Spring has sprung, and in typical Cape Town fashion the weather has gotten itself all confused. It is getting lighter in the mornings (always a good sign), but you usually still need a jacket for the early mornings, short sleeves for when the sun is blazing at midday, and an umbrella on stand-by for any afternoon downpours. Basically you need to make like a scout and be prepared - for anything!
News from the home front is that we have begun another round of renovations on our house. This is both an exciting and stressful time. The kids are loving it of course. The constant activity has been an endless source of entertainment - seeing the foundations being marked out and dug, watching huge pallets of bricks being lifted from a truck onto our front lawn and, the highlight, an actual real life cement truck in our driveway. As for my husband and I, all the commotion and the inevitable hiccups are resulting in an increase in wine consumption and a greater need for comfort food! In fact, our architect joked about seeing more comfort food on the blog over the next few weeks, and she was spot on!
What could be more nostalgic and homely than classic apple pie? It does require a bit of effort but, when time allows, I find making an apple pie from scratch very therapeutic and satisfying. And one thing is for sure, if you produce one of these for guests you will be catapulted straight to domestic goddess status. By the way, this caramel custard is my new favourite creation and such a treat on a slice of warm apple pie.
So while the weather flip flops and life goes on chaotically around us, why not set aside some time for some culinary therapy and enjoy this fabulous dessert.
P.s. Speaking of spring, the September/October issue of Cheers magazine is in Spar Tops stores now. Pick up your copy for two of my favourite lemony fresh spring recipes!
SPICED APPLE PIE with CREAMY CARAMEL CUSTARD
Makes 1 large pie
For the pastry:
1/4 tsp salt
190g butter, cubed
120ml cold water
For the filling:
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp flour
extra flour for dusting
milk for brushing
For the caramel custard:
150g castor sugar
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup cream
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp castor sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step 1.) To make the pastry follow this method. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Step 2.) For the filling: peel the apples and cut them into chunks. Place in a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice.
Step 3.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Mix in the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Add the apple pieces and toss to coat them in the melted butter mixture. Allow the apples to stew, stirring gently and regularly, for 20 minutes or until they're just soft.
Step 4.) Once the apples are stewed add the flour. Stir well and allow the apples to cook for a further 2 minutes before removing from the heat.
Step 5.) Preheat your oven to 200°C and grease a 20cm pie dish.
Step 6.) Dust your work surface and rolling pin with a little flour. Roll the pastry to a 3-4mm thickness. Carefully lift the pastry into your greased pie dish (if you wrap the pastry loosely around the rolling pin it will be easier to lift). Gently press the dough into the dish, then cut the excess away from the rim of the dish.
Step 7.) Press the pastry scraps together and roll out again into a rough rectangular shape. Cut out long strips that are 2cm wide. Set these aside.
Step 8.) Tip the apple filling into the pastry lined dish. Wet the outside rim of the pastry with a little water. Arrange the pastry strips over the top of the pie in a criss-cross or lattice pattern. Press down lightly at the edges and trim any excess pastry.
Step 9.) Brush the pastry lightly with some milk. Bake the pie for 40 - 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.
Step 10.) While the pie is baking prepare the custard. Pop 150g castor sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is a dark golden colour. Watch the saucepan closely so that it does not burn!
Step 11.) Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the cream. Take care as the mixture will bubble up and be extremely hot! Add the butter and salt and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Step 12.) In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and castor sugar together until creamy. Whisk in the flour. Place the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat and heat just until boiling point. Remove from the heat and carefully add half of the milk to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Then add the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and heat slowly while whisking. Continue to stir for a few minutes until the custard is quite thick.
Step 13.) Add the vanilla extract and 3/4 cup of the caramel set aside earlier to the custard. Continue to stir for a few minutes on the heat to thicken slightly. Transfer to a warm jug.
Step 14.) Allow the pie to stand for a few minutes before slicing and serving with caramel custard.