When English Heritage asked me if I'd like to attempt to cook a heritage apple recipe to mark their annual apple festival I leapt at the chance without really knowing what I was letting myself in for!
The recipe for Pippin Pie from the 18th century that arrived was vague to say the least. Still, I've given it my best shot, and the result was absolutely delicious (even though I left out the sugar - sorry Jemima, Marchioness Grey!). You can see both my recipe and the original at the end of the post.
English Heritage holds an annual apple festival at Audley End, which takes place this year from Saturday 26 to Sunday 27 September. Apples have been around for thousands of years, and have been enjoyed in Britain since Roman times, if not before. Unfortunately the British apple went into decline after the Second World War, with 65% of orchards being lost in the latter half of the twentieth century. Most varieties of apple now found in UK supermarkets are from Australia and New Zealand. To help people get to know some of the British varieties of apple English Heritage have produced this tasting chart.
The Audley apple festival, which promotes the history of the apple, should help to rectify this and encourage British varieties to be grown and cooked with again. The festival sounds absolutely brilliant for families. There are over 100 apples there and you can get involved in games, try your hand out as William Tell (shooting an apple with a bow and arrow), get gardening tips, see cookery displays, crafts, food and drinks as well as live music and extensive grounds to run around and burn off steam in!
6 medium bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
115g amaretti or ratafia biscuits
4 tbsp white wine
Zest and juice of a lemon
4 egg yolks plus an extra egg, beaten
100g butter, softened
375g ready rolled puff pastry
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cook the apples in a lightly greased baking dish until soft. Remove from the oven, purée and allow to cool.
Pulse the biscuits in a food processor or crush in a polythene bag with a rolling pin until broken up into small pieces. Mix with the apples and remaining ingredients (apart from the extra beaten egg) and beat well until blended.
Roll out the puff pastry and line a greased round pie dish with it. Prick the pastry several times with a fork. Remove the excess pastry and slice into long thin strips, of about 1cm width. Fill the pie with the apple mixture, cover with the lattice strips and brush the pastry edges with the beaten egg.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Delicious with custard.
Here is the original recipe in case you're interested:
6 large apples, 4oz grated ratafia biscuits or macaroons, 4spoonfuls of white wine, rind and juice of 1 lemon, 4 egg yolks, 4oz butter, 8oz sugar, puff pastry.
Bake the apples, and puree them with the other ingredients.
Line a dish with puff pastry and full with the apple mixture.
From the cookbook of Jemima, Marchioness Grey, c.1740-60.
Disclaimer: English Heritage asked me to recreate a historic recipe. I was not paid for this post.