My dear friend and co-conspirator, Mr. Jimmy, always bakes a pie when he is under duress.
He calls it his "Stress Pie."
It's always pecan.
And, if I know its creator, it's done in a perfectly neat and orderly fashion.
Every single time.
This morning, for the first time in forever, I awoke to birds singing of Spring.
Yes, my darlings, it is coming.
Since my legendary impatience cannot be contained, I have to go there in my mind. Past Spring even, into luscious late Summer...
Time to daydream…
Was it so long ago?
My man and I were wandering through rolling apple orchards.
The air was cool and the sun was hot,
and I cannot say for certain that a little tryst didn't occur…
Somewhere in the midst of sweet kisses,
a petite, perfect apple revealed itself to us.
An ancient Venusian symbol of love.
The next afternoon, after a sleepy, lazy morning, I entered the kitchen, placed that tiny jewel of an apple upon the kitchen altar, lit a candle, and got DIRTY.
Out came the flours…all of them. And the melted coconut oil.
Piaf and I were singing together while I whisked, rolled, and sliced up a culinary frenzy.
Dough was splattered everywhere, and I was ecstatic.
Hours later, my fella and I were lustily digging our forks in, in the midst of the beautiful mess I had made.
This was no Stress Pie.
This was the most succulent, luscious pie ever to be eaten.
This was the pie of life and love and a beautiful late Summer day.
A day of breathing in every moment.
But I have a confession to make. This was not my first attempt.
My previous attempt at apple pie, in all honesty, resembled an archaeological site.
Gluten-free baking is notoriously difficult to navigate, which is the reason most of it results in something resembling a dirt mound and tasting like a mouthful of beach sand.
Add in the vegan and sugar-free bit, and you're dead in the water before you've even begun.
Embarassing confession: I once had a teeny bit of a breakdown on my kitchen floor after having concocted the world's most revolting blueberry muffins, ever.
As it happens, much research, and many attempts later, I've nailed it.
So, this one is for my dear Mr. Jimmy.
Make this one with joy in your wild heart…
Chai Apple Crumb Pie
- 1 1/2 c. almond meal
- 1 C all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1/2 c. tapioca flour
- 2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 3/4 c. & 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 7 1/2 to 8 Tbsp. ice cold coconut milk
- 6 medium organic apples (I favor a Pink Lady/Honeycrisp combo, but choose what you like.)
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. tapioca flour
- 1/4 c. coconut palm sugar or stevia
- 1 tbs cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbs organic garam masala
- 2 1/4 cups gf flour
- 1 1/2 cups gf rolled oats
- 3/4 tsp stevia
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 C. Earth Balance (the Oilve Oil one is the cleanest.)
First, make the crumble: Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl, then cut in chilled earth balance with a pastry cutter or a fork, until the texture is crumbly and yummy looking.
Set it aside.
Next, blend the flours, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum together in a food processor or high speed blender. Add coconut oil and pulse to combine. Then add coconut milk one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms.
Line two baking sheets or two flat surfaces with parchment (a cutting board or your countertop will work). Lightly oil your pie pan with olive oil. Never done it? Just a nickel-sized drop in the pan, then swirl it all around with a paper towel, up the sides, in the corners...you got it.
Divide the dough mixture in half to make two dough balls. Place one ball on each of the parchment-covered baking sheets and flatten them into disc shapes. Allow them to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. You are going to use one, and freeze the other, for when you need to impress the hell out of someone.
Wash and peel the apples, then cut them into thin slices.
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and maple syrup. Add tapioca flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, stevia, garam masala, and salt and mix together. Once combined, add the apples into the bowl and toss to coat every last slice. The mixture might look a bit dry at first, but just set it aside for a few minutes. Let everybody get to know each other.
Remove the first dough ball and place another piece of parchment over top of it. Use a rolling pin to evenly roll the dough into a large circle, about 2 ½” larger than the pie pan. Store the other ball in a container in the freezer.
Once you’ve formed a circle-ish shape, carefully transfer the dough into the pie pan. Allow it to sink down on its own and then gently use your fingers to push it into the edges and clean up around the top. Place the crust into the freezer for 30 minutes. After the crust has been chilled, empty the apples into the crust with slightly more apples near the center and less around the edges. Placeit on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and bake for another 30 minutes.
Remove and allow it to cool for about an hour.
As delicious as this pie tastes straight out of the oven, it's even better the second day. Like so many dishes, the flavors really sink in and harmonize with each other, and the apples soak up all of the juicy goodness that escapes a bit during baking.
Move over, let me get my fork in there!
Happy Dreaming and Devouring, My Loves!