Sunday 10 February 2008

Recipe: Apple & Blackberry Pies

A contemporary take on a true classic. In practice, I suppose it's a hybrid between the base of a tarte aux pommes and an english apple pie - but the use of phyllo pastry and of Splenda (as an option) rather than sugar combine to make it a very low-carb version of the old recipe, as well as introducing a few more flavours into the mix.

For two.

Ingredients: 3 sheets of phyllo pastry, each 6" x 12"; 3 oz Butter; 1/4 cup Slivered Almonds; 3 Apples (Pink Lady is best, or Braeburn or Gala - something that will keep its shape and not entirely collapse when cooked); 10 good-sized Blackberries; 1 tablespoon Cognac or Rum; 1/3 cup of Sugar (or Splenda); juice and grated rind of 1 Lemon; 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon.


1. Melt 1 oz of the Butter and use it to brush two of the sheets of Phyllo. Make two Phyllo tart shells in the usual way, but in this instance, sprinkle a layer of slivered Almonds between the two layers of Phyllo that you use to make the shell - they will toast as the pastry cooks, and give the finished pie a good crisp base. Leave the oven on when you take out the blind-baked shells, as you'll need it later to cook the completed pies.

2. Peel, core and dice the Apples - the dice should be about 1 cm each. Cook in a covered pan over a low heat until they have cooked through and have started to lose their shape - ten to fifteen minutes in total; check and stir occasionally during this stage, as they have a tendency to catch if not watched!

3. To the cooked Apple, add the remaining Butter, Cognac (or Rum), Lemon juice & rind, Cinnamon, and Sugar (or Splenda). Mix these together thoroughly, and raise the heat under the pan as you continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it has reduced to a thick consistency, which might take another ten minutes at most.

4. Divide the Apple mixture between the two tart shells, and press five Blackberries into the mixture in each shell, arranged roughly evenly within the tart shell.

5. Brush the remaining sheet of Phyllo with the last of the melted Butter, cut in two, and use each half to make a lid for each of the pies. In the centre of each lid, cut a small cross, and fold back the corners to leave a small square opening in the top of each pie.

6. Bake the pies in the oven (which should still be at 200 degrees C) until nicely browned on the surface, which should be about twenty minutes in total.

Serve either warm or cold. Delicious either way, and particularly with a dollop of whipped cream!

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