Ploughman’s Pie

Nigel Slater makes an easy free-form apple pie with a cheesy pastry that could be eaten as a starter, snack or dessert. Serves 6. From Nigel Slaters Simple Suppers S02

250g/9oz plain flour
125g/4oz butter, cut into small dice, plus a little more for cooking the apples
2 free-range egg yolks, plus an extra beaten egg for brushing the pastry
4 tbsp mature farmhouse cheese, grated, plus a little more for brushing the pastry
6 medium-sized dessert apples
a pinch ground cinnamon
3 cloves
a little milk for brushing the pastry
plain yoghurt, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

To prepare the pastry, put the flour into a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips (use a food processor if you prefer.)
Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix with the flour and butter, then bring the dough together to form a ball.

Scatter the grated cheese over a large chopping board then put the dough on top, Knead the dough very lightly, pushing the grated cheese in as you go. Put into the fridge to rest, covered in cling film.

To prepare the filling, cut the apples into quarters, remove and discard the cores then cut the fruit into chunks.

Put a generous slice of butter into a non-stick pan over a moderate heat, add the apples and leave to cook, with the occasional stir, until they are lightly coloured and starting to soften. Stir in the cinnamon.

Roll the pastry out into a rough circle about 35cm/14in in diameter, then transfer it to a baking sheet or roasting tin. Pile the apples in the centre of the pastry leaving a wide rim around the edge; tuck in the cloves. Pull the edges of the pastry in over the apples, leaving those in the centre quite visible.

Mix the remaining beaten egg with a little milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then scatter a little extra grated cheese.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Serve warm, with yoghurt or creme fraiche, if you wish.


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