Friday, October 12, 2012

Trying my hand at Pie

I almost made a pie once.  But then I didn't.  I turned it into a maple oat crumble and ate it on the day before labour day while watching In the Name of the Father and lamenting about school beginning again. Bummer.

This summer I tried making a pie again. What, you don't believe me?  Here's the proof.

This was a strawberry, rhubarb crumble pie. The filling was delicious, but that's never the hard part. The hard part is always the crust, which I always want to make vegan. In this particular case, the edges of the crust were perfect, but that bottom fell apart, turned soggy and in some spots, didn't even cook properly.

So I tried again this long weekend, on the dreary Sunday that got a little wet and chilly later on in the day, when making pie seemed like the perfect excuse to not to work that I brought home with me. I was totally inspired by the lovely vegan baking goddess over at have cake will travel. Her plum and almond tarts looked so delicious, but I wanted something with apples. While browsing foodgawker, I stumbled upon this dutch apple pie over at Beyond Sweet and Savory. The almond press-in crust totally sold me. It was decided from there.  Apple pie it was.

I made mine with a almond spelt crust, using canola oil and almond milk to bind it instead of butter, and a nice spelt flake crumble on top. To keep the crust from turning soggy, I stuck it in the freezer for a bit, and then pre-baked it for 20 minutes before adding the apples and crumble topping. That totally did the trick. No soggy, uncooked pie bottom. The crust held together nicely and was crispy and flavourful from the ground almonds. If you're expecting a buttery, flaky crust, this isn't the place to look, but it was still delicious enough to merit a mound of cinnamony lemon-kissed apples being piled on top.

A note about the apples: the original recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar! If you like your pie super super sweet, go for it, but I put in about 1/4 cup and found it plenty sweet. But then, I had just found perfect Jonagold apples at the market that didn't need much help in the sweet department.

This has been the most successful vegan pie-making experiment to date. Do you think I could pull of vegan pumpkin pie, with a vegan pumpkin custard filling?  Whoa... that's a tricky one.  Stay tuned!

Vegan Apple Crumble Pie with Spelt Almond Crust
inspired by have cake will travel, and Beyond Sweet and Savory

For the Crust:
1 cup of spelt flour
1 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of natural cane sugar
1/4 cup of canola oil
3-4 tablespoons of almond milk, as needed

For the Filling:
3 large to medium apples (I used one Matsu and 2 Jonagolds)
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
juice of half a lemon

For the Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup of spelt flakes
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of canola oil

1. Make the pie crust. Blend the flour, sugar, and almond meal together. Add the canola oil and stir gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Slowly, a little at a time, at the almond milk, stirring between additions, until the dough stays together when pinched. You can do this in a food processor too, and pulse until you get the right texture.

2. Bring the dough together with your hands, just enough so that it chunks off, and then press it into the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate, making sure that you're going up the sides evenly.  There's a perfect pie crust. No rolling!  Woo hoo!  Place your pie crust in a freezer for about 15 minutes.

3. Make your filling. Peel and core your apples and slice them thinly (the original recipe suggest 1/4 inch thick .. I'm not sure how thick mine were..). Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Toss with together and set aside.

4. Your pie crust is ready for the oven now! Bake it for about 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until it just starts to firm up and get some colour.

5. In the meantime, make your crumble topping. Place the spelt flour and flakes in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, lemon juice and canola oil and mix to form a crumble.

6. Take the pie crust out of the oven. Pile your apples on top and sprinkle over the crumble. Throw it all back in the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until the apple juices start bubbling up, and the crumble topping is a deep golden brown.

7. Yay!  Vegan apple pie!

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