No one does fruit pies and tarts as well as the United States especially in the country towns. I scoured the country trying to find the secret of the luscious gooey apple pies and as you can see from this recipe it’s all in the syrup made from apple ‘juice’ and butter. What more fitting way to celebrate 4th of July than with this Apple Pie. Serve with ice cream – ‘a la mode’ – as the Americans would say.
1.2 kg (2.5lb) granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm thick slices
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark treacle sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maizena/cornflour
Flaky pastry to fill a 9 inch (23cm) pie dish – ensure it is deep enough as this is a typical American high pie.
- Line deep pie dish with flaky pastry.
- Mix apples and all the ingredients excluding the butter, maizena and pastry in a large bowl.
- Macerate for at least 30minutes. Drain in a colander collecting all the “juice”. You need about 1/2 cup of “juice”.
- Boil this “juice” together with the butter in a small saucepan until thick and the liquid has halved.
- In the mean time add the maizena to the apples and and mix till dry.
- Now add syrup to apples and stir through. Place in pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes to maintain flakiness of the pastry.
- Remove plastic wrap. Bake in preheated oven at 425F/210C for around 40 minutes in bottom shelf of oven.
- Cool for 4 hours before serving.
This is a lovely tart with crunchy oats base, a tart creamy subtle middle layer, and a fruit topping. It is simple and quick to make but tastes elaborate. You can use in season fruit for the topping – in summer try strawberries, raspberries, or stone fruit. In winter banana is delicious or you can even use a quality apricot or black cherry jam.
1/2 cup sticky brown sugar is plenty
2 cups quick porridge oats
180g(6 oz) butter
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1.5 cups plain yoghurt, Greek style
1 Tablespoons caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
Fruit of your choice: 3-4 Bananas/1 punnet strawberries/etc
1/2 cup jam to glaze – use apricot for bananas or redcurrant for strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Gently melt brown sugar and butter in a saucepan – do NOT let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the oats. Spread evenly into a greased 24cm(9-10inch) diameter flan dish.
- Bake in the top half of the oven 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
- In a bowl stir yoghurt, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest for the middle layer together. Pour on top of the oat base. Put dish back in the oven for 8 minutes. Cool. The yoghurt topping will be smooth and slightly firm.
- A couple of hours before serving slice the bananas (or halve the strawberries if using) and layer on top of the yoghurt base. Melt the jam for glazing in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Brush onto the fruit with a pastry brush.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the crispy base and serve as is or with cream or ice cream.
Ok, it takes a while to peel and slice the apples. To get the best results you do need to do this by hand as a food processor does not get the thickness quite right… but the tart is to die for. The tang and freshness of the apples topped with just the thinnest of ground almond toppings works so well. I have no idea if the tart keeps well as it is always eaten so fast – definitely a way to win friends. My painter, Ted, painted my outdoor walls in return for a slice!!! Omit ice cream or cream. Serve at room temperature – not warm. This tart needs no embellishment – perfect just as it is.
750 g cooking apples (about 6 medium-sized Granny Smith variety)
¼ cup honey
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon brandy
- Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice each quarter lengthways into 4.
- Make a syrup by boiling the honey, butter, cinnamon, lemon peel, and juice and brandy together in a large frying pan.
- Add the apple wedges and simmer for 10 minutes. Marinade overnight.
- Spoon into a 25 cm (10 inch) pie dish.
125g(5 ounces) butter
125g(5 ounces) castor sugar
2 eggs, beaten
125g(5 ounces) ground almonds
- Cream the butter and sugar in a Kenwood mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and beat well.
- Fold in the almonds.
- Spoon over the apples in the pie dish. The topping will be very thin.
- Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature – NOT WARM.
This recipe uses a shortcrust pastry which goes all biscuity and is quite divine despite the simplicity of the pastry. These are very traditional – hearty and delicious. The pastry is prepared using a Kenwood mixer rather than a food processor and the extra few minutes required are well worth the result. The pastry allows for a substantial quantity – only make as many tarts as you need and eat warm if you can. Save the remaining pastry in the fridge for another occasion during the festive season.
Makes 48 tarts (7cm diameter) with lids.
500g caster sugar
2 cups Self Raising flour
1½ cups plain flour
2 jars Robertson’s fruit mince
- Cream butter and sugar in Kenwood Mixer until almost white.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating all the while
- Add flour and knead well
- Break into two portions, wrap in cling wrap and store in fridge.
- Grease a 12 cup muffin baking pan with capacity for twelve 7cm diameter tarts.
- Roll pastry out to about ¼cm thick – you definitely don’t want these too thin.
- Using a 10cm cutter, cut rounds and line holes of prepared pan.
- Fill with Robertson’s fruit mince.
- Using a 7cm cutter, cut tops and place on top of fruit mince.
- Pinch pastry closed and brush with egg.
- Bake at 170°C for 15- 20minutes until lightly browned.
- Immediately turn out onto a wire rack so that pastry crisps up and does not get soggy.
- Cool 20minutes and serve sprinkled with icing sugar. They are wonderful eaten cold but even better slightly warm. For ultimate flavour, eat them on the same day you bake them or reheat if made the day before.
This is the South African version of custard tart which uses more milk, fewer eggs and the “custard” is made before pouring into the pastry shell resulting in a lighter texture. In my opinion, it tastes much better – Try it and see. Melktert originates via the Dutch Settlars in the Cape in the 1600’s and is thought to have come from Dutch Medieval Cooking. Today it remains omnipresent at every cake sale, picnic, or party. There are many versions – this recipe was given to me by my best friend, Keryn.
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
- Mix dry ingredients in food processor
- Add butter and pulse until it mixture is crumbly
- Add beaten egg and process till pastry just forms
Filling:2½ cups milk
1 Tablespoon maizena or cornflour
1½ Tablespoons flour
1½ Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- Mix maizena, flour and sugar to a paste in ½ cup milk in a pot.
- Separately, bring remaining 2 cups milk with cinnamon stick to the boil.
- Add boiling milk to paste, stirring all the time.
- Place on the stove and heat till just boiling, stirring continuously.
- Cool. While cooling roll out pastry and line a 23cm diameter pie dish.
- Add beaten egg and butter to cooled milk mixture. Remove cinnamon stick.
- Pour filling into pastry shell.
- Sprinkle thickly with ground cinnamon.
- Bake at 190°C for 20 minutes.