When baking becomes an art form. You’ll need to use all your powers to resist this heavenly creation from one of Australia’s most inspiring cooks.
Claudia Anton aka The Sugarologist shares the secrets to making her swoon-worthy apple and blackberry pie. Not only does it combine the texture of apples with the natural sweetness of berries to create a taste sensation, it also looks beautiful with it’s clever woven top and picturesque pastry decorations.
- Digital scale
- Food processor
- Chef’s knife
- Rolling pin
- Pastry mat
- Large saucepan
- 24cm deep pie dish
- Baking tray
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
Make one and a half quantities for a decorated pie.
- 500g plain flour
- 150g caster sugar
- A pinch of sea salt
- 250g unsalted butter (chilled)
- 2 tsp vanilla essence (concentrate)
- 2 egg yolks
- 65ml iced water
- 1kg dried beans for blind baking the base
For the pie filling
- 1.5kg apples, preferably granny smith
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 15g cornflour
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 250g fresh blackberries (or frozen), around two punnets
- 75g-100g raw sugar (according to taste and sweetness of the fruits)
- ¼ cup blueberries
- Lemon zest (optional)
For the egg wash
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1-2 tbsp of milk (for sticking and basting)
- 1 egg white (to seal the base)
- Extra butter for greasing
Start by preparing the pastry to allow time for chilling.
- In a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt and blitz until combined.
- Cube the cold butter and add to the processor.
- Blitz in pulses until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Combine the yolks, water and vanilla.
- Add to the butter and flour mixture then blitz again in short pulses until the dough just comes together.
- Take the dough out and scrunch together quickly in a ball. A gentle knead may be used to incorporate any dry bits.
- Divide into three balls.
- Flatten each ball into a circle about 1cm thick, and wrap in clingfilm or silicone wrap. Chill for 2 hours to allow the dough to rest and firm up.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
- Peel, quarter, core and slice the apples (not too fine but not too thick).
- Add them to a bowl with the lemon juice and combine.
- Transfer the apples to a large saucepan with the sugar, vanilla and a splash of water.
- Cook over heat until they are just starting to break up and release some juices. Make sure you stir them from time to time to prevent them from burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Mix the cornflour with a little cold water to make a slurry.
- Remove the apples from the heat and add 3/4 of the cornflour mix. Return to boil to thicken the juices and add more cornflour if still runny keeping in mind that more juices will be released as the mixture cools.
- Fold in the blackberries and blueberries.
- Transfer the filling to a bowl and chill, covered in the fridge.
To prepare the base:
- Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Mark the perimeter of the top of the tin out on a piece of baking paper with a pencil and set aside. (This will be used as a template for the top of the pie.)
- Grease a 24cm deep pie tin or dish liberally with butter.
- Take out one lot of chilled dough and roll between two pieces of baking paper until you have created a 3mm round disk. The disk needs to be big enough to line the pie tin with at least a 2cm of overhang. (You can estimate this by measuring the inside diameter of the tin and sides and adding 4cm to your measurement.)
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, chill it briefly to firm it up.
- Take off the top layer of paper, and use the bottom layer to ease the dough into the tin, peeling it off as you do so.
- Press the dough gently into the sides and over the top.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Line the base with two pieces of scrunched up baking paper placed in opposite directions so that all the pastry is covered.
- Fill with 1kg of dried beans and bake for 20 minutes until the sides are cooked and slightly golden. The overlapping edges will be darker but will be trimmed later on.
- Take out the base and carefully remove the beans and paper.
- Brush the bottom with egg white to seal and return to the oven for around 6 minutes or until the base is dry and just starting to colour.
- Remove and set aside to cool.
- Trim off the overlapping edges using a serrated knife or Microplane grater.
To prepare the top:
- Roll out another piece of dough to a thickness of 2mm between two pieces of baking paper.
- Use the template to cut out a circle which will create a pie lid, reserving any trimmings for decorations later.
- Chill for 30 minutes until firm on a piece of baking paper.
- Use the trimmings and extra ball of dough to create the decorations.
- Roll out the last ball of dough between two pieces of baking paper to 2-3mm thickness.
- Cut 1cm strips to create the pastry lattice pattern.
- Cut thinner strips to create a plait or two. (If the dough has become too soft and sticky chill it for a moment to help firm it up, by placing it on a tray in the fridge.)
- Take out the chilled lid and pastry strips and weave the lattice onto the top of the pastry lid. Trim any overhanging pieces. You can use the same or a combination of diameters, or add in a few plaits to your design.
- Punch out a few holes between the woven pastry to allow any steam to escape during baking.
- Roll out more pastry and use a combination of leaf cutters and flower cutters in different sizes to cut enough shapes for the edge of the disc and to create a trellis design.
- If you don’t have any cutters, these can be cut out by hand with a knife or a circle cutter.
- Mark veins on the leaves using a knife of the modelling tool. Use a balling tool or chopstick to dent the centre of the flowers, and a knife to highlight the petals.
- Create blackberries by cutting out small berry sized circles. Brush with egg wash and use the end of a round piping nozzle to stamp out smaller rounds. Attach these to the larger circles to create a berry-like effect.
- Attach the leaves, flowers and berries to the latticed pie lid with egg wash using strips of dough to create a trellis and stems/branches. (Again if they become too soft, chill them to firm up)
- Chill the finished lid to 30 minutes.
- Fill the cooled base with the filling, mounding it slightly in the centre.
- Brush the edges with egg wash.
- Attach the chilled lid, ensuring you remove any paper underneath first and press the edges down to secure.
- Baste the top of the pie with egg wash.
- Bake at 170C for 1 to 1.5 hours. If the top browns too much during baking, cover with foil and turn the oven down to 160C.
- Cool and serve with liberal amounts of cream, creme fraiche, ice cream or custard.
- If you don’t own a food processor, the pastry can be prepared either in a stand mixer or completely by hand.
- To use a stand mixer: Use the beater attachment to combine the dry ingredients and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, then transfer to a bowl and gently combine with the egg yolk and water until it just comes together.
- To prepare it by hand: Rub the butter together with the flour, salt and sugar until breadcrumbs form then add the chilled liquid as above.
- Any leftover pastry can be double wrapped in cling film and frozen.
- Be experimental with your fruit! Add more or fewer berries, change to apple and rhubarb or raspberry. You may need to adjust the sugar and cornflour quantities in this case.
- If there are no fresh berries available, frozen works very well. Just thaw first, then add to the apple with the juices and a little extra cornflour slurry.
- Don’t be afraid to play with flavours. Adding spices and zest to the pastry or the filling can ramp up the flavours and create a totally different pie. Claudia likes the idea of chai spices, cinnamon and citrus zest.
- The base and lid can be prepared in advance and stored until you are ready to bake.
- The decorated lid can be frozen, and the baked case will store for a few days in an airtight container.
- If you prefer a simpler pie, leave off the lattice and simplify the patterns by either stamping out shapes or circles or adding a simpler border (simple shapes like circles, squares or stars or pressed patterns using a fork or spoon). Experiment using what you have in the kitchen.
- Without the layer of lattice, a thicker lid should be made (3-4mm) for stability.