I can't think of anything better than a steaming, sweet, crumbly apple pie after Sunday lunch on a cold afternoon. So that's why when I was in Tesco's last week and knew I would be cooking today for the family I picked one up, and who better to turn to than old Aunt Bessie for a classic dessert that the whole family favour?
~ Aunt Bessie's~
Aunt Bessie's were the first producers of the frozen Yorkshire pudding in 1974. Aunt Bessie's is now part of the limited Jackson food group and now produce more than 20 million Yorkshires a week, as well as its other delicious accompaniments, meals and desserts.
Aunt Bessie's produce a huge variety of frozen foods such as Yorkshire puddings, potatoes, vegetables, great British puddings, ready-meals, stuffing and dumplings. They also make store cupboard essentials such as gravy, custard, pastry mixes, rice pudding mixes and baking mixes.
~ Product and availability ~
Aunt Bessie's apple pie is available to buy in all major supermarkets down the frozen food isle. It's available in one main size of 605g for around £1.49, however according to mysupermarket.com Asda stock it in a smaller size of 375g as well as the larger one for just £1.00. I think £1.49 is pretty reasonable for a dessert these days, for a decent dessert you can pay above £3.00 so £1.49 for a good sized pie that happily serves four isn't bad at all. I wish the smaller one was available more widely though as its perfect for two and sometimes it's just me and my husband for tea and it would finish it off perfectly!
~ Packaging ~
Aunt Bessie's apple pie comes in a dark blue cardboard box. On the front of the box is a large picture of the apple pie itself, cut open to reveal the juicy apple filling. Below this is the name of the product and the words 'family size'. Above the pie is the aunt Bessie's logo. On the back of the box you will find a full nutritional information table, cooking instructions and ingredients list, as well as the product description which says; I've selected only the ripest, juiciest bramley apples to make my apple pie filling, which I then encase in a delicious short crust pastry. It's quickly frozen for freshness and now it's over to you. Simply glaze, bake and wait for the delicious aromas and taste the scrumptious results.
~ Cooking ~
Aunt Bessie's apple pie is best cooked from frozen for best results, it takes roughly 60 minutes at 180 degrees. It's suggested that you glaze it with egg and/or milk and sprinkle with sugar, however I didn't do this. It does take quite a long time to cook and I found that even after the 60 minutes the centre of the pie's pastry wasn't cooked but the edges were close to burning, which was a bit annoying. The smell coming from the baking pie was divine, very homely and sweet.
~ Appearance, taste & texture ~
Bringing the pie out of the oven you are greeted with a golden pie with two cuts in the centre to cook the filling. The edges of the pie are considerably browner than the centre but that's because I had to cook it for longer. Taking a spoonful of the pie I was delighted to find good chunky bits of apple with a bit of bite, there's nothing worse than just a pile of mush. The apples had the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness and were topped off nicely with a crumbly, buttery crust. The pastry was gorgeous and melted in my mouth. Surrounding the apples was a tart apple 'sauce' to keep everything nice and moist. There was plenty of filling which makes a nice change as most desserts these days are only half filled, the pastry was also of the right amount, just enough to break into the tartness of the apples without totally over-taking it.
~ Other information ~
Aunt Bessie's apple pie Contains nothing artificial.
¼ of Aunt Bessie's apple pie costs you 388 calories, 27g of sugar, 15.3g of fat, 5.4g of saturates and 0.4g of salt. So, it's pretty high in everything bad for you, but what can you expect from a dessert? It does put me off slightly that there is 30% of your GDA sugar intake and 22 % of your GDA fat though.
There is quite a lot of ingredients listed but they don't actually look too scary compared to some food labels, the first five listed are Bramley apple (32%), wheat flour, sugar, margarine and salt. The margarine is not hydrogenated.
