I have a friend who does wonders with my garden. Ron is an older English gentleman who retired so that he could pursue his passion for gardening. I’m not an gardener myself and I happily delegate everything to him. It’s the end of the fall season here and he was putting the garden to bed for the winter.
“I guess this is the last time I’ll see you this year,” I said.
“I’ll be back one more time,” he said. “I cut back the cherry tree and need to take it to the curb. Next year you’ll probably want to do something about those cedars?”
“Sure, whatever you think,” I said. “Before you go, I’d like to bake you a Christmas treat. Is there anything traditional that you’d like? ”
“English apple pie with custard!” he said, with no hesitation and an instant gleam in his eye.
Inwardly I groaned. I’ve blogged before about my struggles with making pie.
“What’s different about English pie?” I asked.
“It’s made with a different type of apple which you can’t get here. A hard cooking apple, very tart. Of course, it’s the pastry that makes it special. It takes a lot of skill to make pastry. ” I nodded in agreement. “In England we have apple pie warm or cold with a nice custard sauce.”
My growing dismay must have shown.
“You don’t have to make the custard,” he added. “I can make that.”
“Pies are not my talent,” I said. “But I will try to make you a nice one!”
I am now on a quest to make English Apple Pie.
I’ve researched English Apple pies and according to Google, British pies use a variety of apples called Bramleys. Bramleys are hard and acidic and need to be cooked before eating. In Canada the closest approximation is the Granny Smith apple
According to YouTube, British pies are different in that they’re not as sweet or cinnamon laced as American pies. They taste predominantly of apples with a sweet and sour pop of flavor.
So far I’ve made two practice pies. I’m still working on perfecting the pastry but I’m getting there. The filling though, is a bit of mystery. It’s hard to approximate an English pie when I’ve never actually tasted one. How sour is sour? Is it lemony sour or rhubarby sour?
Do you know? I’d appreciate advice from anyone who’s ever tasted and compared British and American apple pie.
Toronto, Canada. November 2020