Kien’s Dutch Apple Pie

Many years ago my Dutch friend Kien gave me this recipe for Dutch Apple Pie.

Using shortbread instead of pastry and an apple filling spiced with cinnamon and rum, this cake is delicious with a cuppa or served as a dessert, with ice cream or cream.

250g plain flour
150g self-raising flour
200g sugar
300g butter at room temperature
125 sultanas
125g currants or raisins
750g peeled and sliced green apples
¾ cup rum
125g sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ cup apricot jam

Soak dried fruit in rum, preferably overnight. Pre-heat oven to 160C.  Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy in food processor or with electric beaters. Mix in flour until well mixed and sticking together.  Tip out, form into a log and refrigerate for about 30 mins wrapped in plastic wrap. Cut log into three. Cut off slices and use about one third to press all over the bottom of a buttered 30 cm spring-form pan. Bake for 20-30 mins till golden then cool.

Filling: Turn oven up to 170°C.  Mix apples with sugar and cinnamon. Line sides of cake tin with about another third of the shortbread.  It’s difficult to roll out, so the easiest way is to cut off thin slices and press them onto the sides of the tin like a jigsaw puzzle. Drain dried fruit (keep rum), mix with apples and spread evenly into tin. Use remaining shortbread to make strips and form a lattice to cover apples. You will need to roll out the dough for this. Pinch edges of the lattice onto the sides of the pie so it all joins up.  Bake for 1¼ hours or until light golden over the top. Spoon rum through holes between the lattice. Paint lattice with heated and sieved apricot jam, using a pastry brush. Cool thoroughly before removing sides of tin. Serve with whipped cream, pouring cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you make the cake the day before and want to serve it warm, don’t put the apricot glaze on. Next day reheat in a low oven for about 20 minutes and then brush with the apricot glaze. Reheating is optional – it’s perfectly nice at room temperature.

Serves 12

Gluten Free Dairy Free Apple Crumble

It’s a challenge when my gluten-free, dairy-free friend comes for dinner, but I always manage to rustle up something tasty.

Everyone loves apple crumble, so if you can’t eat gluten or dairy, this one’s for you.

1 kg apples, peeled and sliced (I used cooking apples)
2 Tbs fruity olive oil
2-3 Tbs maple syrup (or honey, or sugar to taste)
1 cup almonds, blanched or with skin on, whatever you have
1 cup desiccated coconut
¼ to ½ cup sugar, maple syrup or honey, to taste
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
To serve:
Coconut yoghurt, cream or ice cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Arrange apple slices in a large shallow baking dish. Mix in the olive oil and maple syrup.

Place topping ingredients in food processor and process until you have coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and crumbs are golden.

Serve with coconut yoghurt (photo shows cream which the rest of us had!)

Serves 8

Apple Cake

The last few posts have all been savoury, so I thought it was time for a cake.

Everyone loves apples and this recipe, which appears in various formats on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, is delicious, quick and easy. It’s raining cats and dogs as I write this – what could be better on a cold and miserable day than a warm slice of cake with my morning coffee?

This cake is also nice served warm as a dessert, with cream or ice cream.

3 eggs
¾ cup sugar (150g)
4 Tbs vegetable oil
Grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon or ½ large lemon
½ cup plain yoghurt or sour cream (125g)
1½ cups self raising flour (230g)
2 apples, cored, halved and sliced
1 tsp icing sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon
50g butter
Extra icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk with electric beaters until thick and pale. Whisk in the oil, lemon rind and juice and yoghurt or sour cream and lastly fold in the sifted flour. Scrape into a greased and bottom lined loaf pan.

Push the apple slices (leave the peel on) into the top alternating from side to side. You may think you’re going to have too many, but they just fit in nicely. Mix cinnamon and icing sugar, then sprinkle over the top, using a small sieve. Dot with small pieces of butter. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until evenly puffed and golden and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool, then sprinkle with a little more icing sugar using a sieve. Serve cold as a cake or warm as a dessert, with cream or ice cream.

Makes 1 loaf

Apple Charlotte

Thick stewed apples surrounded by crisp buttered toast, this is another dessert to add to my list of ones that everyone, including the grandkids, loves. When all hands go up for a second helping I know I’ve found a winner.

When I served it over Christmas it was described by family members as crispy French toasr with apples.

My version is loosely-based on one by Rick Stein which he makes in a pudding bowl. I decided to use a metal cake tin, because it makes it easier for the bread to crisp up. Increase the ingredients by 50% and use a bigger 10-12 inch tin to serve a bigger crowd.

