The perfect apple pie is not too sweet, not too tart, and delicately spiced.
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For the Filling
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 1 lemon
6 large dessert apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced, peel reserved
8 cm cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1 cup medium-sweet cider
60 g butter, melted
3/4 cup sultanas or raisins
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar
For the Pastry
2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
60 g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
60 g chilled lard or white vegetable fat, cut into small cubes
2–2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
Directions Prep:1hr › Cook:2hr › Ready in:3hr
Half-fill a bowl with cold water, add the lemon juice and sliced apple and set aside.
To make the pastry, sift the ﬂour and salt into a bowl, rub in the butter and the lard or vegetable fat, then mix with the water to form a ﬁrm dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Simmer the apple peel in a covered saucepan with the cloves, cinnamon and cider for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 5 tablespoons.
Strain the peel through a sieve, pressing down well with a spoon to extract all the juices. Discard the peel and spices. Stir the melted butter into the apple juice along with the lemon rind and sultanas or raisins.
Drain the apples, mix into the butter mixture and spoon into a 4-cup round or oval pie dish. Roll out the dough to 5 cm larger than the pie dish, then cut a 2–3 cm strip from around the edge. Brush the edge of the dish with cold water, press the strip onto it and brush with water again. Drape the remaining dough over the rolling pin and ease it into place over the pie. Press the edges together to seal, then trim and decorate the edge.
Make a small hole in the centre of the pie, then brush with the milk and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 30–40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the apples are tender.
Test for tenderness by inserting a skewer into the pie through the hole in the centre. If the pie starts to brown too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.