Nana's Apple Pie On A Plate {100th Birthday Tribute}

This recipe is for my nana’s famous ‘apple pie on a plate’ in honour of what would have been her 100th birthday if she were still alive today. She died just shy of 2 years ago - a few days after she turned 98! She used to bake this thin apple pie, on a dinner plate, when she came to visit us when I was little. The table cloth in the photo belonged to her.

My nana was quite a baker back in her day. Her pastry was ace - she was so light fingered and she made it with ease. She liked the pastry really thin and she didn’t like a very deep crust on the pie so the apple would be quite near the edge. The apple was also stewed before it went in the pie as well.

She would drape the second layer of pastry over and seal it with her thumb before holding the plate high in her palm and trimming the excess using a sharp knife around the edge of the plate in long strokes. Two slits in the top of the pie with the same knife followed by a brush of milk and the apple pie was oven ready.

This apple pie is quite basic and old school in terms of ingredients but it’s exactly the way my nana did it and I wanted to preserve her recipe rather than my take on it! I had to restrain myself from adding cinnamon to the apple, orange zest to the pastry, brushing the top with egg, sprinkling it with demerara sugar and all sorts! I’ve racked my brains and quizzed my mum and I believe this recipe as true to hers as it can be. It tastes almost as good as hers did - soft thin pastry with a squishy layer of apple.

Nana was very thrifty with ingredients - she wouldn’t have cracked an egg just to seal and wash the pastry, she used milk instead. Leftover pastry wasn’t wasted either - it was made into a jam tart with a lattice top, which was my my job when I was little. I can see why she would give me the scraps of pastry to play with now - so I didn’t overwork the pastry for her apple pie!

Apple pie on a plate is around the same depth and shape as a deep crust pizza and when it’s cold you can eat a slice in the same way. It tastes great cold on it’s own or warmed up with a little ice cream. The flavours are so simple - it’s all about the sweet apple and that soft, short pastry. Nothing fancy, nothing extra, just apple pie on a plate the way my nana used to bake it.

Nana's Apple Pie On A Plate

  • Serves: 6

  • Prep time: 30 minutes

  • Baking time: 30 - 35 minutes


For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for sprinkling

  • 125g chilled baking margarine, cubed (my nana used stork), plus extra for greasing

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

  • 2-3 tbsp milk for sealing and washing

For the apple filling:

  • 4 Bramley apples

  • 85g granulated sugar

  • 2 tbsp water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 C / 170 fan / gas mark 5.

  2. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and add enough cold water to make a smooth ball of dough, stirring with a blunt knife as you go. Do not overwork the pastry - my nana was very hot on this, and handled the pastry as little as possible. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge while you prep your apples.

  3. Peel, core and dice the apples and put them in a saucepan along with the water and sugar over a medium heat. Cook for around 10-15 minutes until the apple has softened. Now turn up the heat and cook for a further 2-3 minutes stirring lots with a wooden spoon until all of the liquid in the pan has evaporated. You should be left with a lumpy, thick apple mush that has caramelised slightly. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan.

  4. Take a medium sized dinner plate (mine was 25 cm but I don’t recall my nana ever being that particular about sizes!) and use a little margarine to grease it all over. Sprinkle the greased plate liberally with flour and tip it around to ensure the plate has a very even coating of flour before shaking any excess onto a clean worktop ready for rolling. My nana always greased her tins like this when she baked.

  5. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Unwrap and divide into two. On the floured surface, roll out one half of the pastry as thin as you can without it tearing. Do not over work the pastry or be rough with it, roll it lightly. Drape the rolled out pastry over your rolling pin and then over the prepared plate, ensuring the inside of the plate is fully covered and the pastry is not stretched. With your hand, lightly press around the edge of the plate so you can see the outline of the rim of the plate through the pastry.

  6. Spoon the apple filling onto the pastry-lined plate. Using the back of the spoon, push the apple filling almost up to the edge of a plate leaving a 1cm gap around the edge. The apple mixture may still be hot so be careful. Brush the 1cm pie edge with a little milk.

  7. Sprinkle some more flour on your work surface again and roll out the second half of the pastry as thin as you can again without it tearing it. Drape the rolled out pastry over your rolling pin and then carefully unroll it over the top of the apple mixture.

  8. Use your hand to gently press down where the edge of the plate is, and then use your fingers to press the edges of the pie to seal the two layers of pastry together. Press firmly all the way around the pie.

  9. Now lift up the plate holding underneath with the palm of your hand take a sharp knife in the other hand. Use the knife to trim the excess pastry away from the pie in downwards strokes using the edge of the plate as a guide. You may need to stop and twist the plate as you go. Gather up the scraps to make a jam tart if you like (see below) or freeze for another day.

  10. Use a fork to crimp the edge of the pie all the way around to seal it completely. (My nana just used her thumb for this step but I’m too chicken it will leak, so I use the fork.)

  11. Use a sharp to make two slits in the top of the pie - this is important to let out steam. My nana always made two slits for some reason, so I do the same.

  12. Brush the top of the pie all over with milk and bake for around 30-35 minutes until golden.

  13. Leave to cool on the plate and cut into slices. Tastes great on it’s own cold, or warm with vanilla ice cream.

To make a jam tart from leftover pastry: Gather up the pastry scraps and form into a ball. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface and use a side plate as a template to make a circle. Pop the pastry circle on a greased baking tray (see step 4 above) and spread a thin layer of jam over it leaving a small border. Use the trimmed pastry to make strips and make a lattice over the jam. Brush the edge with milk and turn it over and squish it down with a finger or fork to seal. Pop in the oven at the same time as your pie. Bake until bubbling.

Jam Tart with leftover pastry.jpg
Happy 100th Birthday Nana.jpg