~ Over all opinion ~
I really enjoyed this Aunt Bessie's product and I think you can generally rely on her for a good, tasty traditional English pud! The only thing that let it down for me was the awkward cooking, I had to faff around with kitchen foil to stop it from burning because the centre pastry took so long to cook! I would certainly recommend this to anybody who enjoys a good old traditional English apple pie; you can't really get much better than this, especially if you like good chunky apples. It serves four very nicely and isn't too filling that you feel totally stuffed after it (unless you already ate loads before hand of course). I think you could stretch it to serve five or six; it just depends on your appetites as it is a fair size. I would recommend putting it in the oven quite a bit before you want it though so you don't keep your guests waiting!
I'm going to give this Aunt Bessie's apple pie 4/5 stars, I have to knock one star off for the only reason being the awkward cooking, it was a pain but tasted fabulous!
From time to time I crave sweet things and tonight was one of them times so I nipped to my local Tesco Express store and picked one of these up for £1.52 knowing I had some tins of custard in already and got this to share with my best mate with a cuppa while watching dvds lol.
The pie came in a dark blue blue box and on the front of it we are told that it is Aunt Bessie's Scrumptious Bramley Apple Pie 'Family Size' and that it is 605g in weight and there is a picture drawn on of a lady with a mixing bowl who I guess is Aunt Bessie! On the back of the box other information listed includes being told a bit about the pie, the ingredients and allergy advice is give along with cooking instructions, there is an at a glance nutritional chart shown along with a full one and contact details for the manufacturer are listed. Nice enough informative packaging this is and it looks nice quality too.
The Pie Itself:
The pies are made from shortcrust pastry and filled with Bramley apples (31% of apples to be precise) and to cook this you simply pop it in the oven on a baking tray in the foil tray it comes in and glaze it with egg or milk and sprinkle it with sugar (substitute or none at all is fine to its your choice of course) and it goes a nice golden brown in 50-55 minutes.
The pie is rather large and bigger than I expected too and easily gives four generous portions though I ate half as did my mate (greedy or what lol!?).
The pastry is crispy in part and slightly flaky on the outside and nice and thick with it on the inside being a lot softer as that is where the filling is encased. The pie has a top and a bottom so leave it to cool and then you can slice it nicely though if you want it warm it does tend to fall apart and become rather messy looking.
The pastry doesn't taste all that much though. Its not sweet or buttery or anything and the main of the flavour of this comes from the somewhat slushy apple pie filling which is nicely sweet in a natural way with a hint of sharpness and its actually really plentiful and tasty.
I actually rather liked this pie and found it to be of good quality if not a little plain in flavour though I did pep it up with plenty of hot custard and I really did enjoy it! This is what it is and thats a simple apple pie, not quite as good as a home made apple pie but pleasant and tasty enough!
Nutritional Information Per 1/4 Portion:
Available in all good supermarkets etc.
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
Aunt Bessie's Bramley Apple Pie has become our favourite "shop" apple pie recently. After many disappointments with chilled apple pies from the local Coop I had almost given up until I saw the Aunt Bessie's in the freezer on clearance at half price. Very tempting since that made it about a third of the price I was used to paying.
An obvious advantage of buying frozen is that you can safely stock up. In a three star freezer these pies will last at least a month in perfect condition. For some reason, frozen food has become associated with lower quality food in the popular imagination. I think this pie calls that assumption into question, to say the least.
Preparation is relatively simple, 50-55 minutes on a baking tray in the centre of the oven at 160°, but you do have an opportunity to influence the final result. Before placing in the oven you are advised to brush the top of the pie - which is a plain pastry - with milk or beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. This does make quite a difference as the result is a lovely golden pastry crust with a correctly judged sweetness. I prefer my apple pie on the tart side and I find I can achieve this with just a light dusting of sugar. Sweeter teeth than mine should be able get the sweetness they crave with a more liberal helping of sugar. The Coop (chilled) pies had generally disappointed by being too sweet with an indifferent pastry.
