Why is an Indian living in Australia baking an apple pie for America’s Independence Day?
The 4th of July has special significance for me. While some friends and family in USA will be celebrating Independence Day, I will be celebrating 13(!) years since I moved from Bharat Mata (India) to the Lucky Country (Australia).
Thirteen years of trying to figure out if I’m Indian or Australian. For the record, I consider myself Indian-Australian, but to what degree depends on the situation (e.g. I’m Indian when it comes to cricket).
Thirteen years of learning the lingo. I thought I was moving to an English-speaking country but Aussies speak “Straylan”. It should have clicked as soon as the immigration officer at Perth airport greeted me with, “G’day! How you going?”
Thirteen years of getting my Indian rice-and-curry tastebuds acquainted with Vegemite soldiers for brekkie; snags on a barbie for lunch; Anzac bikkies for afternoon tea and a Pav for dessert. And sushi. And paella. And falafel. And pasta.
Thirteen years of soaking up Aussie sunshine with a Slip-Slop-Slap, making the most of Tight-arse Tuesday (cheap movie tickets), and finally getting the drier-than-the-Outback Aussie wit.
Getting back to the business of making this apple pie…
Four weekends have come and gone since we went apple-picking in Bilpin. Since then, C1 has been badgering me to bake Apple Pie. With only five Granny Smiths left from our eight kilo haul, I thought I’d better get on to it.
Fortunate coincidence then that it was just in time for USA’s Independence Day!
Given my personal history with this date, I thought I’d put an Indo-Aussie spin on this American favourite by adding some macadamia nuts and a spoonful of garam masala (an Indian spice mix of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, etc.).
APPLE PIE RECIPE
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups (310 g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
A pinch of salt
225 g cold butter, cubed
5 tbsp ice-cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk (for egg wash) – optional
For the filling:
5 Granny Smith (cooking) apples
50 g butter
100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
1 tsp garam masala or cinnamon
A handful of sultanas (optional)
A handful of chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
To make flaky short-crust pastry, you have to have COLD butter and COLD water.
Add a few ice cubes to a cup of water to keep it chilled.
Chop up the butter into small cubes and pop this back into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
If you’re using a food processor:
Pulse the flour and cold butter together in short bursts until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the icy water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough just about comes together.
If you’re making the dough with your hands:
Crumble the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it reaches the ‘breadcrumb stage’. Try lifting the flour-butter mix up high to aerate it.
Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough or your pie crust will be chewy.
Divide the dough, keeping 2/3 for the pie base and the rest for the top. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for an hour.
To make the pie filling:
Peel, core and slice your apples.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter, add the brown sugar and stir to get a caramel sauce. Now add the salt, garam masala and apples and mix well. Turn off the heat – there’s no need to cook the apples. Lastly add the sultanas and nuts (if using).
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Grease a pie dish with butter.
Dust your benchtop and rolling pin with flour.
Take the pastry out of the fridge. Roll out the larger portion of pastry into a circle that’s big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pie dish, leaving an overhang.
Spoon the apple pie filling into the base.
Roll out the remaining dough. Cut it into 2cm wide strips. Make a lattice on top of the pie by alternately laying out the horizontal and vertical strips. Cut off any excess pie dough around the edge.
Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash on top of the lattice to give the pie a nice glaze once baked.
Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side.
So tell me, do you like working with your hands? What’s your favourite kind of apple for eating?