“Stephen Fry’s perfectly English nostalgic treat is a joy to make and eat, with the sweet, buttery shortcrust casing and tart apple filling transporting you back to childhood. The lattice decoration is a little fiddly until you get the hang of it, but it’ll be the talk of the table. A real show-stopper! ”
To make the pastry, sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl from a height.
Chop the butter into cubes, then, using your fingertips, gently work it into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or pulse in a food processor).
Halve the vanilla pods, scrape the seeds into the bowl and mix again.
Beat 2 eggs with the milk, then add to the flour mixture and gently work it together until it forms a ball of dough. (Be careful not to overwork the pastry or it will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short.)
Divide the dough in half, sprinkle with flour, then pat each piece into a flattened round about 2½cm thick. Sprinkle over a little more flour, then wrap each piece in clingfilm and pop into the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a 24cm non-stick loose-bottomed tart tin with vegetable oil.
Tear off two large sheets of greaseproof paper. Roll out one piece of pastry between the sheets to about ½cm thick, turning every so often.
Loosely roll up your pastry around a flour-dusted rolling pin and unroll it over the oiled tin, easing and pushing it carefully into the sides. Trim off any excess, patch up any holes, then prick the base with a fork, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples and place into a large saucepan with the butter, sugar, allspice and 200ml of water.
Simmer on a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft, then carefully tip the apples into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Tip the strained liquid back into the pan and simmer over a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until reduced by half and syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Pour the cooled syrup over the apples, then fold through the blackberries.
Scrunch up a large piece of greaseproof paper, then unwrap it and use it to line your pastry case, pushing it right into the sides. Fill the case with rice or baking beans, and bake blind for 15 minutes.
Carefully remove the rice or beans, and greaseproof paper, then return the case to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Beat the remaining egg with a splash of boiling water and brush all over the inside of the pastry case, then bake for a further 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Cut your remaining pastry into quarters and roll out one piece between two sheets of baking paper to 3mm thick – this will be your pie lid. Carefully transfer to a large tray, keeping the pastry on the paper.
Roll out another quarter of pastry to about the same size as the lid and cut out strips for your lattice, using a ruler as a guide and a pizza cutter for straightness. Lay the strips over the lid, side-by-side, ensuring the sides are touching.
Roll out another quarter of pastry and cut into strips as above.
To ensure your pie is equal on both sides, lay the middle strip first, then gently lift alternate strips to weave your lattice in a criss-cross pattern.
To make the rose decorations, roll out the remaining quarter of pastry and stamp out 5 discs with the back of a piping nozzle or a 2½cm round cutter. Arrange them on a cold surface in a row, overlapping each one. Cut them in half lengthways with a sharp knife, then carefully roll up each line to create a rose effect. Repeat to make as many roses as you like.
Cut out the leaves for your flowers (I used leaf cutters in two sizes).
Take a small piece of pastry and roll it with your fingers to make one long stem. Gently drape it over your lattice, curling it where you like. Repeat to make another stem.
Dot your roses and leaves around the stems, then roll the remaining pastry into pea-sized buds and dot over the lid.
Put the lid in the fridge for 30 minutes or freeze for 5 minutes, until really firm.
Fill the pie with the cooled apple filling.
Carefully peel off the baking paper and slide the lid onto the pie. Press down on the edges of the pie dish to trim the excess and create a neat lid.
Brush with a little more egg to glaze, then sprinkle with soft brown sugar and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden.
To make the pastry go further and ensure it’s nice and thin, roll it through a pasta machine if you have one.