Thursday, 19 December 2013

Sluttishly Sweet: Spiced Apple Crumble & Custard Pie


As a festive change from all the traditional pudding, mince pies and cake, what could be nicer than a Christmassy spiced apple crumble pie? Christmassy spiced apple crumble pie with custard that's what. But, living with a custard hater (le gasp!), I don't get to indulge in the custard as often as I'd like.

What to do? In the finest tradition of home cooking, I hid it. Yes, the custard is still there but inside the pie. Sneaky non? Making your own custard really is simple but you can always buy the ready-made stuff, add some cinnamon and heat it up before adding to the pie.

Spiced Apple Crumble & Custard Pie
You'll need:

For the pie:
  • 1 pack of ready-made shortcrust pastry (or check out our gluten-free version here)
  • 4-5 medium sized sweet apples peeled and cut into large even chunks (I used Royal Gala)
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 tsps allspice (or any mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful dried fruits chopped (which you can certainly soak in booze the night before - do it, you won't regret it)
For the custard:
  • 300ml full fat milk (or a mix of 100ml double cream and 200ml semi-skimmed)
  • half a vanilla pod 
  • 2-3 egg yolks depending on their size.
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
For the crumble topping:
  • 150g rolled oats that have been lightly toasted
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 100g plain white flour
  • 25g butter cubed
Make it!
  1. Pre heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Line bottom of a 20cm cake tin with some baking paper and roll the shortcrust pastry out till it's about 3-4mm thin.
  3. Gently place the pastry in the tin, pushing it down into the corners and against the sides, trim it leaving a generous over hang at the top, pastry tends to shrink when baked so this'll make sure the walls of the pie stay nice and high.
  4. Scrunch up a large piece of baking paper and place in the tin on top of the pastry, weigh it down with some dried beans, ceramic balls, dry rice, basically anything with some weight and pop in the oven to blind bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans/balls/rice and pop it back in for another 5 minutes. Once it's out whack the oven up to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
  5. Throw the apples, brown sugar, allspice, salt and dried fruits in a pan over a medium high heat and stir occasionally, once the apples start to break down and the sugar becomes gloopy and sticky take it off the heat and put to one side.
  6. For the custard, put the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar in a clean bowl and whisk together till you get a thick paste. 
  7. Pour the milk into a pan and add the seeds from the vanilla pod, the cinnamon and bring it to the boil. Once it's bubbling take it off the heat and add it a little at bit at a time to the egg mix while whisking vigorously. 
  8. When it's all added pour it back into the pan and put it over a low to medium heat, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't stick. Keep it up till it becomes super thick, not stand a spoon up in it thick but like ... well like luxury custard thick. Strain it through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and pop to one side.
  9. Throw all the crumble ingredients in a bowl and rub them together roughly with your finger tips until you have lovely lumpy crumble.
  10. Now build the pie! Spread the apple mix evenly onto the pastry case first, follow this with the custard and then generously sprinkle the crumble mix on top. Pop it back in the oven for approx 20-25 minutes or until the crumble turns golden brown.
  11. Now serve warm with a giant scoop of ice cream and forget about all the pesky wrapping you still have to do.

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