This post was very nearly given the subtitle, “Pastry, who’s got the thyme these days?”. Some people have pastry fear – that’s not my problem. It is a beast that can be tamed. The issue is more that, well, it’s a bit of a faff, isn’t it? When it comes down to it, I’d rather start cooking knowing that within an hour I’ll have a hot little pie in my hand, rather than my hands in a hot bowl of washing up. I’d rather spend these approaching early-dark weekends going for walks and breathing in petrichor than fighting with butter and flour. Sometimes it’s worth taking a shortcut. For the sake of apple pie.
I’d love to say that I have some sort of emotional connection with apple pie, a story of sitting down to eat it with a grandma on a Sunday afternoon. The closest thing I’ve got takes place under the harsh yellow of university cafeteria lighting, the apple pie the only reason I’d frequently stray from food I’d cooked (or, let’s face it, assembled from Ritz crackers and Philadelphia), because I can’t be trusted to make a whole pie and not eat it. Which explains the tiny hand pies, right?
I’m happy to admit that I was a little nervy about this flavour combination, a bit concerned that it’d taste like medicine. I’m also happy to announce that it does not taste of medicine. It does taste of apples and honey, with a hint of earthiness that’s so appropriate in this transition phase. Perfect for wrapping up and popping into your pocket for those walks. We’re halfway through the best month.
1 packet (500g) shortcrust pastry
500g apples, peeled, cored, chopped into small chunks (1cm-ish)
90g honey (1/4 cup)
4 branches thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
1) On a liberally-floured surface, roll out the pastry to to about 3mm thick. Use a round cutter about 3 inches in diameter to cut out rounds of pastry, and lay out on a baking parchment-lined baking tray, and transfer to the fridge while you cook the apples. Preheat oven to 220C.
2) In a fairly large pan, bring the honey to the boil and simmer for about a minute until slightly caramelised. Turn the heat down a little, and add the thyme branches. After a further minute or so, add the apples. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly, until caramelised but not cooked through. Remove from the hob and discard thyme branches.
3) Remove the pastry rounds from the fridge and heap about 2/3 tablespoon mixture into the centre of each round. Using your little finger, rub excess liquid around the edge of the round, to help it stick to the top. Place another round on top, push down to seal, and then go around the edges again, pressing down with a fork to seal the edges. When all the pies are sealed, return to the fridge for about 10 minutes.
4) When chilled, use a sharp knife to make slits in the top, then brush with the egg and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake at 220C for five minutes, then lower the temperature to 180C for the remaining time, 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Note: I stacked the rounds with parchment between each layer to refrigerate. They were fine.