The ultimate apple pie from Mary Berry is the perfect dessert for a special meal
Mary Berry: "Homely and traditional, apple pie is the perfect dessert for a special meal. It never fails to please and is easily within the scope of the new cook. The trick is to have crisp, golden pastry on the outside and tender, juicy fruit that holds its shape on the inside."
Place the flour in a large bowl. Cut the margarine into cubes and add to the flour. Rub the margarine into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a knife until the mixture just begins to hold together. Using one hand, gather the mixture together into a rough ball against the side of the bowl.
Wrap the ball in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour the work surface. Unwrap the pastry and cut it in half. Rewrap one piece to prevent it from drying out. Gently shape the other half into a smooth ball.
Flour your rolling pin and flatten the pastry. Working the rolling pin from the centre outwards, roll the pastry out into a circle, about 35cm in diameter.
Between each rolling, turn the pastry a quarter turn and dust the rolling pin with more flour if it starts to become sticky. Do not stretch the pastry or turn it over.
With floured hands, fold the circle of pastry dough in half, then in half again, to resemble a fan shape. This will make it easier to lift into the tin.
Brush the pie tin with melted margarine. Place the pastry fan in the tin with the point in the centre. This ensures the pastry is central and will help minimise stretching.
Unfold the pastry and ease it into the tin without stretching or pulling it. Do not worry about the pastry hanging over the edge because this will be trimmed later.
Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 220°C (fan oven 200°C), Gas 7. Quarter, core and peel the apples. Slice them, toss in the lemon juice, then in the sugar and cornflour.
Turn the apples into the lined tin, then use a fork to distribute the slices, heaping them up towards the centre. Brush the rim of the pastry with a little milk.
Unwrap and roll out the remaining piece of pastry to about the same diameter as the first. Fold into a fan shape as before. Put the point of the fan on the centre of the pie.
Unfold the pastry over the filling and gently press the edge with your thumb tips. Hold the tin in one hand and cut off the excess, holding the knife at a slight angle.
Edge the pie by making shallow cuts with the back of a knife. Flute the edge with your fingertips, then brush the top with milk. Cut a 1cm steam hole in the centre.
Re-roll the trimmings, cut out decorative shapes and arrange on top of the pie, leaving the steam hole clear. Brush the shapes with milk and sift sugar over the pie.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C (fan oven 170°C), Gas 4 and bake for 30-35 minutes. The pastry should be golden and the filling soft when pierced.
For crisp, light pastry, always work in a cool kitchen, with cool ingredients and tools.
When rolling out the pastry dough, take care not to stretch it because this will cause it to shrink during baking.
Use only the amount of sugar specified and serve extra at the table if necessary. Sugar draws out the juice from fruit, and if there is too much, it may overflow during baking. Juice that overflows will stick on the bottom of your oven. Cornflour is added to absorb excess juice.
Putting a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats, then standing the pie tin on the sheet to cook, will give crisp pastry and catch dripping juice.
Start cooking the pie at a high temperature to brown the pastry, then reduce the heat to finish cooking the filling at a lower temperature.
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