Not the original
One of these days I am going to actually cook what I set out to cook. I am going to say “You know what, I have never made a traditional double-crust apple pie before, it is time to start now” and then I will make a lovely apple pie, with no fancy twists or odd ingredients or added extras. Just apples and pastry. On that day I will not be sidetracked by beautiful citrus fruits and get funny ideas about putting bergamot with apple. That day was not yesterday. Yesterday I went to the market to get some lovely fat organic lemons. I’m not generally a big fan of organic produce but on this occasion it was called for. As I picked up a couple of lemons a basket of slightly darker, orangey lemons caught my eye. Bergamots. I had heard a little about these elusive creatures, it being citrus season at the moment, but had never before tasted one or seen on in the flesh (although I had experienced their flavour before, bergamot being used to flavour Earl Grey tea). These citrus, perhaps a cross between an orange and a lime, no-one really seems to know, seemed so exotic to me, and they’re almost impossible to get hold of in our cold and rainy land, that I immediately picked up two and carried them off home.
It was only once I got them home that I started pondering what to do with them. It seemed that you couldn’t necessarily just swap bergamot in a recipe that calls for lemon, because the zest is so aromatic it could well completely overwhelm the recipe. After debating and then rejecting using them to make lemon bars, I decided to pair them with apples in a pie. I figured that to stop apples browning once they’ve been chopped you have to toss them in lemon juice, so I may as well just exaggerate this effect, using bergamot juice, and then mixing in some zest into the pie as well. The apples were eating apples so instead of being sour they tasted quite zesty and crisp and actually paired very well with the bergamot. I was worried the floral scent of the lemon would over power the apple pie, but it was only just detectable, just a magical undercurrent of an oft-forgotten fruit, that paired well with the lemony freshness of the apples. I’m not sure how well this combination would work with bramley apples, but I have a feeling they would be too sour to carry it off; sugar would end up overpowering everything. Still, with my inability to make a straight-up traditional anything, I’m sure it can’t be too long before I try that combination out.
Apple pie with bergamot
Adapted from Good Food Magazine, October 2004
115g butter, room temperature
25g caster sugar
175g gluten-free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon cold water
3 large eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped, roughly 400-500g
Juice and zest of half a bergamot (or lemon)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1. First make the pastry by creaming together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and then work in the flour and xanthan gum. The dough should come together in a cohesive ball. If it feels a little dry, add a tablespoon of water, a bit at a time, until it feels smooth, but not sticky. Flatten the pastry into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 45 minutes.
2. While the pastry is chilling prep the apples. Peel, core and dice the apples, then toss in a large bowl with the juice and zest. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Split the pastry into thirds; set one-third aside and roll the remaining two-thirds out to a 10-inch round (to fit a 7-inch pastry dish). Carefully lift this into the pastry dish (there will be some overhang, which is fine). Mix the sugar and cornflour with the apples and then pile these into the pie dish. Roll the remaining third of the pastry out to 8 inches to fit over the top of the pie.
4. Brush the edges of the bottom layer of pastry with milk, then carefully place the pastry lid on top of the pie. Pinch the edges together and brush all over with milk. Cut slits in the top of the pastry for steam (or a small hole in the centre of the pie) and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Be careful of escaping steam when serving the pie.
Makes one 7-inch pie that serves 6. Serve hot or cold, with Jersey cream or custard, or I suppose ice cream, though I’ve never really been one for pie and ice cream.