[My blog has been down since spring, so forgive me for these late posts!]
THIS FALL AND winter, I took it upon myself to perfect my gluten-free pie crust and my gluten-free apple pie recipes. I had several reasons I chose to work on my apple pie. Mainly, I like apple pie and was looking forward to eating a lot of it over the holidays, but I was also trying to save money on groceries, and apple pies are relatively cheap to make. I also needed a pie that required a double crust, to better test it.
Ben, enough talk, just show me the recipe already! CLICK HERE
The Pie Crust
I’ve struggled with tenderness and texture with gluten-free pie crust recipes in the past—most were either too crumbly or were too wet and would sag in the pan. I solved these problems by employing tricks from three sources: Alton Brown, America’s Test Kitchen, and my grandma, may she rest in peace.
I started from my grandma’s kitchen, with the pie crust she taught me. My grandma always worked with a really wet dough, so when I tried to convert her recipe to a gluten free version everything would sag in the pan and be a mess. Alton Brown provided one solution: using apple brandy in place of some of the water.
Alton Brown’s Apple Pie Recipe: Click HERE
My other problem with my grandma’s recipe was that she liked to use half shortening and half butter, but when I’d use these in my pie crust my crust would be too crumbly and would have no flavor. So I opened my How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. They use only butter and add a little sour cream, so I adjusted my recipe to have butter and yogurt.
America’s Test Kitchen Gluten Free Pie Crust Recipe: Click HERE
This produced the tender and flaky crust I wanted, and it was also sturdy enough to roll out and not fall apart.
The Apple Never Falls Far from the Tree
Now for the pie filling! When I was a child, my father and I loved Pepperidge Farms Apple Turnovers. My mom didn’t like them, this was before my brother was old enough to enjoy solid food, and before my sister was born, so it was something my dad and I shared, just the two of us. Something unique Pepperidge Farms does with their apple turnovers is they add a few golden raisins. Not a lot, just a few, so few that sometimes you get unlucky and don’t even get one in your turnover.
To this day, when I eat apple pie anything, I yearn for those few plump raisins of nostalgia. Therefore, my apple pie recipe has raisins in it. I understand raisins are a super polarizing ingredient—I think many of us probably had too many packs of Sun-Maid Raisins in our lunch boxes growing up—so feel free to omit them.
I was excited about incorporating raisins into my recipe, but I think I was too excited. In my first attempt, I added so many raisins it was basically raisin pie… and I over cooked it.
My next attempt I cut the apples the right size, so they’d held up better during baking, but I had a really hard time with the dough, so I adjusted a few things, namely I added more booze to make it more malleable. I chickened out on the raisins this time, but for my last attempt I added them back in.
A note on pie birds: pie birds help circulate hot air away from the crust, so the bottom will brown properly. I’ve found Granny Smith are usually dry enough so I don’t have to use a pie bird. A good way to check to see if you may need one is to test the wetness of the apples. When you add sugar to the apples, give them a bit of time to sit. If your apples release a lot of juice, you can use a pie bird to prevent a soggy crust.
In my final attempt, I didn’t sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top. I think the dough is tasty enough as it is, with a bit of vanilla added, but feel free to do as you will. I also didn’t have any apple brandy, because I was at someone else’s house, but I had brought some ‘apple pie’ moonshine with me and boy was that amazing. This crust recipe is super forgiving on what type of booze you use, so have fun with it in this pie and others.
Ben’s Gluten Free Apple Pie
Time: 45 min prep, 2 hours refrigeration, 1 hour baking, & 2 hours cooling
2 1/2 C gluten free flour (I used King Author GF Blend)
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 t xanthan gum
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (if salted, reduce salt), chill and cut into 1/4 tablespoon pieces.
1 T vinegar (rice, white, or apple cider)
3 T yogurt
1 t vanilla
5 T apple brandy, or something similar
3 T ice water
3-5 lbs of apples, preferably Granny Smith
1/4 C sugar
1 T gluten free flour
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 C raisins
1 egg, beaten
For the crust, I find it easiest to use a food processor, but about half the time I end up using a pastry blender or a fork because I’m in someone else’s kitchen, so use what you have.
Process the flour, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum until well blended. Add the butter, chunk at a time, processing until the butter is no bigger than pea-sized bits. Add the vinegar, yogurt, and vanilla just until incorporated. Add the liquor and pulse until it’s starting to come together. Lastly, add the water.
Turn it onto a smooth flat surface and knead until you can form one ball. Cut that ball in half and form two disks. Wrap each disk in aluminum foil, storing in the fridge for two hours or so. If you cool it overnight, take it out and let it rest before you try rolling it.
When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the filling by peeling apples and cutting them into 1/4 inch thick slices into a medium bowl. I like to pick a bowl I can set inside the pie dish, so I can keep an eye on the amount as I’m slicing them. The apples should be mounded as high as you can in the middle.
Mix in the sugar, flour, salt, and spices. Add the lemon juice and zest, and then stir in the raisins.
Roll out the pie disks. I like to use two silicon baking sheets to sandwich the dough between, to help keep it together. Lay one rolled-out disk into the pie dish, pour the filling on top, and lay the other rolled-out dough on top. Crimp the edges of the pie together and cut a slit in the top . If you’re using a pie bird, mound the apples around the bird and cut a hole in the top crust so the bird’s head pokes through.
For the decoration, whisk up the egg and brush it over the top of the pie.
Bake for 1 hour; cool for at least a half hour, but two hours is best. It should still be warm. Enjoy!
To boldly bake,