This is a pie for those days when you just can’t make up your mind.

You might be tossing up whether there is any point continuing to watch Breaking Bad (half a season in. It just seems a little… grim).

You may be pondering what in the heck we’re going to do about the Eurozone.

You might be dithering about what hotel to book for your escape from Christmas to Miami (yes, it seems you really can lose hours and hours of your life down the black hole of Tripadvisor reviews).

You may be torn on whether it’s bad form to dob in your yoga instructor (constantly arriving 15 minutes late, being surly and barking at one poor new girl ‘do you speak english?’ when she didn’t follow a vague instruction perfectly. None of this  does great things for my zen).

Or you may be completely unable to decide between the prospect of apple, or pecan pie for pudding.

Both have their merits (best chalked up in a spreadsheet, for full decision making effect).

Apple:
Makes the best of the season’s crop.
A pliable and soft filling, with a nice touch of acid.
It’s sporting when piping hot, but also excellent cold from the fridge with a splodge of cream.
Apples play nicely with cinnamon, which is an excellent anti inflammatory, so we can chalk it up as a health boon too.

Pecan:
The caramel. It’s all about that brown sugar goo against the crisp crust of pastry.
Where there’s caramel, there’s the potential for flakes of maldon. There aren’t many days that aren’t improved with a touch of salted caramel.
Pecans are a woefully under used nut. While there’s a terrific recipe in a great low carb ebook for borlotti beans with roast pear, pecans and blue cheese, they don’t get nearly enough of a showing in my kitchen.

It looks like a tie. Which is when a compromise comes in handy.

Apple Pecan Pie takes the best of both worlds, tumbles them in together and adds a lick of booze for good luck.

It’s the highlights of both hero ingredients, with a nip of a spicy brown spirit in the filling and a shot or so of vodka in the crust (for additional flakiness only, I promise).

Though when you’re really torn, a drink or two can be the best sort of assistance. That, and a slice of pie.

Now the only decisions to make is whether to eat it with ice cream or cream… and whether you have to share.

Pecan/Apple Pie, with Vodka Crust

Serves 4-6

Nb, you could just use a bought pie crust, or a packet of shortcrust pastry. As for the vodka pastry, it’s a sneaky peak inside one of the recipes I tested for my next book. There it makes its presence felt in a summery Peach Melba pie. The benefits of the vodka is that when stashed in the freezer, the alcohol content will make it chill much harder than water. When baking the alcohol evaporates, leaving you with a lovely flaky crust.

Equipment

1x 20 cm pie dish. 1 pastry brush. 1 rolling pin.

Shopping/foraging

For the pastry

250 grams plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
50 grams of icing/ powdered sugar
125 grams of cold butter, cut into pieces size of playing dice
3 tablespoons of very cold vodka, from the bottle in your freezer
2 eggs, 1 beaten for the pastry, 1 beaten for the egg wash to glaze the pastry with.

For the filling

4 medium apples (around 700 grams). I like a combination of 2 cooking apples like Cox and sweeter red, like Fuji
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup/125 grams of pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
2/3 cup of light brown/muscavado sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp corn flour/cornstarch
1.5 tbsp brandy or port or bourbon
1 pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream to serve.

Method

1) To make the pastry sieve together the flour and sugar into a large mixing bold. Use your fingertips to rub the cold cubes of butter into the flour, until it looks like breadcrumbs (or if you have a food processor, blitz together briefly until you have the same effect).

2) Add one beaten egg and the vodka and mix with your fingertips, then your whole hand, kneading gently to come together. Divide the dough into two sections, one with 2/3 of the dough, the other with a third. Pat out into discs and wrap in clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3) Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

4) Mix together the brown sugar, brandy and cinnamon and salt.

5) Peel and core the apples and slice into pieces about 3 mm thick. Place the apples in the bowl on top of the brown sugar/brandy and cinnamon. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and dust over the corn flour/cornstarch.

6) Add the pecans into the apple mix and fold all together, so the apples and nuts are well coated in the sugar and spice.

7 ) Grease your pie dish. Dust your work space with a little flour then roll out the larger disc of pastry to form a 26 cm circle, turning your pastry by 90 degrees every few rolls, to prevent it sticking. Use your rolling pin to roll up the pastry and transfer into the pie dish, gently working it down and up the sides. There should be a couple of cm of over hang.

8 ) Roll the second piece of pastry out into a circle and cut it into stripes, about 1.5 cm wide.  Glaze the stripes with the egg wash now (it will be easier than trying to paint the lattice).

9) Lay the pastry over in a lattice, one over and one under. It’s easiest if you do half the pie at one time. There are excellent descriptions on how to create the lattice effect here  and some step by step images here.

10 ) Trim the overhang of the pie so it is a neat edge just below the lip of the pie dish. Then fold it back up towards the lattice stripes and pinch using your thumb and forefinger to seal the edge and create a nice peaked effect on the edge.

11) Bake the pie for 50 minutes – 1 hour. Serve hot, warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.