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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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My Oh My Miss American Pie

In many ways, apple pie is a bit of a cliché. Think Bruce Springsteen riding Laura Ingalls Wilder’s horse while eating a McDonald’s apple pie bought for him by his mum, and you’ll just about have it. Despite all this, an apple pie is one of the most simple yet delicious desserts around. Crisp, buttery pastry, warm fluffy apples (I’m trying so hard not to make an American Pie joke here, I hope you’re proud of me), and a spoonful of ice-cream or cream to contrast. Nice.

For something this great, apple pies are remarkably easy to make. If you use pre-made pastry, it’s really really easy. Put pastry and filling in pie dish. Put pie in oven. Serve to adoring guests/flatmates/pets who will offer you praise, foot massages and spare laundry powder. Never has winning love been this simple.

There are just a few points to note. The choice of apples is important. Some apples are much better for cooking than others and are known—with the same kind of creativity that gave us the North and South Island—as cooking apples. These go extra-fluffy when cooked, making for especially good pie filling. The apple I would recommend is the Granny Smith (the bright green type).

I’ve also given instructions here for how to make your own pastry. You can, of course, wimp out and use any pre-made pastry. However, your own will taste much better, and is probably even faster than finding the pastry section of the supermarket freezer. The main trick to pastry is to keep it cold (not too hard in Wellington) and so to handle it as little as possible. Don’t skip the chilling stage, use cold water, and don’t squeeze it or snuggle with it.

This is the pie recipe that was made by my mother all through my childhood, and by my grandmother. I hope you enjoy it.


Apple Pie serves 6-8


5 medium cooking apples (e.g. Granny Smith)

½ cup white sugar


1 ¼ cups white flour

100 g butter

about ½ cup water, very cold


Preheat the oven to 180 °C. If making pastry, cut butter into chunks and blend in a food processor with flour, until the consistency of fine sand. Add water in a dribble while mixing, until the mixture sticks together into a ball. Place in fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes. To prepare the filling, peel apples and slice very finely, then toss with the sugar.

Take a pie tin (20-cm diameter) and grease with butter. Roll half the pastry into a large circle (with the surface and rolling pin well-dusted with flour). Line the pie tin with the pastry sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roll the remaining pastry to make the top. Pastry scraps can be used for decorations, e.g. pastry leaves or flowers. Remove pie base from oven, pour in filling and cover with lid, pressing down edges. Put a few slits in the top of the pie. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown (juice can bubble out, so place a tray underneath). Serve alone, or with vanilla ice-cream, cream, or brown sugar.

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