This recipe does take time to make and is a bit fiddly, which makes it a special dessert that I normally reserve for very important occasions – to impress. It was a special birthday treat as we got older and was the first dessert I made with a heart full of love for a young man. It worked! He’s still alongside me. In retrospect, I think it was possibly a notch in the culinary prowess belt for a cook to be able to present such a dessert. Guests seemed to easily forgive any prior meal dish that was ‘not quite up to standard’ when this was served.
It’s a layered pie, starting with a sweet pastry case and a layer each of fruit purée, custard and marshmallow. The crowning glory was piped pale pink cream stars to resemble blossoms. It’s best served on your best flat crystal or silver dish.
125g cold butter, diced 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar 2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted pinch of salt 1 free-range egg yolk 2 tablespoons iced water
2-3 large apples 1/2 cup (125ml) water 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar 2 plump passionfruit
200ml condensed milk 1 large free-range egg yolk juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons gelatine powder juice from cooked apples and made up to 1 cup (250ml) with water if necessary 1/2 teaspoon lemon essence 1 large free-range egg white pinch of salt red food colouring whipped, sweetened cream
Method: Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced 160°C).
To make the pastry, put the butter, sugar, sifted flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse blend until coarse knobbly crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture clumps. If the mixture is a little dry, add more water. Tip the dough out onto a flour-dusted bench and quickly and lightly knead into a smooth ball. Roll out to line a 20cm pie plate or flan pan. Trim the edges and pinch the pastry together with your fingers to decorate. Prick the bottom to prevent it rising in the centre and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
To make the first layer, peel, core and slice the apples. Put in a pan with the water and sugar and simmer until the apples are soft and pulpy. Drain the syrup and reserve it for the third layer. Stir the passionfruit pulp into the apple purée and refrigerate. When cold, spoon the mixture into the cooled pastry case, smooth the top and refrigerate.
To make the second layer, put the condensed milk with the egg yolk and lemon juice in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Carefully spread over the apple layer and return the pie to the fridge.
To make the third layer, dissolve the gelatine in the reserved warm apple syrup, stir in the lemon essence and set aside to cool. Whisk the egg white and salt in an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form and then colour a pale pink with red food colouring. Keeping the mixer on a high speed, gradually add the partly set apple juice and continue beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. Pile on top of the pie and smooth evenly. Decorate with pale pink whipped sweetened cream ‘stars’.
Tip: The pastry and the apple purée can be made ahead of time. The gelatine mixture must be very wobbly, not too set or too liquid, when whipped into the egg white. Recipe and extract from Apple Blossom Pie by Kate McGhie, published by Murdoch Books, $49.99, available now.