Unlike James Bond, who pecks at his poached eggs and eventually pushes them away, Commander Pedersen of the Manta, a US Navy submarine brought in to help catch Largo and find the remaining atom bomb that threatens the world in Thunderball (1961), has a great appetite. On the eve of an epic underwater battle, Commander Pedersen cheerfully orders a hearty meal of Virginia ham, apple pie and ice-cream and iced coffee.
In this recipe for apple pie, I’ve been inspired by a recipe for Vermont apple pie, published in John and Marie Roberson’s 1957 tome, The Famous American Recipes Cookbook. Apart from being more or less contemporary with the events of Thunderball, the recipe is an appropriate one for James Bond. Vermont is a state that Ian Fleming knew well. His friend, Ivar Bryce, whom he often visited, had a home there, and Fleming made Vermont the setting of the short story, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1960). It’s not improbable that Ian Fleming enjoyed a slice of apple pie while he was there.
The original recipe, said to be one of Vermont’s oldest maple recipes, is unsweetened, since it is intended to be accompanied by maple sauce. Given that Pedersen has ice-cream with his pie, in my recipe, I combine the apples liberally with maple sugar, thus retaining the regional flavour.
For the pastry
- 450g plain flour
- 225g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-5 tbsp cold water
For the filling
- 5-6 apples (c 550g)
- 3-4 tsp maple sugar
In a mixing bowl, mix the flour and butter together with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt, then sprinkle four tablespoons of water evenly over the mixture. Turn the mixture over with a tablespoon or knife, then bring it together with your hands to form a dough. If necessary, add a little more water. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Put the dough into a plastic food bag and refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes.
While the dough is refrigerating, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan-assisted; 400F) and grease a pie dish or flan tin with butter. Peel and core the apples. (Place them in a bowl of water with some lemon juice to prevent the apples turning brown.)
Remove the pastry from the fridge. Cut off a third of it and put the smaller portion to one side. On a floured surface, roll out the larger portion so that the pastry is of sufficient size to cover the base and the sides of the pie dish, with a little overhanging. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and lay the pastry over the dish. Prick the base a few times with the ends of a fork.
Dry and chop the apples into small chunks. Fill the pie dish with the apple and sprinkle the maple sugar over the apples.
Roll out the remaining portion portion of pastry. Lay the pastry over the top of the pie and crimp the edges of the pastry top and base together with a fork (or squeeze them together with your fingers). Remove excess pastry with a knife. Prick the pie lid with a fork and, if wished, brush the lid with some milk.
Place the pie in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool for a little while before serving. Delicious hot or cold.