Below and within the pastry lies the apple filling of course. This is a "full" pie with pastry base, sides and top yet the apple filling is generous too. In appearance it is a little unnatural as all the pieces are approximately the same size and cubic shape; if you made a pie yourself with fresh apple the result would be different. On the other hand the flavour is good, plenty of apple and not too much sugar, and there is a decent texture: something to bite into. The only thing missing is the cloves but for that you would have to make it yourself. But at the price I paid you wouldn't be able to.
The Aunt Bessie's website (www.auntbessies.co.uk) has detailed nutritional information as well as a fun activity in which you can "Aunt" yourself by uploading a photo into an Aunt Bessie cut-out.
My Mum and I fancied an apple pie for pudding one Sunday lunch, so on a recent shopping trip to Waitrose I paid a visit to the frozen desserts section. Initially, I looked for an own brand version which was out of my price range, so I thought again. Then, I came across an Aunt Bessies's Apple Crumble, but I had one of those (though a different brand) the other week then I came across the Apple Pie.
Aunt Bessie's Bramley Apple Pie cost £1.79 in Waitrose and can be found in the frozen desserts section of all good supermarkets. At the time of writing, Waitrose had this product in a 2 for £3 offer, but I didn't have enough room in the freezer for another pie so I only bought the one.
The packaging doesn't provide any allergy advice, but as it mentions butter and flour on the ingredients list I assume it contains milk and wheat. There is also no mention regarding nuts, so I would advise anyone with allergies or avoiding certain foods to exercise caution.
The product is suitable for vegetarians.
The apple pie comes presented in the characteristic blue box and product photo and imaging which reinforces the homely and traditional family meal images that I associate with the Aunt Bessie's brand. The product doesn't contain any artificial colours, preservatives and flavouring, so I am assured the pie contains good honest ingredients, but maybe not quite what I would use if I baked an apple pie at home, I don't think I have access to Modified Waxy Maize Starch (whatever that is) for example. The net weight of the pie is 550g.
The back gives me some information about the pie, along with the ingredients, cooking instructions and a couple of other products I might like if I've enjoyed this one.
The cardboard box and the foil pie dish are both widely recycled - check with your local waste collector.
The uncooked pie looks really good, and I really like the idea that Aunt Bessie's have left the decision of whether to sprinkle sugar on the top to the person cooking it. I'm not keen on sugar encrusted pastry, so I just brushed the pastry lid with milk before baking. The packaging states that I could also use an egg wash instead, but I feel that method is wasteful as the unused egg has to be thrown away - I don't fancy the idea of bits of pastry floating around in my scrambled eggs or omelette.
~Cooking the pie~
It should be baked in a preheated oven at 180°C (or 350°F) and takes 45-50 minutes assuming I have a conventional oven. The instructions state that I will need to consult the manual if I have a fan oven or mini oven as the temperature and cooking times vary. I used my top oven which cooks food at 10°C lower than the conventional oven temperature, but the cooking time remains the same. I found that my pie took 50 minutes to cook, but I do check at the earlier time to see if it's ready. Halfway through cooking, I'm supposed to turn the foil round to ensure even browning, but I've never bothered doing that and it doesn't seem to affect the overall pie in my opinion, it's a nice shade of golden brown, but I would have achieved a richer colour if I had used an egg wash. While the instructions don't state this, I always let hot fruit based puddings like this stand for at least 10 minutes before serving to avoid anyone from burning their mouths whilst eating.
As I cut into the pie, it is very crumbly which is a sign of a good quality melt in the mouth shortcrust pastry, and yes I made a good old mess of dishing it up. I served mine with a good quality vanilla ice cream which I will review in due course, but you could also serve this plain or with clotted, whipped or squirty cream.
