Apple & Lemon Pie

June 14th, 2024


I am a big fan of heritage apples. Growing up in Nelson, apples were a common theme of my childhood. Unfortunately, many orchards have since been removed to make way for housing developments and vineyards, but during the 80s and 90s (and earlier), apple growing was a big part of our local economy. 

One of my first summer jobs was working in an apple orchard thinning apples. Paid by tree rather than the hour it was a gruelling job, up and down apple trees on a wobbly three-legged ladder. But if you had swift fingers you could make around $12 an hour, a little above the minimum wage at the time. When you are young and nimble and earning your first paycheck this is pretty exciting.

The apples from the surrounding orchards in the Tasman area were destined for export. Shiny and brightly coloured, crisp and juicy for eating, but not always so good for cooking. In the last decade or so I have come to appreciate the older apple varieties that come in an array of muted colours, different shapes and sizes, and with a complexity of flavour. Even including some with rough skins, these are the russets (pictured below), knobbly-looking apples that would be rejected on the supermarket shelf, but for those in the know, they are one of the most flavoursome apples you can find. 

Some of my favourite heritage apples include Sturmer-pippin, Merton Russet, Boskoop and Peasgood Nonsuch (to name a few). In Nelson, I source my apples from Jeremy at Okainamu Organics and Rozmeri at Little Shaggery Farm. Keep an eye out at your local markets, some of the older varieties store well so you may still find them at this time of year. For the tasty apple pie recipe that follows you can also use store-bought apples such as Braeburn or Granny Smith. I always lean towards tarter apples for cooking. 

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Apple & Lemon Pie

This apple pie is a great way to use up any apples lurking in the fruit bowl beyond eating fresh. It is also easily transportable to take to a shared dinner or potluck. It is best made with heritage apples or tart cooking apples such as Braeburn or Granny Smith. The recipe may look a little complex, but it is simple to make, the pastry resting time being the longest component. The pastry can be made ahead of time and chilled until needed. Or at a pinch, store-bought pastry could be used - look for pastry made with real butter. I often double the recipe when making pastry and freeze half for a quick pie another day. 
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting time 45 minutes



  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 100 g cold butter, cut into 5 mm cubes
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp iced water

Apple & Lemon Filling:

  • cup (70g) sugar
  • 50 g melted butter
  • zest and juice of 1 medium lemon (about 3 tbsp juice total)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2-3 apples (about 400g), peeled and grated


  • In a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar to combine. Add the butter and pulse 6-8 times to combine. While pulsing the engine, add the vinegar and enough iced water until the mixture holds together when pressed.
  • The pastry can also be made by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour (don’t overdo this, some bigger chunks of butter are okay). Mix in the vinegar and water using a butter knife until the dough comes together.
  • Either way, tip the pastry onto the bench and quickly shape it into a flat disk. Place into a covered container and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes to rest the pastry for easier rolling. Or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C (fan 170C). Grease a 25 cm pie dish.
  • On a lightly floured bench roll the pastry out into a round to fit the dish. Carefully press into the dish and trim the edges - you can be a little rustic with the pastry edge. Pierce the pastry a few times with a fork and chill again for 15-20 minutes (resting the pastry once rolled helps to prevent shrinkage).
  • Make the filling. In the mixing bowl combine the sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice, eggs and flour. Whisk to combine. Add the grated apple and mix together.
  • Pour the filling into the chilled pastry and bake for 30-35 minutes until set and golden.
  • Serve wedges of pie warm or cold with yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.

Join the Conversation

  1. I was intrigued by this pie as soon as I read the recipe and made it this weekend. We loved it. The combination of the tart apple and lemon made such a change from very sweet pie fillings. Definitely one to make again. I just need to perfect getting the pastry bottom cooked properly and it would be perfect. No one likes a soggy bottom!

    1. Hi Sue, great to hear you made the pie and enjoyed it. If the pastry isn’t fully cooking on the base it may be the way your oven heats – mostly from the top rather than both top and bottom evenly. In domestic ovens this isn’t unusual. You can try using fan bake if you have that option, adjusting the heat as per recipe instructions. And/or if you have a pizza stone you can place it onto the oven shelf you will cook the pie on and preheat it when turning on the oven. This will supply a direct heat from the bottom to cook the base, just make sure the stone is nice and hot before putting in the pie. Of-course you could also blind bake the pastry base before adding the filling by covering with baking paper and using ceramic pastry weights or dried beans. If I can skip this option I tend to as it adds extra time and it is best practice to chill the pastry again once it is in the dish to prevent shrinkage. All adding time so I tend to opt for a higher oven temp and use the tips above if needed. Hope that helps. Happy cooking, Nicola 🙂

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