30g butter
2-3 Tbs sugar (to taste)
1 kg apples, peeled and sliced (see note below)
Grated rind and juice from 1 lemon or 1 small orange
Optional: raisins, cinnamon, ground cloves etc
About 12 slices white bread, crusts removed
125g butter, melted (you may need more)
To serve:
Icing sugar
4 Tbs smooth apricot jam (push through a sieve if lumpy)
Thick cream or custard

Preheat oven to 180°C. While you are peeling the apples, put the 30g butter and sugar in a saucepan and cook, stirring, until starting to caramelise. Add the apples, lemon or orange rind and juice and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the apples have become thick and pulpy. Some apple varieties break up more easily than others. Check for sweetness and feel free to add a few raisins and a good pinch of cinnamon or cloves.

Melt the butter and use a pastry brush to butter an 8″ (20cm) metal cake pan. Cut the bread slices in halves to form two triangles, brush them with butter and use to line the bottom and sides of the cake tin, slightly overlapping each piece. Scrape apple filling into the tin and smooth the top. Bring the bread slices from the sides over the top and use more pieces to fill any gaps, so that the filling is completely encased. Brush more butter all over the top. Can be made ahead to this point and kept refrigerated.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until light golden brown on top. Carefully tip out onto a shallow baking tray and brush with any leftover melted butter. Put back in the oven for 10 minutes or until evenly browned all over.

To serve, dust with icing sugar. Heat the apricot jam, then drizzle over the top. Serve with cream or custard.

Serves 8-10

Tip: after removing the bread crusts make them into crumbs by blitzing in the food processor. Freeze in a plastic bag and use in toppings for recipes such as Seafood Mornay

Note: Bramley cooking apples are traditionally used in the UK  because they aren’t too sweet and cook down to a pulp. They are hard to find in Australia, so basically use whatever apples you have on hand. Rick Stein uses half Bramleys and half eating apples.

Apple Crumble Tart

A combination of an apple tart and an apple crumble, this dessert was a hit with young and old over the holiday period. Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or cream.

1 quantity of shortcrust pastry
1½ cups shelled almonds (can be blanched or not)
100g butter at room temperature
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbs plain flour
2 red apples, cored and thickly sliced
50g butter, melted
1/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup flaked almonds
To serve:
Vanilla ice cream or cream

Roll out pastry and line a 25cm quiche dish or flan tin. Refrigerate while making filling. For filling blitz the almonds in food processor until they resemble fairly fine breadcrumbs. Add butter and sugar and mix until creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add the eggs and flour and mix well, again stopping to scrape down the sides.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread filling evenly into uncooked pastry case and arrange the apples on top, pressing in lightly. Mix all ingredients for crumble and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Serve warm with ice cream or cream. Can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated. Reheat for 10-15 minutes to serve. Can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw before reheating.

Serves 8-10

Ebelskivers – Danish Apple Pancakes

We bought this antique copper dish in a market in Damascus in the late 1970s.
The photo shows the back of it. I’ve always used it as an ornament and it never occurred to me to use it for cooking.

In Syria it was probably used for cooking eggs. It certainly wasn’t for making Danish apple pancakes, but I decided to give it a try.

Ebelskivers are traditional Danish pancakes with applesauce in the middle. Danes eat them with red jam and cream, but we ate them as they are, coated in cinnamon sugar.

I halved the recipe I was given by a Danish friend while we were living in Copenhagen and made 21 little pancakes in my Syrian baking dish. I cooked the first seven on the stove top, but it was difficult to control the heat and they got a bit overcooked. The next two lots of 7 were baked in the oven and came out perfectly.

The good news is that having brushed each hole with melted butter the pancakes didn’t stick, which was my biggest worry. My Syrian copper dish has been moved into the cupboard with the other baking dishes. If you don’t have a special tin for making ebelskivers use a muffin pan.

1 cup SR flour (or 1 cup plain flour and ½ tsp baking powder)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1 Tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk
2 egg whites
50g butter, melted
Apple sauce (apples cooked with sugar and some spices and pureed)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
To serve:
Red jam
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place flour, bicarbonate of soda, cardamom, sugar, salt, egg  yolks and buttermilk in one bowl and the egg whites in another. Using electric beaters whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Then mix the ingredients in the other bowl using the same beaters.There’s no need to wash them, but it’s important to do the whites first, while they are clean. Fold whites into batter.

Brush each hole in the baking tin with melted butter. Spoon a tablespoonful of pancake mixture into each, then about half a teaspoon or so of apple sauce, then another tablespoon of pancake mix. Bake for 10 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Coat each pancake with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

Serve warm as they are or with jam and cream.