~What did I think?~
I am really impressed with the pastry. In my experience, I have found the pastry on shop bought pies that's been hard, tough and tasted of cardboard. I shouldn't really complain though, my home made version when I am up to making it isn't much better either - it's an insult to pastry if I am totally honest with you. Back to the review, the pastry on the apple pie certainly tasted rich and buttery and melted in the mouth and certainly lived up to the promises on the box.
There's no point in having a pie without a decent filling inside it, and again I am very impressed with the quality of that too. There are whole chunks of apple which adds a lovely texture to this pudding, I have had other brands that have had what I can only describe as apple sauce inside. My pie had a generous amount of filling, so I believe I am getting plenty of apple for my money. Tastewise, I think Aunt Bessie's has got the sweetness of the apple just right so that it is not too sharp or too sweet. I found the pie excellent served hot and cold, if serving it cold I recommend taking the pie out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature before eating it to take the hardness off the pastry. I had mine with ice cream again, but you could also serve it with cream or cold custard if you like.
Based on the nutritional information, this pie will serve four people, but I think it could serve five or six people depending on how big the overall meal is, or size of appetite. As I said earlier, my pie was for pudding after the Sunday Roast, and for me I found quarter of the pie to be a bit too much. Looking at the nutritional data I can see that it is high in fat (15.6g) and sugar (21.6g), which is only to be expected in a product like this and it should be enjoyed as part of a good balanced diet.
I would definitely buy this product again. While there is no way that a shop bought apple pie can ever live up to a home made one (especially the ones my gran used to make, which were in my opinion the best in the world), it is the next best thing that I have come across. Accordingly I award this product a 5 star rating.
Bramley Apple (42%) (Ascorbic Acid) , Wheat Flour , Sugar , Water , Butter , Margarine (Non-Hydrogenated Palm & Rapeseed Oil, Water, Salt) , Maize Flour , Invert Sugar Syrup , Modified Waxy Maize Starch , Salt .
NUTRITIONAL DATA BASED ON ¼ OF THE PIE
Energy 1530kJ 364kcal
(of which sugars 21.6g)
(of which Saturates 7.3g)
(of which Monounsaturates 5.6g)
(of which Polyunsaturates 1.9g)
Also posted on Ciao under the same user name
One of my favourite desserts of all time is also one of the simplest ones. Bramley Apple pie is a pudding that my Grandmother use to make every Sunday for the family and I have always tried to imitate it ever since, but unfortunately with out much success. I saw Aunt Bessie's Bramley Apple Pie in the supermarket one afternoon and thought I would give it a try as a quick and easy pie not requiring me to slave in the kitchen for hours.
The verdict could definitely have been better, but on the other hand, could have been far far worse. The pie is packed full of apples and the pastry is nice and crisp once cooked, however, despite the fruit content, it was a little dry inside.
The Apple pie comes inside an aluminium baking tin ready to be placed into the oven and the pastry has not been previously baked and then frozen so it takes longer to cook than other pre-cooked pies, it takes approximately 45 to 50 minutes in an oven set to 180 degrees.
The price is comparable to other frozen deserts and only costs £1.00 in Tesco which is actually cheaper than Tesco's own branded product. However it is a relatively small size compared to the other ones on the market being 550g where as Tesco's own product is £1.50 for a 704g size.
Overall, this Bramley apple pie is pretty average, but is quite cheap and therefore, for the price worth giving a go in my opinion. Just for the record, it is not a patch on my Grandmothers, but still better than my attempts. I give this product 3 stars out of 5 due to the fact it is a fairly nice dessert and is quite cheap compared to others, but does lack some of the quality that you come to expect from a brand like Aunt Bessies. If you decide to give it a try, I hope you enjoy it.
I buy lots of Aunt Bessie's ready-made products. It is not that I am lazy, or a particularly bad cook, or that I feel the need to save time and "cheat" like Delia - although these are all valid reasons; my reason is based purely on cost. I often find that to make something from scratch, in addition to the main ingredients, many recipes demand a pinch of this or a teaspoon of that and by the time I have finished buying all these ancillary spices and seasonings (many of which never get used again), it is far cheaper to buy the item ready made.
