A short cut to an apple pie

We don’t always have the time for pastry, although it is one of the more pleasant tasks for a relaxed kitchen. But when you’re tired, and it’s late, and you still must have a pie for dessert, then there is another way. Just use a well-flavoured bread, sliced and soaked in a liqueur or spirit, bake until the bread has dried out, and invert, in the style of a tarte Tatin.

8 of the freshest Granny Smith apples, or Jonathans

4 pears

juice of 2 lemons

80g caster sugar

½ cup water

1 lemon, sliced very finely

juice of 2 oranges

2 walnut-sized pieces of unsalted butter

a punnet of raspberries

20 raisins (a handful) — thin slices of strongly flavoured white bread

½ cup good sherry or muscat


If you have an apple or pear corer then good luck to you. Use it wisely. If not, like most of us, peel the apples and pears, and chop them roughly into walnut-sized pieces, cutting out the cores as you go. Toss the pieces in the lemon juice and half the sugar.


Make the caramel. In a heavy saucepan, gently heat the rest of the sugar and water until it bubbles, and add the lemon slices. Keep moving it around until you see it changing colour. It will gradually darken. Keep cooking until the mixture goes through several bubbling changes and caramelises. All this is easily done in a microwave. Warm the orange juice and add it slowly, taking care it does not spurt. Keep it in a warm spot.


Heat the oven to 200°C.


In a heavy, low-sided pan, toss in the butter, apples, pears, raspberries and raisins, and pour the caramel-orange juice mix over the top. Heat quickly over a high flame for about a minute.


Remove from the heat, cover the apples-pears-etc. with the bread, and sprinkle the bread with the sherry or muscat. The bread should not be soaked, just given a light shower.


Place the pan in the oven and cook on the bottom shelf for about 40 minutes. Remove and test with a knife. It should pierce the apples like butter. The bread should have dried out and be on the way to crisp.


Remove from the oven. Cover with a strong plate and invert the pan over the plate. Be careful. It’s very hot. Lift the pan away gently, and there it is, a self-saucing, easy-as-you-like apple pie.

WINE: There are some lovely Australian botrytis wines made from semillon. These tend to be richer, more powerful styles than their riesling cousins. De Bortoli makes the most famous (labelled Sauternes), Wolf Blass makes a ripper at Clare (labelled Noble Gold), and Morris at Rutherglen occasionally releases one.