This pie is inspired by the savoury Moroccan “pastilla”. Traditionally it was an elaborate meat pie made with squab pigeons and “werqa” dough [a thinner version of filo], but it now tends to be made with shredded chicken and filo pastry.
This twist on the original is a sweet version, using stewed apples and cinnamon sugar layered through the pastry with butter.
It is created in a cake tin and then inverted just before baking. This gives the apple pie a smooth crispy top to crack through when cutting. As you can imagine it’s very important to make sure that the pie filling is well enclosed before inverting it.
6 granny smith apples, or other green apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla pod
115g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornflour
80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 sheets of filo pastry
icing sugar, for dusting
You will also need:
a 22cm diameter springform cake tin, lined with baking parchment
vanilla ice cream or double cream
Put all the apples in a non-reactive bowl with the lemon zest and juice. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the apple mixture. Add half the sugar and toss everything together.
Put the remaining caster sugar in another bowl with the cinnamon and mix to combine. Set aside for later.
Put the apples in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water and set over a low heat. Cover and cook until the apples are soft but not mushy. Transfer the apples to a bowl to cool. When completely cool, stir in the cornflour.
Preheat the oven to 220°C [425°F] and put a baking tray in the heat.
Brush the cake tin with a little of the melted butter and line with baking parchment.
Lay a sheet of filo pastry onto a clean surface and lightly brush with melted butter. Sprinkle over some of the cinnamon sugar and cover with another sheet of filo. Place the two sheets into the cake tin and carefully press onto the bottom and around the sides. Let the pastry ends hang over the rim.
Repeat again with another two sheets placing them the opposite direction to the first two sheets, creating a cross. Again repeat again with another two sheets placing them at an angle between the other sheets, and again with the last two sheets. By now the cake tin should be totally covered on the bottom and around the sides with pastry draped over the entire rim.
Spoon the apples into the tin and press down gently with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle any remaining sugar over the apples.
Start folding the pastry ends into the centre of the tin covering the apples and enclosing the filling. Lightly brush with the melted butter.
Working quickly, remove the hot baking tray from the oven and line with baking paper.
Carefully invert the tin onto the baking try. Remove the sides and base of the tin and the parchment lining and brush the top of the pastry with some melted butter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and crisp. Then let cool slightly on the baking tray.
Transfer to a serving plate and dust liberally with icing sugar.
Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or double cream.
[This recipe is adapted from Ross Dobson’s Moroccan Apple Pie.]