We spent the weekend in the summer house with my dad. It was nice getting out of the city and being in a bubble for a few days. Even though it was cold outside, we had a fire in the woodburning stove to keep us warm. The dogs especially love lying in front of it soaking up the warmth in their small, furry bodies. We could hardly get them to go for walks to the beach or in the fields.
Before we left I made my favourite winter comfort food: apple pie. I normally make either classic latticed or dutch versions, but I read about a "French" apple pie which has a less sweet breadcrumb like topping. I made a classic pâte brisée, filled it with apples macerated in sugar, orange and lemon zest, basil and ground star anise. I know it is a lot of ingredients, but they melted together beautifully. The sweet star anise always go well with citrus and basil has both bright citrusy and sweet anise notes.
I served the pie with an olive oil gelato, but it would be just as lovely with a good vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. I made individual pies, but you can just as easy make one large for sharing.
French apple pie with citrus, basil and star anise
4 small or 1 large 22cm/9"
160g all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
100g cold butter, diced
2-3 Tbsp. ice cold water
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt and cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter until the texture resembles breadcrumbs. Add just enough water so the dough comes together. Turn out onto a piece of parchment, flatten into a circle and wrap in parchment. Chill for at least one hour.
Either keep the dough in one circle or divide in four. Roll out and line pie tin or pie tins with the dough.
100g granulated sugar
120g cold butter, diced
Whisk together flour and sugar. Rub butter into the mixture until mixed together, but still slightly lumpy like coarse breadcrumbs.
8 large apples, peeled and cored
200g granulated sugar
25g corn starch, flour or tapioca starch
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
2 tsp. finely chopped basil
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground star anise
Pinch of salt
Slice the apples into 1cm wedges, mix with sugar, basil, citrus zests and salt and cover with clingfilm. Leave to macerate for 4 hours. Toss with corn starch (or whatever starch you are using). Pour the apple filling into the prepared pie shells.
Spread the topping evenly on top of the filling and bake in the oven at 215C for 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 175C and bake for another 15-20 minutes for small pies and about 30 minutes for a large.
Remove pies from the oven and either cool to room temperature or serve warm with ice cream.