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Singapore Cooks

Rum kick for pie

Home baker Preston Lim adds rum to his apple crumble pie for a spicy and comforting taste

Full-time national serviceman Preston Lim, 20, has his parents to thank for keeping his desserts fruity and boozy.

Fruit and alcohol feature in many of his creations, which range from cakes and pies to tarts and popsicles.

His parents, both 41, own a fruit distribution company, so the home fridge is well-stocked with up to seven types of fruit at any one time.

The usual line-up includes avocados, berries, cherries, pears and pineapples. Exotic fruit such as red kiwis, custard apples and soursop appear seasonally.

Mr Lim also makes good use of his family's alcohol collection, which comprises Baileys Irish Cream liqueur, rum and Scotch whisky, and adds the tipples into his confections.

  • MAKE-IT-YOURSELF: RUM-INFUSED APPLE CRUMBLE PIE

  • INGREDIENTS

    For shortcrust pastry

    125g cold butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes

    250g plain flour

    50g caster sugar

    30g icing sugar

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    1 tsp vanilla extract

  • For apple filling

    2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced to about 1.5cm thick

    2 Gala apples, peeled and sliced to about 1.5cm thick

    40ml lemon juice

    Zest of 1 lemon

    65g brown sugar

    15g unsalted butter, melted

    30g plain flour

    1/2 tsp five-spice powder

    1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

    tsp ground ginger

    11/2 tsp cinnamon powder

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    60ml rum

    For streusel topping

    60g unsalted butter, melted

    100g caster sugar

    75g plain flour

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    50g pecans, chopped

    Icing sugar and whole pecans for garnish

    METHOD

    1. Make the shortcrust pastry: In a mixing bowl, rub cubes of cold butter with flour until the mixture becomes crumb-like.

    2. Add caster and icing sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Mix and roll the batter gently until it becomes a ball of soft dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for an hour.

    3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.3 to 0.5cm.

    4. Lay the dough over a 24cm pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pan and trim off excess dough with a knife. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  • 5. Make the apple filling: Place sliced apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, brown sugar, melted butter, plain flour, five-spice powder, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon powder, vanilla essence and rum into a large mixing bowl (above). Mix thoroughly with a spatula. Set aside for 15 minutes.

    6. Preheat oven to 190 deg C.

    7. Make the streusel: In a clean mixing bowl, add melted butter, caster sugar, plain flour and cinnamon powder. Rub the mixture until it has a crumbly texture. Add chopped pecans and mix well.

    8. To assemble the pie, gently spread the apple filling evenly across the chilled shortcrust pastry. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.

    9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

    10. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it cool for at least three hours. Sprinkle icing sugar and pecans on top before serving.

    Serves eight to 10

He says: "I love the mild, bittersweet aftertaste that alcohol leaves in the mouth and they make my bakes different from those in cafes and bakeries."

Among the treats he makes are Chocolate Baileys mud cake, whisky-infused chocolate tart with pistachios and pineapple upside- down cake soaked in rum.

For Christmas, he invites friends to his home to "share the calories" by baking Baileys-flavoured brownies and rum-infused apple crumble pie.

"I don't like to follow the norm of buying log cakes for the festive season. They're expensive and too sweet," he says. "It is more sincere and satisfying to bake your own cakes."

He reduces the sugar in the spiced apple filling for the apple crumble pie by one-third and most of the sweetness comes from two types of apples: Granny Smith and Gala.

To inject some kick into the pie, he tosses the filling with rum. He says: "It adds a comforting, spicy and warm sensation that lingers in the mouth and gives more depth to flavour of the pie."

Mr Lim started baking two years ago, after his A-level examinations, and his parents finally trusted him enough to let him use the oven.

He gets inspiration from watching cooking shows on television such as MasterChef and Great British Bake Off, and online baking videos on YouTube channels such as Sorted Food.

He says: "I love learning about ingredients, techniques and new ideas in food, and it is therapeutic to discover more about myself through baking."

Through the process, he has found an aptitude for creating desserts with zany flavours. These include smoked salmon eclairs and squid ink cupcakes stuffed with poached egg yolks.

Mr Lim, who is single, enjoys a free-spirited approach to baking and does not see a need to attend baking courses to hone his skills.

The second of three sons says: "Baking is a hobby - it should be fun and free, so that I can go with my gut feel to create unusual flavours."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'MAKE-IT-YOURSELF: RUM-INFUSED APPLE CRUMBLE PIE Rum kick for pie Singapore Cooks'. Print Edition | Subscribe