With this in mind I bought an Aunt Bessie's Bramley Apple Pie priced at £1.99 along with a carton of Aunt Bessie's custard.
When removed from the outer box, the frozen pie measures about 9" in diameter and visually appears quite deep compared to some pies. At this uncooked stage, its appearance is quite pale and anaemic looking and not very appetising at all. The instructions say to cook the pie from frozen in the oven for 45-50 minutes. What could be simpler?
After 50 minutes, I inspected the pie and although the outer crust had browned, the centre of the pastry lid remained pale and doughy looking, so I put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. After the extra 10 minutes, the centre had indeed browned to a nice golden colour, but the edges were now quite dark and overcooked and not very appetising at all. The pie did smell nice though, with that unmistakeable home-baked aroma combined with a fresh fruitiness.
When the hot pie was cut, it oozed a pale sticky apple sauce containing a generous volume of discreet apple pieces. However, underneath the fruit filling, the pastry base was still soggy and limp, so when I tried to transfer the portions to serving dishes the pie simply collapsed. Not very aesthetically pleasing, but you can hide a multitude of sins with a generous helping of custard.
Did the pie taste good? Well to put it bluntly I would have to say No.
The pastry case was a bit of a lottery. It was either overcooked (my way of saying burnt) and too hard, or soggy and doughy in texture, neither of which tasted great. In fact the soggy pastry stuck to the roof of my mouth and tasted quite unpleasant.
The fruit filling smelled delicious, so I was very surprised to discover that it actually tasted very sour and eye-wateringly acidic. In fact, my daughter remarked that the pie was so sour it made her cheeks ache! Although the apple sauce component had a pleasant consistency the apple pieces contained in it were quite tough and stringy in texture. I had expected a sweet, tangy apple pie and felt quite disappointed with this offering. In fact if it hadn't been for the custard (which was very nice), I feel that the pie on its own would have been inedible.
To make matters worse, each ¼ portion of the pie contained a whopping 364 calories and 21.6g of sugar, so it's not a particularly healthy dessert anyway. Had it tasted nice I would have justified the high calorie tariff by arguing that the apple component constituted one of my five a day. As it was horrible, I will simply say it is not worth the calories and I will not be buying this product again.
I'm a huge fan of the Aunt Bessie's range in general, especially their yorkshire puddings, potatoes and glazed parsnips. So obviously I expected to really like this Aunt Bessie's Bramley Apple Pie as well. It looks delicious on the box, it's convenient to store as it's a frozen pie, and it only costs £1.95 in Tesco for a pie big enough to serve the whole family comfortably.
My first grumble with this pie was that it took nearly an hour to cook. The packaging recommends you cook it from frozen, and suggests it takes 45-50 minutes to cook. It was more like an hour for us. We put it in as we were serving the dinner, and then all had to wait another twenty minutes after we'd finished our dinner before we could even start serving dessert.
I wasn't too bothered initially though, as I was expecting a really tasty treat. How wrong I was! The first thing that struck me as strange about this was how bitter it was. Apple Pie is supposed to be a sweet dessert, but it tastes like they've chosen the bitterest, driest cooking apples that they could find to make this dessert.
The pasty is very flaky, and didn't cook quite right on the bottom, despite our following the cooking instructions correctly. It was a bit raw still, but at least being a bit raw meant it tasted better than the dry, flaky cooked parts! The apple sauce was the only remotely nice thing about this, but it still wasn't the sweet apple sauce I expect from an Apple Pie.
I really am very disappointed with Aunt Bessie over this pie. It's dry, bitter, flaky and it takes far too long to cook. Surprisingly, it's not even any good for you despite tasting like there's not much sugar in here. In fact 1/4 of the pie contains 21g of sugar, and 15g of fat. For that much fat and sugar I expect my pies to taste good!