Many Reasons to Celebrate

Well I’m sure most of you are aware that today is St Patrick’s Day. And being Irish it would be very remiss and indeed unpatriotic of me not to mention or celebrate this day.

So that’s Reason # 1.

Reason # 2: Ireland v England in the 2012 Six Nations today, come on Ireland!!!

Reason # 3: Tomorrow is Mother’s Day :O), can’t wait!

Reason # 4: Tomorrow is also the 1st Anniversary of my blog and me entering the world of blogging :O)

All week I’ve been trying to think of something to blog about that would encapsulate all of these reasons for celebration. Something green? That certainly would tick the boxes for Paddy’s day and the rugby, but no, too trite.

Something, pink, flowery, chocolaty for Mother’s Day and 1st Anniversary? Too clichéd.

I must mention that the reason for starting my blog was to share and preserve my Mum’s recipes and her love for cooking/baking. A love that she has passed onto all of her children.

So when I thought of it from that angle, I came up with the humble apple pie. Mum always had apple pies squirreled away; ready to pull out when we got that unexpected guest. Pastry and stewed apple would be assembled, decorated with pastry roses and leaves and then frozen. These were usually stored uncooked and presented hot from the oven when the afore mentioned visitor descended on us. Genius!

And how does this link with the reasons for celebration you may ask? Well apple pie is very emblematical of Ireland (reasons #1 & #2 covered). It’s made by most Irish Mammies, (reason #3 covered). And as I said, it’s something that my own Irish Mammy used to make and has passed on her love of food and expertise in pastry making to me (reason #4 covered).

So today I present the humble apple pie, with a twist!

The twist being, as well as brambly apples I have added blackberries to the filling, which enhance both the flavour and colour.

Ingredients:

Pastry: (this is my Mum’s recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry. She always used the whole egg rather than just the yolk as she felt it was an awful waste of an egg white if you didn’t have time to make something else with it. Also it means that you rarely need to add water to the recipe)

  • 225g/8 oz plain white flour
  • 150g/5 0z butter
  • 25g/1 oz sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling:

  • About 700g/1.5lbs  cooking apples (brambly if you can get them) I used a mix of apples and blackberries with a ratio of 500g/18 oz apples and 200g/7 oz blackberries
  • 50g/2 oz castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Method:

Rub the flour and butter together till you get a breadcrumb consistency, then stir in the sugar.  Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg, using your hand form a ball of dough. Knead slightly and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

I feel I need to say that I usually make my pastry in the food processor. The art of good pastry is cold hands! I find it impossible to have cold hands in a warm kitchen, so for me, combining the ingredients in this way means the pastry is handled less and therefore the result is a more manageable pastry. Follow the method above but instead of you doing the work your food processor does it for you. However, be careful not to over work the ingredients as the pastry will become tough.

While the pastry is in the fridge, prepare the filling. Peel and core the apples and slice  into medium slices, not too thick. Wash the blackberries and leave to one side. Using a deep pan, melt the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together over a moderate heat, then add the cornflour stirring all the time to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn. 
Toss the fruit, apple and blackberries into the pan with the butter and sugar mixture and allow to cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are beginning to soften and become coated with blackberry gooey glossiness. Set to one side and allow to cool. 

Now time to preheat the oven to 19oc/365f/gas 5. Roll out half of the pastry directly from the fridge, until quite thin approximately 3 mm and line a 23 cm/9 inch pie dish (a deep plate will do too once it’s oven proof). Gently work the pastry down into the dish, I usually use a little piece of pastry to do this as it prevents you from poking a hole in the pastry base which would cause the filling to leak out. Trim around the edges and Return to the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow the pastry to cool again, this will prevent shrinkage while cooking.

Once chilled remove from the fridge and carefully fill the pastry base with the cooked fruit. Now roll out the second half of the pastry and gently place on top of the pie, pressing gently around the edges. Trim, with a knife and seal the edges by rubbing with a little water. Using a fork, prick the top of the pie which will release the air as it cooks. If you are feeling creative, using  the left over pasty, cut out some leaf shapes and place on top of the pie as decoration. Again sealing with a little bit of water. I went festive and made shamrocks (well my husband Emmet did!) At this point the tart could be returned to the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to allow to chill before cooking, again this will prevent the pastry from shrinking.

Place in a preheated oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Finally, La feile Phadraig shona daoibh (Happy St Patrick’s day)

Good Luck to the Irish Rugby team!

Happy Mother’s day to all mother’s out there.

And Happy 1st Anniversary to rhodakirwan.com!!

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6 Responses to Many Reasons to Celebrate

  1. Happy Anniversary and Happy St. Patrick’s Day Rhoda! That’s such a pretty pie with a perfect shamrock on it. No less than I’d expect from and Irish lass!

    • Rhoda Kirwan says:

      Thanks Betsy, we had a great day however Ireland did lose the match 😦 Not to worry, today is mother’s day so I’m chilling out and listening to my kitchen being pulled apart while dinner is being prepared by the men in my life! Have a good weekend Rx

  2. I love this!! You have the prettiest pie toppers ever, lovely little shamrocks.. perfect for the occasion! Congratulations on the anniversary of your blog!!

  3. Oh, I almost forgot..La feile Phadraig shona daoibh!!

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