Spicy Apple & Pistage Pie

At our last visit at my sister in-law we received a big bag with delicious apples. So the other evening I adjusted a recipe I found and made my very own creation: Thomas spicy apple and pistage pie! It does not get much better than this… :-)

As the pie did it’s thing in the oven, I set up my portable studio to test some food photography. So in todays post you will get two recipes: one for making the pie and one for lighting the photo.

Spicy apple & pistage pie with vanilla icecream

Yummy apple pie with vanilla icecream

Recipe, Thomas spicy apple & pistage pie

This will give you a delicious pie with much tast. The roughly chopped pistage nuts in the dough will give you a nice crunchy feeling

Ingredients, 4-6 servings

4 apples
50 ml (1/4 cup) sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
5 ml (1 tsp) ground ginger
1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground nutmeg

Pie crust:
150 g (5 1/4 oz) cold butter
100 ml (1/2 cup) pistage nuts (not salted)
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) wheat flour
50 ml (1/4 cup) sugar


Heat the oven to 225° C (435° F). Slice the butter in a bowl and chopp the pistage nuts coursly. Add these and the additional crust ingredients to the bowl and blend it roughly by hand.

Remove the seed housing and slice the apples in thin slices, no need to peel them. Mix the apple slices with the the sugar and spices and spread the mix into a 25 cm (9-10 inch) buttered pie plate. Spread out the crumbled crust on top.

Bake in the middle of the (preheated) oven for 20 -25 min. Let it cool a little and serve with cold vanilla ice cream or custard souce.

Lighting recipe

I wanted to take an image of my delicious pie and simulate a soft window light. Problem is that this was in the evening and I feared there would be no pie left to the next day… The top image is lit with two lights (Canon 580EX II), three if you count the faint light from the table light (see below). The main light is placed behind the subject, tilted down at about 45 degrees, facing the camera. The fill light is placed at camera right. On the main light I’ve used a 36″ Lastolite Hotrod Octa Softbox. It’s placed just above the image top, only 30-40 cm (1 ft) from the plate. This to maximize the size of the light source to give a nice soft light. Just the kind of light you would get from a window with no direct sunlight. On the filllight, used to bring up the shadows, I used a 40″ Lastolite Umbrella Box. See the image below right for the lighting setup.

I used Pocketwizard to trigger the flashes. A MiniTT1 on the camara as transmitter and a FlexTT5 on each flash as receiver. To control the flash exposure I use the AC 3 ZoneController. Super easy to control and set the flash ratios. And with full ETTL!

Started out with setting the base exposure to take away most of the ambient light. There is a tungsten light hanging just above the table and I set the exposure to keep little of it’s warm light in the image. An alternative would be to use CTO filters on the flashes. Exposure in the camera was sset to f/2, 1/30 s and ISO 100 which gave the basic exposure without flashes as in the image below left.

After that it was time to get the slightly cooled pie, spoon up some ice cream and turn on the flashes. Exposure was done using full ETTL and the ratio between the main and fill light was controlled by the AC3. Main light was set to 0 EV and the fill was dialed down to -1 2/3 EV.

Camera equipment: Canon 5D Mark II and Zeiss 100 mm f/2 Makro Planar.

Ambient light and lighting setup

Ambient light and lighting setup

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