Dessert Island Dishes (1) – Flirtatious Apple Pie

Desserts are conspicuous by their absence in Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe published in 1719. The castaway hunts, grows corn and rice, dries grapes to make raisins for the winter months, learns to make pottery and raises goats. But, apart from human companionship, he must have pined for a good dessert (or pudding, as the British say).

Incidentally, although commonly referred to as Robinson Crusoe, the book’s complete, original title as it appears in the first edition is The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates.

Apple pie is a staple of the great British diet, but here is a version that flirts with cranberries to give it extra zest.

Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (about) ice water

Filling
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/4 pounds Pippin apples, peeled, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Plus 1 large egg yolk and 1 teaspoon whipping cream.

1. Make crust: Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter; cut in using on/off turns until butter is cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Add 7 tablespoons water and blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; divide into two pieces. Flatten pieces into disks; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 30 minutes. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

2. Make filling: Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Combine cranberries, sugar, flour and allspice in large bowl. Mix in apples, then brandy and vanilla extract.

3. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Spoon in apple filling, mounding slightly in centre. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 13-inch round. Drape crust over filling. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Press crust edges together; fold under. Crimp edge.

4. Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top (but not edge) of pie. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until apples are tender and crust is golden, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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