Monday 5 November 2012

Autumn food for Bonfire Night


Today is Guy Fawkes Day - which traditionally commemorates the king surviving a Catholic assassination attempt but now is just an excuse to drink mulled cider, eat sausages and let off fireworks. Coming so soon after Halloween, you hear quite a lot of people harrumphing about how we should make the most of our traditional British festivals and ignore the American ones. But Halloween was British before it was American, so that doesn't really hold water.  And anyway, as I don't have children I am not particularly wedded to either event (although Bonfire Night is more fun, as far as I am concerned).

The big thing is that Bonfire Night really does mark the beginning of winter. It's properly chilly now, the leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees and all the food has rich, autumnal flavours. I've been baking cakes and breads redolent with booze, honey and spices, making hearty meals of slow-cooked meats and pulses, taking advantage of seasonal produce like quinces and girolles, and making preserves for the winter months. I've been baking pies.
Cutting the pastry offcuts into maple leaf shapes

I had in mind to make an apple pie. Then I saw this one. It was just so darn pretty I decided to decorate my pie in a similar way. I have a maple leaf shaped cutter that I knew would be just the thing. I wanted a slightly more subtle effect, so instead of kneading colours into pastry offcuts, I mixed dabs of colour with a little beaten eggwhite and smeared it onto the leaves with my fingers.
My tree shape got a little distorted
Apple, maple & walnut pie

500g shortcrust pastry
Food colouring paste
2 eggs
Apples (I used 6 very small Cox's and 5 small Bramleys)
Zest of a lemon
1tbs spices (your choice - I used cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a touch of cloves)
1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, don't even think about maple flavouring)
1tbs cornflour
75g walnuts, chopped

Peel, core and chop the apples and place in a saucepan with a splash of water and the grated lemon zest. Cook over low heat until the Bramleys have collapsed to fluff and the Cox's apples are just tender. Cool.

Gradually add the maple syrup to the cornflour in a bowl, and mix until there aren't any lumps, then beat in one of the eggs and the spices. Stir the cornflour mixture into the cooled apples and add the walnuts.

Roll out half the pastry and use to line a pie plate. Pile the apples into the dish. Separate the second egg and brush the yolk around the rim of the dish, then roll out the second half of the pastry and top the pie. Using a sharp knife, cut a tree shape out of the lid, then glaze the lid with more of the egg yolk.

Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut into leaf shapes. Beat the separated eggwhite until frothy and divide it between 3 or 4 ramekins (depending on how many colours you are going to use) and add a different colour to each one. Use a finger to dab colour on each of the cut out leaves, then mark veins on them with a toothpick and stick them on the pie. I then also glazed them with a bit more egg yolk, but I actually think that was a bad idea because it dulled the colours a bit.

Bake at 180C for about 45 minutes, or until a beautiful golden brown. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.
The perfect autumnal pie


Heather S-G said...

I think that a Bonfire night sounds like a blast...and maybe I'd even like it better than Halloween. This pie is GORGEOUS! I love your cut-outs and the way you've painted beautiful.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

What a pretty result! Those cut-outs really worked their magic. The flavours sound beautiful, too.

Suelle said...

That pie is so pretty! I wish I had the patience for this sort of thing.

PS - it sounds rather tasty too!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Heather - thanks!

Leafy - thank you!

Suelle - yes, I have quite a lot of time on my hands at the moment. But the filling is good even if you just do a normal 2 crust pie!

Unknown said...

Sounds delicious and looks BEAUTIFUL! Bravo! Bravo! Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Joanne said...

Oh my gosh!!! That pie is GORGEOUS! I would almost be too enamored to cut into it!

Barbara said...

Your pie is so cute! I love the colors of the leaves on top.

grace said...

LOVE this! it's pretty much a given that an apple pie will be delicious, but to make it super pretty too is something i can really appreciate!

Simona Carini said...

That's a really pretty pie you made. My patience would have been put to the test by the small leaves. Great job!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Chris - thank you!

Jo - fortunately it smells so good you can get over it being pretty.

Barbara - thank you!

Grace - well it has loads of cinnamon in it, so how could you go wrong?

Simona - it was a bit of a challenge, but I always hate throwing away the scraps of crust, so that made it better.

Esi said...

The pie looks wonderful. So pretty and seasonal.

mscrankypants said...

The pie looks amazing and the detail with the coloured leaves is gorgeous!

Caroline said...

That looks so beautiful. I'd never thought to decorate a pie with coloured pastry, but it makes so much sense. I know what you mean about bonfire night marking the start of winter - it always did when I was a child and it still does now. Cold weather and the sound of all your honey and spice baking is making me actually want it to be cold!


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