M Cooks: Cox's Orange Pippin Apple Pie

Even grandmother would approve of this traditional English fruit pudding.

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'What's in a name?" I hear you cry. "Surely an apple is an apple?" No, it is not, and I forbid you to try this pudding with any other apple but this classically British variety.

You know that game we used to play as teenagers? If this person were a car, what kind of car would he or she be? Or if this person were an animal, what kind of animal would he or she be? Well, if Keira Knightley were a fruit, she would be a Cox's Orange Pippin apple.

To my mind, this apple is the fruit equivalent of an English summer's day. My idea of happiness is strolling through the English countryside on such a day, with Keira obviously, munching on one of these apples. The flavour is astounding, and the texture second to none.

Apple pie is such a great dish; it is one of the few puddings my grandmother approved of, in part because of its fruit content but also because of its long tradition in British cuisine. In the olden days they didn't even use sugar, another reason my grandmother would approve of it, but I find that a little excessive. Here we have not gone over the top, but you need a little sweetness, since it also brings out the flavour of the apples.

There is a recipe for apple pie dating back to 1381, which states you should use "good" apples. The Cox's Orange Pippin didn't exist back then, which is undoubtedly why the medieval chef doesn't mention it. It arrived in the 19th century, taking its name in part from the orange flush of the fruit's skin (again, reminiscent of Keira's English rose complexion).

Maybe I should just talk about Keira Knightley instead of apple pie? No, back to work, for I am dedicated to your eating pleasure. So, apple pie. Do not be put off by the crust, or pastry, either. So many people are scared of pastry. Make pastry your friend, treat it with care and love and it will look after you as well. Just don't smother it. The key to good pastry is, less is more. Not too much touching.

Now, I wonder if Keira likes apple pie?


Cox's Orange Pippin apple pie


For the apple filling

1kg Cox's Orange Pippin apples (about 6)

200g sugar

10g cinnamon

1 vanilla bean, split in half

50g cornflour


1. Peel, core and dice the apples into approximately 1.5cm cubes.

2. Place apples in a cooking pot over medium heat and add the sugar, cinnamon and split vanilla bean. Cook until apples release juice and soften, about 15 minutes.

3. Mix the cornflour with just enough cold water to dissolve. Pour mixture over apples. Cook just to thicken, about 10 minutes. Take off heat and place in clean pan to cool, also for about 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

For the cream cheese pie crust:

450g cold butter

450g flour

450g cream cheese


1. Cut the cold butter into 1cm cubes.

2. Mix flour and cream cheese, add the

cold butter chunks and mix to form the dough. Do not overwork. Try to keep a few remaining chunks of the butter throughout the dough. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until cold.


1. Roll the dough 2cm thick and line each of eight individual ceramic dishes with the dough, then chill in the refrigerator again until cold.

2. Fill the pastry-lined dishes with the apple filling, then cover the top with another disc of dough. Crimp the edges and trim off the excess.

3. Cut a small slit in the top of the dough and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes or until the apples bubble in the middle and the crust is golden brown.