Apple Pie

A while ago I saw the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic.  I apologise to all the people around me at the cinema when I constantly burst into laughter at the Finnish references.  As my partner is half Finnish, I seemed to find it all quite amusing for some reason.  The central character of the movie is asked why she uses Finland for all her excuses?  She replies, “because no one ever checks up on Finland”.

Comedic opportunities aside, I found that reference interesting.  As I have been fortunate to visit this beautiful part of the world, I suppose in a way Finland is one of the best kept secrets around.  (See some pictures from Suomenlinna Island below!)

And because I am inherently interested in baking, perhaps it would follow that Finnish baked goods are also some of the best kept secrets around?  Given that, this month I will endeavour to investigate traditional Finnish baked goods.

I recently baked Pulla.  Next up?  Omenapiirakka … or Finnish apple pie.  We are right in the middle of prime apple picking season so a perfect time for this pie.

I must say up front, you need to try this pie.  The best part for me was how easy the pastry was to make.  And even better than that, how delicious it was.  I actually made the pastry a day ahead and was able to quickly roll out, top with apple and then bake in less than 45 minutes.

To keep it simple, I served with a light dusting of icing sugar and some rich vanilla ice cream to complement the gooey caramelised apple centre of the pie. 

I asked my partner if he had eaten Omenapiirakka when living in Finland.  He had not.  But he swiftly gave me a list of things he remembered from Finland as well as his mummo’s – grandmother’s – baking.  (Kiitoksia kauhean paljon!)

Okay, pressure on now.

{ Omenapiirakka } by Beatrice Ojakangas
Finnish apple pie with cream crust

* Ingredients *

Pastry:
2 ¼ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup heavy cream

Filling:
4 tart apples, pared, cored and sliced
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze:
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

* Directions *

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the cream and mix to make a soft dough. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F or 220C.  Grease and dust a baking sheet lightly with flour.  Turn dough out onto the centre of the sheet and roll out to make a 12 inch / 30 cm square.

Combine the apples, sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Arrange the apples in rows over the crust, leaving about 1 ½ inches or 4 cm empty at the edges.  Turn edges up over the filling and seal the corners.  Beat egg with milk to make a glaze and brush edge.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.

Island

 Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Heksinki