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Preheat oven to 180C, gas mark 4, 350F.
First make the shortcrust pastry and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer. Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce the speed and mix in the flour. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour, otherwise it is difficult to handle.
Peel and core the apples and chop into chunks. Put into a 3cup/1 1/2pt/840ml pie dish. Add sugar and perhaps a clove or two.
Roll the pastry into a sheet 3mm/ 1/8in thick and cut several strips to fit on to the lip of the pie dish. Brush the tip of the dish with cold water and press the strips of pastry firmly on. Brush the pastry strips with cold water and then press the pastry lid firmly down onto the edges. Trim off the excess pastry. Flute the edges and scallop with the back of a knife. Brush the pie with beaten egg. Cut some pastry leaves from the excess pastry and use to decorate the pie. Cut a hole in the centre. Brush with egg wash again.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until the apple is almost cooked (test with a skewer). Whisk the egg and sugar together, then mix in the cream and vanilla essence. Open up the hole in the centre of the pie if necessary and pour in the custard from a jug. Put the pie back into the oven for a further 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard has set. Sprinkle the pastry with a little granulated sugar and serve.
2lb apples 900g
1/2cup sugar 4oz/100g
2 or 3 cloves (optional)
For the shortcrust pastry:
1/2cup butter 4oz/100g
1oz granulated sugar 25g
1 egg, free-range if possible
6oz white flour 175g
beaten egg, to glaze
For the custard:
1 large egg, free-range if possible
1/2cup cream 1/4pt/140ml
1/2tsp vanilla essence