The town of Cygnet is the closest town to where my uncle lives in very southern Tasmania. From his windows, in his house on the rocky headland that my dad designed and they built slowly over ten years, there is nothing but ocean between me and Antarctica. When Sarah and I went to Tasmania a month or so back, we went simply to look at the ocean, to comb the beaches for interesting shells and driftwood and take walks through the sketchy coastal forest. We wanted a break from the city, you know, the simple life. But in Tasmania nothing is simple, beside the shells on the beach there is so much rope, colourful as streamers discarded after a kid’s party, washed up from the salmon farms. The rope is cut and cast into the sea. Apparently in the old days in Deep Bay, the bay that Cygnet hugs, a tall ship could be moored right up to the pub in town. Now silt clogs the bay and it’s so shallow Cranes can walk across it. There’s a pub in town that has trucks parked out the front with bumper stickers that say, ‘Green’s Lie’, ‘Earth First Log the Other Planet’s Later’, ‘Keep Warm This Winter Burn a Greenie’.
Most tourists who travel to Tasmania don’t see the logged coupes, tracts of trees are kept at the edges of the roads. Tourists are directed from National Park to National Park so that they never know about the battle for the forests of Tasmania, that is happening between these small sections of protected land. Our friend Anna Krien has written a book about this battle: Into The Woods. It’s out this week, and we’re so gosh darn proud.
When Sarah and I were there, we cooked this rustic apple pie, (with organic apples,) and tried to pull as much rope as we could from the sand.
1kg organic apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced into large hunks
raw caster sugar – to taste
1/4 cup of water
185g chilled butter
a pinch of salt
30g icing sugar
1 free-range egg
1 free-range egg whisked lightly with 2 tbsp milk for the pastry
Sift flour, salt and icing sugar together. In a food processor, or with your hands combine flour and butter until it begins to look like bread crumbs. Add egg and knead/process into a dough. Add a tspn cold water here if it doesn’t come together in a ball. Rest pastry in the fridge for one hour in two balls, one a little bigger (for the bottom) than the other in cling wrap.
While the pastry is resting, place the apples in a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of water and cook on a low heat. You can add sugar if your apples aren’t sweet enough or if you like a very sweet pie. When the apples are ready you will be able to just poke them with a knife, they will be tender enough for the knife to pass through, but they should keep their shape and not fall apart.
Roll out the top and bottom of the pie to about 5mm thick. Put the bigger into the pie dish and blind bake for ten minutes or so. When the blind baking is done, trim the edges of the pie if any pastry is falling over the edge and place the filling into the base. It should come to the top. Try not to scoop up too many juices, otherwise your pie will go soggy. Just the firm apples.
Place the other rolled piece of pie pastry on top of the filling and base and tuck in the edges, so there is no apple at the corners.
Brush the top and edges of the pie with the egg mixture, just lightly, there should be a light film over the top, not a soggy mess. Bake the pie in a 180C oven until the pastry is golden brown and the smell of apples fills the kitchen.
Serve with pure cream.