One could be forgiven for thinking that Ireland has no apple season, such is the selection of apples on offer every week of the year in every supermarket in the country. Indeed, it is often difficult to find one Irish apple among them.
Ard Cairn Russet, Irish Peach, Kerry Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly and Kilkenny Pearmain are just five from the Irish Seed Savers collection. Irish Seed Savers have a wonderful collection of Irish heritage apples at their orchards in Scarriff, Co Clare. They do invaluable work preserving many varieties of apples from extinction, ensuring a source of genetic diversity for future generations.
This is not to overlook all the cooking apples that will begin to appear in the coming months: varieties of bramleys, Arthur Turner and D’Arcy Spice. Do people still bake apple tarts? Like the ones our mammys and grandmothers made? Served with lashings of whipped cream and muscovado sugar. Sweet apple pies, as Darina Allen observes, were a staple in Irish homes of the 20th century, being passed down from mother to daughter. Before modern ovens, the pies would have been cooked in a bastible.
How to make a simple apple pie
Sift 300g of self-raising flour into a large bowl. Rub in 150g of cubed, cold butter until the mixture resembles sand. Add 75g of caster sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Add two whisked eggs and knead until a dough forms. If the dough is a little dry, add a splash of milk. Divide the dough into two, cover and rest the pastry for 20 minutes in the fridge.
Roll out both pieces to equal sizes. Grease a circular baking tin and place one piece of dough on the bottom. Peel and roughly slice three cooking apples. Place the apples on top of the dough base and sprinkle 75g of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon over them. Cover with the remaining pastry and crimp the edges. Brush with beaten egg yolk and bake for 45 minutes at 180 degrees.