I've done meals 'on a stick' where every course including drinks was on a some kind of skewer. I've cooked a themed supper called 'It's a wrap' where every course was wrapped in something, vine leaves, paper, rice paper. Next Year, I will do a supper club called 'Bagged up' or ' The Sack Race' or something equally hilarious where every course will be in a bag of some sort.
The technical term for this in posh cookery is 'en papillote', French for cooking wrapped-up -food-butterfly-style, often used for fish wrapped in paper or foil. Cooking in a bag in the oven is a fail-safe way of baking fish, for the wrapper protects it from drying out. You can add herbs or slices of citrus, or coconut cream, ginger and chillies to the fish and the wrapping will intensify the juices. I've also made spaghetti in a bag known as al cartoccio, which again steams the pasta and retains the flavours.
For this Thanksgiving, not something we British celebrate, but an enjoyable family holiday with some great classic dishes nonetheless, I've created a dessert in a bag. The paper bag protects the pie from burning on top: the result was flaky pastry, cidery apples with just the right hint of sour, and a crumbly sweet topping. Serve with whipped cream.
Use any strong brown paper bag. I re-used a Riverford Organics one!
Serves: 6 to 8
A 25 cm/10 inch enamel bowl or pie dish
1 paper bag, large enough to fit the pie dish in
200g plain flour
2-3 tsp of water
1. 5 kilos of apples, peeled, cored and quartered
100g soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of sea salt
100g of soft light brown sugar
100g of plain flour
100g of unsalted butter
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Make the pastry by combining the ingredients until they form a not too sticky clump. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for half an hour. Then, on a work surface sprinkled with icing sugar, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 5mm, using your pie dish as a template. Cut it out 3 or 4 centimetres wider than the dish. Prepare your pie dish by greasing it with butter then lay the pastry over the pie dish, pressing the pastry into the sides. Trim around the top.
Preheat your oven to 190ºc
Prepare the apples then combine in a bowl with the sugar, flour and spices. Add the apple mixture to the pastry lined pie dish and squeeze over the lemon juice.
Mix the ingredients of the topping together by rubbing the butter sugar and flour together until it ressembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Add more cinnamon if you wish.
Bake in the bag for 30 minutes.