Makes about 20


This torn apple pancake is an Austrian speciality. The name translates as “Emperor’s mess”  after the Emperor Franz Josef, who apparently liked it so much he ate his wife’s serving too.

I first tried this on a skiing holiday in Kitzbuhel in Austria, many moons ago. I couldn’t remember the name, so it’s taken me until now to find a recipe. My first attempt was out of balance, with too much pancake and not enough apple for my taste, so I’ve adjusted the proportions. After a bit more research I found some recipes include raisins soaked in rum and so I’ve added them to the recipe as an optional extra.

75g butter
4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 large eggs, separated into two large bowls
2 Tbs sugar (to taste)
1 cup plain flour
Pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 Tbs raisins soaked for an hour in 3 Tbs Rum (optional)
Icing sugar to serve

Heat 25g butter in a medium to large non-stick frying pan (25-30cm) and cook the apples, stirring, until softening and starting to colour. Add the soaked raisins, if using, then tip out into a bowl and wipe out the pan. With electric beaters, whip egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and continue to whip until you have a thick, glossy meringue.

Using the electric beaters, gradually add the sifted flour, salt, milk and vanilla to the bowl containing the egg yolks. The beaters need to be clean for the egg whites, but  there’s no need to wash them before you do the egg yolk mixture. Using a spatula, gradually fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture.

Heat 25g butter in the frying pan. Tip in the pancake mixture and cook for 3 minutes, or until the base is golden, then turn over and cook the other side. It’s not easy to turn a large pancake, so an easy solution is to cut it into four while it’s in the pan and turn each quarter separately. Don’t worry if it breaks a bit.

When golden on both sides, tip pancake onto a plate and using two forks tear it into bite-size pieces. Wipe out the pan and put it back on the heat with the remaining 25g butter. Add the pancake pieces. Cook, stirring, until golden, then add the apples and raisins and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Divide between 4 serving plates and dust with sifted icing sugar.

Serves 4


ANZAC Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Each year on the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders remember those who lost their lives fighting for their country.

Over the ANZAC Day long weekend we had a house full, so I decided to make a fruit crumble because everyone loves them. The latest edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller featured a recipe called Apple ANZAC Pie which used the same ingredients you use to make ANZAC Biscuits, so I adapted it slightly to make an ANZAC Crumble.

ANZAC biscuits were sent by Australian and New Zealand wives to soldiers who were fighting abroad. They were popular because they kept well during naval transportation.

Rhubarb grows like a weed in our garden so I often mix it with apples. If preferred just leave it out and increase the number of apples by 2 or 3. The fresh ginger was a great addition to the fruit layer, but some of the smaller kids didn’t like it. If preferred just leave it out. And if you’re concerned that it will be too sweet, leave out the brown sugar.

The verdict on this recipe was that it’s the best crumble ever. Actually the topping isn’t very crumbly, it’s more like a fruit cobbler. Sorry it wasn’t published in time for ANZAC day, but I’m confident it will go down well any time of year.


Fruit layer:
5 large Granny Smith apples or cooking apples
About 10 sticks of rhubarb, washed and cut into 2-3cm lengths
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (optional)
6 Tbs water
185g butter
¼ cup each treacle and golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut (preferably coarse flakes)
To serve:
Vanilla ice cream or cream

Peel and slice apples and place in a saucepan with the rhubarb, sugar, ginger and water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly softened then spread into a greased 25cm pie dish.

In a large bowl melt butter, treacle and golden syrup in the microwave then mix in the bicarbonate of soda, flour, oats, sugar and coconut. Spoon all over the apple and rhubarb mixture, using a fork to cover any gaps. Refrigerate until serving time.

Pre-heat oven to 180°C then bake the crumble for 25-30 mins or until crisp and golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cream.

Serves 12

Notes: if you don’t have any treacle, double the amount of golden syrup. If you don’t have either use honey or maple syrup instead.

Joan’s Apple Crumble

JoanWe all know that children need good role models. But do we ever stop growing up? I think adults also need older friends to look up to and think “That’s how I want to be when I’m that age”. Such friends are a rare commodity and to be treasured.

When I married and moved to Canberra I left my friends and family in Europe. Fortunately a lovely lady called Joan Tyrrel, thirty years my senior, took me under her wing. She became my surrogate mother, friend and confidante.

