Preheat the oven to 180C and use a butter wrapper with a knob of butter on it to grease the inside of a (24cm) pie dish.
Start with the pastry. The key is to be assertive. Pastry can sense fear. Move quickly and confidently, keeping your hands and surfaces as cool as possible. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it together using your fingertips, pulse in a foodprocessor OR use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer – until it resembles even-sized breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolk and then the smallest drizzle of the coolest possible water. The key to the ‘short’ pastry which people swoon over of is to work it as little as possible at this point and bring the pastry together using the smallest amount of water. Exercise restraint … and confidence. Often 3tbsp is all that is needed to encourage the pastry to clump together into a single, roll-able ball.
Divide the ball into 1/3 and 2/3 and, on a floured surface, roll out the 2/3 piece to line the base of the pie dish. Trim the edges and put it in the fridge to cool, along with the remaining 1/3 (which will later form the top) of the pie.
While the pastry chills, make the pie filling. First, squeeze the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl (this will prevent the apples from discolouring), then slice the apples into bitesized chunks and add them to the bowl, tossing from time to time as you go, to make sure that all the apple chunks get exposed to a splash of lemon juice. Once you’ve finished, tip the bowl to get rid of any lemon juice settled at the bottom of the bowl. Stir together 1tbsp granulated sugar and 1tsp True Cinnamon and stir it through the apple filling.
Now, take the chilled pie case out of the fridge and roll out the remaining 1/3 pastry ball into a circle large enough to form the pie lid. Sprinkle 1tbsp semolina in the base of the pastry case and then tip in the filling. Use a wet finger to lightly dab a little water round the edge of the bottom pastry case – this will help the pie lid stick, as will using your fingers to crimp together the edges. Cut a hole in the top to let out steam and then use a pastry brush to paint the lightly-whisked egg over the pie lid.
Bake for 25minutes. As soon as the pie comes out of the oven, mix the remaining 1tbsp granulated sugar and 1tsp of True Cinnamon and sprinkle it on top. Serve, hot, with ice cream, whipped cream, custard – or, (as is my family’s preference), all three.
Photography by Ian Dingle