Like every other pumpkin-spice-loving basic bitch on the Internet, I have fully embraced the concept of 'hygge' this season. This Danish concept of 'cosiness' is having a big impact on how much I can embrace the darker days and colder temperatures of autumn. There is no literal translation for 'hygge' in English, but it amounts to living simply and seasonally, finding ways to enjoy the chilly winter days rather than just endure them, and encouraging community rather than isolation. There are copious amounts of candles and hot chocolate involved, and plenty of blankets, but more than that, it's about spending your time meaningfully, getting outdoors when you can, and spending quality time with your nearest & dearest in a low-key and switched-off sort of way.
And so it came to pass that we spent an afternoon making an apple pie in the very best way possible. In the morning, I prepped the pastry so it would be ready, using my trust Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook (seriously, this recipe has never failed me and makes the most perfect crust for your pies). With the pastry chilling in the fridge, we pulled on our walking boots and our snuggly scarves and headed over to Lotherton Hall for Apple Day!
Because, of course, picking the apples fresh from the tree and squirrelling them home to bake your pie is the pinnacle of pie-making perfection. Armed with a couple of apple-picking contraptions, a leaflet full of apple information, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, we plundered the orchard for the very best cooking apples. It was no mean feat, let me tell you! The birds and the bugs had had their pick of the apples (not to mention the toddlers who were far more skilled at this apple picking business than us!) but we walked away with a haul of 26 apples ready for baking.
With cheeks rosy pink from all that fresh air (we're all office workers, we're not used to such things...), hair slightly damp from the rather abrupt rain shower and arms full of apples, we headed back to the house for the next stage of the operation. One of my favourite parts of hygge is sharing the cooking; entertaining becomes more a communal activity than a fancy dinner party. And many hands make light work - especially when it comes to pie baking. So everyone played a part; from peeling and cutting the apples to mixing them up with spices & bitters, to rolling the pastry and pouring over the caramel and assembling the lattice on top. It was truly a group effort, and it tasted all the sweeter when we divvied it up and poured over copious amounts of cream. Truly, the best way to make (and eat) an apple pie is with friends.