225g (8 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (1¾ cups)
55g (2 oz) butter, cubed (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
55g (2 oz) shortening, cubed (¼ cup)
8 tsp cold water
For the filling
300ml (10 fl oz) water
100g (3½ oz) sugar (½ cup)
450g (1 lb) granny smith apples (about 3 medium)
strip of lemon rind
squeeze lemon juice
28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp)
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)
For the meringue
2 egg whites
55g (2 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¼ cup)
You will also need a 20.5 cm (8 inch) loose bottomed flan case and a baking tray/sheet.
For the pastry
Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Rub the butter and shortening into the flour until there are no lumps and the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs.
Now sprinkle the water evenly over the surface (if the water is added unevenly, it can cause blistering when the pastry is cooked). Then, using a pallet knife, bring the mixture together.
Once it starts to clump together, remove from the bowl and knead lightly to form a firm, smooth dough.
Pop in a plastic bag or cover with cling film/plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F (225°C) (gas 7).
Now, on a floured surface, roll out the pastry in one direction only, turning it occasionally. Then line the flan case and trim the edges to neaten. Prick the base of the pastry with the tines of a fork to make sure no air gets trapped underneath the pastry.
Bake blind for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 300°F (150°C) (gas 3).
For the filling
While the pastry is cooking start preparing the filling.
In a medium-sized pan make a sugar syrup by gently dissolving the sugar in the water over a low heat.
While the sugar in dissolving, peel, core and cut the apples into small chunks.
Once the sugar has dissolved, add the apples along with the strip of lemon rind and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the apples have softened but still hold their shape.
Drain the apples and then add the butter. Stir to melt the butter into the apples, mashing them slightly. Now add the egg yolks and mix in.
Once the flan case has cooled, carefully remove the pastry case and sit it on a baking tray/sheet. Fill with the apple.
For the meringue
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Pile the meringue on top the apple, making sure it completely covers the filling. Finally pull the meringue up into peaks using the tip of a knife.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The meringue will be crisp and lightly browned on the outside but still soft on the inside.
This is one of my favourite fish pies which is really good to serve to guests as it looks so scrumptious and different when baked. Filo pastry keeps it light and is used in a decorative way as a topping. The herby cream cheese filling which is added to cubes of salmon and prawns/shrimp is so smooth and delicious too.
You will need a 20cm (8 in) loose-bottomed flan tin, 3.75cm (1½ inches) deep, buttered, and a baking sheet. Also a deep sided frying pan/skillet.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) gas 6.
Pop the baking sheet in the oven to heat up while preparing the pie.
Now bring some water to the boil in the frying pan/skillet. It will need to be deep enough to cover the salmon. Then add the salmon and bring back to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the pan/skillet and leave for the water to poach the salmon, about 2–3 minutes, until it is just cooked.
With a slotted spoon, remove the salmon and leave on a plate to cool completely.
Meanwhile, beat together the crème fraîche, cream cheese, eggs, herbs, and seasoning until the mixture is smooth.
Take two of the sheets of pastry, cut them in half to give four sheets. Brush one sheet with melted butter, then lay a second sheet on top, rotating it slightly so the edges don’t line up. Brush this sheet with melted butter. Now lay a third sheet on top, again rotating it slightly, and brush with butter. Lay the fourth sheet on top, slightly rotated.
Lift the pastry layers and line the flan tin, gently pressing the pastry down into the tin. The edges of the pastry should extend over the rim. Now brush the top layer of pastry with melted butter.
Brush the remaining piece of pastry with melted butter and put to one side.
Place the salmon cubes over the pastry and then add the prawns/shrimps.
Pour over the cream mixture.
Now bring the edges of the pastry up over the the filling around the edge, leaving it roughly scrunched up.
Tear the remaining piece of pastry into long strips. Scrunch these up and use them to cover the exposed filling.
Place the flan tin on the hot baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is crisp and turning golden in colour.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes for the filling to set.
Now carefully lift the pie from the tin but leave on the base. Let it cool for 2 minutes then gently slide off the base.
Serve cut into wedges along with a green salad.
Filo pastry dries out very quickly, so keep it covered until it is needed to be used.
As the pastry does not contain any fat it can be refrozen. Remove the packet from the freezer to thaw, keeping it covered. Then when the pastry is needed, unroll it and remove the 3 sheets. Now carefully roll the pastry back up, return it to its wrapping and place back in the freezer.