It is September but you wouldn’t be able to guess by the temperature that Autumn is closing in. The only clue that gives it away is the golden sunlight which seems to come every year at this time. I love it, everything glows this radiant, harvest golden light. It is a time for gathering all the fruit we have on the trees and bushes and making it into lovely pies.
Last week we picked a bowl full of blackberries and some ripe apples from the garden to make into blackberry and apple pie. I was chuffed as I got to test out my new pie bird from Dunelm.
I used a recipe from Jamie Oliver for Blackberry and Apple pie and for the perfect shortcrust pastry. Both were fantastic, I cannot recommend the pastry recipe highly enough, if you are frightened of making your own pastry, worried it won’t be light enough then please try this one. I followed Jamie’s tip of adding Lemon zest and actually it is a really nice, light touch which makes it not so stodgy and a bit more crisp. He really does have some fabulous homemade classic recipes, they never seem to fail me, definitely my type of cooking Jamie!
The only alteration I made to the Blackberry and Apple pie recipe is that I added cinnamon with the apples and blackberries while they were cooking. I always do this with my apple pies as I love the combination of the two flavours. Jamie recommended adding it onto the pie bottom before adding the apples but I chose to ignore this and add before. Who knows his pie may have turned out yummier than mine but I don’t think it is really possible, it was so delicious.
Before putting on the top layer of pastry I added the pie bird. For those of you who don’t know what a pie bird is for, apart from looking adorable (my guests thought it was just a cute decoration) it actually serves a very good purpose (thanks Wikipedia!)
A pie bird, pie vent, pie whistle, pie funnel, or pie chimney is a hollow ceramic device, originating in Europe, shaped like a funnel, chimney, or upstretched bird with open beak. Funnel-style steam vents have been placed in the center of fruit and meat pies during cooking since Victorian times; bird shapes came later.
Pie funnels were used to prevent pie filling from boiling up and leaking through the crust by allowing steam to escape from inside the pie. They also supported the pastry crust in the center of the pie, so that it did not sag in the middle, and are occasionally known as “crustholders”. Older ovens had more problems with uniform heating, and the pie bird prevented boil-over in pie cooking.
The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” makes reference to “Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie…” but it is uncertain whether pie vents were designed to look like birds because of this song.
And I’m convinced it did wonders for this pie, there was no soggy pastry, no leaking juices or fruit just an absolutely lush pie filled with homegrown goodies. Ooooh delicious. I’ve now got some plums from the tree to cook up into something wonderful, where is my apron? :)