As our family grew Joan and her husband John became an extra set of grandparents for our kids and godparents to our daughter. John had taught Matthew English at Canberra Grammar School where he was also the Chaplin for many years. The Tyrrels had three married children of their own and grandchildren. But they had enough love to go around and we were the fortunate beneficiaries.

When I rang and asked if it was okay to call in for coffee or lunch Joan never said sorry I’m busy, or it’s not convenient. She led a very full life – one of the secrets to longevity – but she always had time for me. Our shared love of cooking meant we often talked about food and swapped recipes, home grown vegetables, jars of home-made jam and chutney. People of all ages enjoyed Joan’s company because she was interested in what they were doing. With such a positive and vibrant personality, she never seemed old. I remember once asking John how he was. “I’m very well thank you” he replied, “Joan says I’m not allowed to say anything else”. We all laughed, but it was so like her.

Having grown up during the War Joan hated waste. When she switched on her dishwasher there wasn’t room for another spoon or fork. And she always cut the Finish tablets in half, swearing that half did just as good a job as a whole one.

Joan died in February 2011 aged 88, after a short battle with cancer and John followed about a year later of old age and because he was completely lost without Joan. They were very much a team and I miss them both, but mostly I miss my special friend and mentor. Her last words to me were “We had such fun together, didn’t we?”

Joan’s recipe for a quick and delicious apple crumble is different because she always left the skin on the apples and melted the butter for the topping.

Joan's Apple Crumble5 apples
1-2 Tbs sugar, to taste (Joan always used raw sugar)
125g butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 180°C. Core and slice apples and arrange in a buttered pie dish or in 6 individual ramekins. Sprinkle with sugar.

Melt butter, add sugar and cinnamon. Lastly add flour and crumble between fingers. Sprinkle over the apples, then bake at for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Once cooked the individual apple crumbles will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days, covered. Just zap in the microwave for a minute, top with some ice cream and serve for an instant mid-week dessert.

Serves 6

Apple Tart Rue de Vermont

When I worked for the British Mission to the UN in Geneva, located on the 5th floor of a large building on the Rue de Vermont, there was a patisserie at street level. By mid-morning irresistible smells came wafting up through the office window, so someone was dispatched to buy a few slices of apple tart, still warm from the oven, to keep us going till lunch time. Those were the days when I could do that on a regular basis, without it going straight to my hips!

Before I left Switzerland I asked the owner if she would part with the recipe and she was happy to do so. Puff pastry is a bit of a pain to make, so I usually buy it. That is until I discovered Nigella Lawson’s food processor version which is a cinch to make and of course much nicer. Actually any pastry will do and you may prefer to use shortcrust pastry, bought or home-made.

Apple Tart Rue de Vermont

Nigella’s Food Processor Puff Pastry

2 cups plain flour
Good pinch of salt
250g butter, cut into ½ cm slices
2 tsp lemon juice
4-5 Tbs cold water

1 kg eating apples, peeled and sliced
2 eggs
2 Tbs plain flour or almond meal
½ cup milk (or half milk and half cream)
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Extra sugar

Pastry: place flour, salt and butter in food processor. Pulse until butter has been cut into small pieces but is still visible. With the motor running add the lemon juice and enough water for the pastry to start to stick together, then stop immediately. Don’t process for long because you want to keep the pieces of butter intact.

Tip out the sticky crumbs and with floured hands form them into a neat rectangle about 15 cm long and about half as wide. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 mins. Remove from fridge and roll pastry until the long side is twice as long. Fold one end into the middle and the other end over it to the edge, like an envelope. Turn pastry so the open ends are at the bottom and top, then roll again into a long rectangle. Repeat the folding and rolling twice, but the last time don’t do the final rolling – leave it with the open ends. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or up to three days. Can be frozen.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove pastry from fridge and, unless you’re working on a hot summer’s day, let it stand for a short while, so it’s not rock hard. Roll out on a floured surface and use to line a rectangular metal Swiss roll or slice tin, trimming off any excess. Mine is 35x25cm. Arrange rows of overlapping apple slices over the base. Be generous – the pie should be very full with the apple slices standing almost upright.

In a small bowl with a fork or balloon whisk, mix egg with flour (or almond meal) and sugar, then gradually mix in milk/cream. Brush over the apples to moisten them, then pour the rest over. Tilt tin to ensure it reaches the corners, then dot the apples with very small pieces of butter and sprinkle lightly with extra sugar. Bake for about an hour or until well browned, almost burnt in places, to give it that authentic European patisserie look. If liked shake over some extra sugar and serve warm, just as it is, or with cream or ice cream, or both!

Serves 12