Hunkering Down: Botched Jam Apple Pie

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We live very close to the Grand Union Canal which runs through London. Towards the end of summer there were blackberry bushes next to the canal that were heaving with berries. I couldn’t not pick them and I couldn’t not make jam! And so I made jam. Blackberry and merlot jam to be specific. And it turns out jam is not really my forte. The jam tasted fine, but I had completely overcooked it. My jam was SOLID. I mean you pretty much had to chew the stuff to get it down. So what do you do with bottles of overcooked blackberry and merlot jam? Well I wrote to my favourite food podcast, The Splendid Table, and asked them what to do. And The Splendid Table wrote back! They actually wrote back, and then asked me to phone into the show to ask my question – which I did and I got the most fabulous suggestion from the host for what to do with my botched jam. (you can find the Splendid Table here if you’re interested. I would highly recommend it – and not just because they answered my question…) So here is one of the things to do with botched jam – make Botched Jam Apple Pie*. The addition of jam to the crust creates a chewy and rich base to your apple pie. Completely delicious.

*I haven’t included instructions here for how to botch jam. In the place of my botched jam I would suggest using a non botched version. If however you really feel the need to botch jam leave me a comment.

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I have adapted the recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman. It is amazing. As is her blog which you can find here.

All butter, flaky pie dough

– 315 g plain flour

– 1 tablespoon sugar

– 1 teaspoon sea salt

– 225g unsalted butter – it needs to be very cold

– 120ml ice cold water

1. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into a medium-sized dice and scatter the pieces over the flour. Work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. You can also use a food processor to do this.

2. If you find that the butter has warmed up a bit, place the bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes to quickly cool it down. Drizzle the water over the mixture and use a flexible spatula to combine it altogether until a craggy, uneven mass forms. Knead the dough and any loose bits together. You will need to work quite quickly to stop the dough warming up.

3. Wrap the dough in a large piece of clingfilm and put it in the fridge for at least two hours.

4. Grease a 23 x 7.5cm round springform tin and set aside.

5. Roll the dough onto a floured surface to about 40cm round. Fold the dough gently in half, and then in half again. lift it into the prepared tin. Unfold the dough, draping it into the centre from the sides, lowering enough dough to fill the springform’s cavity. Press it against the sides, trim the overhang to 2.5cm and use the scraps to patch any tears or holes. Spread a layer of jam over the base (I’d recommend a flavour that goes with apple – like blackberry..) Let the crust chill in fridge while you prepare the apples.

Pie filling and topping

For the topping:

– 3 tablespoons sugar

– 3 tablespoons brown sugar

– quarter of a teaspoon ground cinnamon

– quarter of a teaspoon table salt

– 95g plain flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 60g butter melted

Sift together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir until large clumps form. Set topping aside.

For the filling:

– 2kg apples

– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

– 200g granulated sugar

– 30g plain flour

– half a teaspoon table salt

– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– quarter of a teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1.Heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius/ 170 degrees Celsius fan forced.

2. Peel, core and chop each apple into eight wedges. Thinly slice each wedge crosswise into pieces no more than 0.5cm thick. Sprinkle the apples with lemon juice (you may need to use two large bowls to put your cut apples into).

3. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and then sprinkle it over the apples, tossing gently to coat. Add the apple filling to the prepared crust, a quarter at a time. Spread the apples flat and evenly so that you can fit in as many as possible.

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4. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the pie from the oven just long enough to sprinkle the topping over the top of the pie. Reduce the temperature to 160 degrees/ 140 fan and bake for another hour. If the topping begins to brown too soon, cover it with foil, removing it only for the last two minutes of baking.

5. Cool the pie to lukewarm in the springform. You can serve the pie immediately or leave it in the fridge overnight. Leaving the pie in the fridge allows the juices to gel so you can cut a clean slice. I couldn’t wait that long though! I have served mine with homemade vanilla ice cream. Delicious.