Getting just desserts: top 8 apple pies tested

IT’S apple season, which means the best of vitamins and minerals are falling from the trees.

Getting just desserts: top 8 apple pies tested

IT’S apple season, which means the best of vitamins and minerals are falling from the trees.

Simple stewed apple is versatile as a sauce with chicken, pork, ham, flat fish such as plaice, or oily fish such as mackerel or tuna.

Good with ice cream, oatmeal biscuits or a sponge cake, try freezing it to have as a healthy spoonful in a cone.

Quarter the apples (no need to peel) and put in a saucepan with a dessertspoon of sugar to every four apples and enough water to cover the bottom of the saucepan. Bring to the boil and turn down. Watch carefully as ideally you want a pulp that is not watery and is nicely fluffy. This may take as little as five minutes, depending on the texture of the apples.

Sieve, or mash and pick out the skins. Test for sweetness before serving.

For today’s survey I looked at how apples are used in bought cakes and desserts.

It proved in most cases that homemade is the best value and delivers the best flavour. Most of them were not worth buying and most of them tasted the same — uninteresting and over-sweet.

It’s difficult to beat our own so I have put some recipes on my blog to tempt you —

Farmgate, English Market, Cork, 200g €3.50

This portion of pie sold at the self-service counter in a foil carton has real apple, and plenty of it with no thickeners or unnatural flavourings. There is a slight hint of cloves but no sign of any. The pastry is light and melts in the mouth. A lovely, old fashioned, genuine dessert. Not cheap, but worth it for the real thing.

Score: 8.5

Apple turnover Marks & Spencer, €1.59

Light pastry scattered with crunchy sugar is enticing, but the filling disappoints. Like so many other samples, the apple is chopped and coated in a thickened sauce which is sweet and overpowers any tartness which would contrast with the sweet pastry.

Score: 5.75

Apple turnover Lidl, 79c

Chewy pastry is not typically light as flaky or puff pastry should be and not as buttery as expected. However, it was light and tasty. It is filled with apple in a thickened sauce which was just sweet with no distinctively apple flavour.

Score: 5.75

Old Mill Apple Crumble, 780g €4.75

A sweet, nicely crumbly crumble tops a sweet apple mixture which isn’t tart enough to be interesting. There is a lot of topping, so the result is a sweet pie that will stretch to feed at least six people.

Score: 5.5

Cuisine de France 650g €2 for 6

Shortcrust pastry is dusted with icing sugar and is quite good, though not as tooth-some as we would have liked. The pastry becomes a little claggy in the mouth after the initial bite. The filling is the same as so many others, chopped and coated in a sweet thickened sauce which results in a taste which is less of apple and more of general sweetness.

Score: 5.75

Mr Kipling 8 Bramley apple pies, 525g €2.23

There is a little more apple flavour here than some of our samples and the ingredients list tells us the filling is a purée of apple. Also listed is modified maize starch which I expect is used to thicken this and many other of the apple fillings of our sampling. There are flavourings, raising agents and gelling agents, as well as adipic acid which is used to provide a tart flavour and as a gelling agent and flavouring. Perhaps this is where the slightly tart flavour came from and not from cooking apples.

Score: 5

Apple pie from fresh counter, Super-Valu Merchants Quay, Cork, 700g €4.39

Dusted in icing sugar, the pastry is quite heavy and inside the apple is in larger slices than other samples, but in the same sweet sauce delivering little flavour. Not good value.

Score: 4

Lynch’s Apple Crumble, 600g €4.76

This pie has a deep coating of fine pastry crumb which has a lot of sugar mixed in. The apple is in larger slices than some samples but is equally tasteless and lacking in the deliciously tart flavour we expect under an apple crumble.

Score: 4

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