The lovely Mr. P inspired the makings of this recipe. He loves a good pie and one in this format, resembling a strudel, makes him very happy. He likes a bit of pastry but not too much and for him the key to a successful pie is not a soggy bottom. Well, filo pastry is a good choice for guaranteed crispness and no soggy bottoms.
I love autumn and winter for the range of colours that Mother Nature displays, and for the peacefulness around us, with everything going to rest for a few months, but consequently, the seasonal produce available at this time of year is a bit more limited. I like British apples and pears as the varieties are numerous and there are lots to choose from. We get our apples and pears from High House Farm, where Piers and Suvie endlessly and painstakingly look after their fruits. We also get fantastic outdoor rhubarb and cherries from them.
For this recipe, I used Discovery apples at the beginning of the season, and now I’m using Cox’s Orange Pippin apples. I prefer an apple with a reasonable sweet and sour balance and I think these two varieties are perfect.
Ingredients & Method
For the cinnamon ice cream
- 400ml milk
- 400ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 egg yolks
- 200g caster sugar
For the apple and walnut pie
- 100g sultanas
- 50ml brandy
- 100g unsalted butter
- 500g (prepared weight) Cox’s Orange Pippin or Discovery apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm dice
- 200g caster sugar
- a pinch of table salt
- 100g ground almonds
- 50g fresh breadcrumbs
- 80g walnut pieces, chopped 6 sheets of chilled fresh or frozen (defrosted) filo pastry (each sheet about 40 x 30cm) 1
- 20g unsalted butter, melted
- icing sugar, for dusting
First, make the ice cream. Rinse a saucepan with cold water, then pour the milk and cream into the pan, add the ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks and bring to the boil over a low heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat and leave the milk to infuse for 10 minutes, then remove and discard the cinnamon sticks.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together, then add a ladleful of the warm milk and stir until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining warm milk in the pan, return to a low heat and stir continuously for 8–10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon; do not allow the mixture to boil, otherwise it may curdle. Remove from the heat, then pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and leave to cool.
Pour the cold mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen (following the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular model). Alternatively, pour the cold mixture into a shallow, freezer proof container, cover with a lid and freeze until firm, whisking the mixture 3 or 4 times during freezing (every hour or so) to break down the ice crystals and ensure an even-textured result. Keep the ice cream frozen until needed. The ice cream can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept in the freezer. Allow the ice cream to soften slightly at room temperature or in the fridge before serving.
Next, prepare the filling for the pie. Put the sultanas in a small bowl, pour over the brandy and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Place the 100g butter in a medium saucepan over a high heat, then once melted and sizzling, add the diced apples, stir to mix and cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples start to take on colour. Add the caster sugar, salt and brandy-soaked sultanas, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes or until the apples are cooked and softened, stirring regularly. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the ground almonds, breadcrumbs and walnuts. Leave the mixture to cool completely before making the pie (it is also best if you can chill the cooked apple mixture before using it, if you have time).
Once the apple mixture is cold (and preferably chilled), preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Lay one sheet of filo on a clean work surface and brush with melted butter, then place another sheet of filo on top and brush with melted butter. Repeat this process until all the filo sheets are stacked on top of each other. Spoon the chilled apple mixture along one long edge of the filo pastry stack, then roll up the filo (like a long, thick cigar or Swiss roll), enclosing the filling, but leaving the ends open. Place the filo roll on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is cooked, crisp and golden brown.
Remove from the oven, transfer the pie to a wire rack and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. Heavily dust the filo pie with icing sugar and then cut the pie widthways into 6 even slices. Serve warm with the cinnamon ice cream (store any leftover ice cream in the freezer for up to 1 week).