Make a Fool-Proof Apple Pie
We’ve all heard the expression, “As easy as pie.” I have made many, many pies, and I have come to the conclusion that the expression is really about eating pie, not making it. Because apple pie, as elemental as it seems, is really kind of complicated. First, the pastry requires some understanding of how to cut in solid fat, and handle the dough with a gentle hand. Then there is the filling, which should be packed with tender apples, and set up so that it is neither runny nor too thick. To make it even more complex, the bottom and top crusts are baking in completely different environments, one under wet fruit, the other on top.
Making pastry takes a few minutes, as does peeling and slicing apples, so the last thing you want is to have all your efforts result in a disappointing pie. That’s why I made my fool-proof apple pie.
Fool-Proof Apple Pie with One Easy “Hack”
To take any guesswork out of the making and baking of your pie, I hope you’ll try my pie, made with a sautéed apple filling. Instead of putting in raw apples and hoping that they and the crust bake to perfection simultaneously. Sautéing the apples removes the tricky part, where you hope the apples cook, the filling thickens, and you have to cover the pie with foil to prevent over-browning.
Vegan Pie Pastry is Easy, Too
If you haven’t tried my coconut oil pie pastry yet, this is the time to do it. Coconut oil has the kind of fats that solidify when cold, just like butter, so they can be used to make a flaky, crisp crust. The best way to add the coconut oil to the pastry is to chill it until solid, then grate it into the flour mix, so it stays in tiny bits. Then each little chunk of oil will boil and puff a tiny air pocket inside the pastry sheet, before being baked to crispness. That is the secret to flaky pie and pastry.
I’m partial to using coconut oil because it is a natural, simple food. If you prefer to use vegan butter, or dairy butter, that will work, too.
Try my Mini Holiday Tarts for another coconut oil pastry recipe.
Pick The Right Apples
In this pie, I used Haralsons apples. They are a perfect pie apple, with a crisp texture and a good amount of acidity to balance the sweetness. You can certainly use another pie apple, as long as you go with something with some snap. A really soft apple, like a Rome or Golden Delicious would soften too more than I prefer, unless you play with a shorter sauté time. Granny Smiths are usually easy to find and work well in pie, so if you need and easy pick, that is the one.
Fool-Proof Apple Pie
- 3/4 cup refined coconut oil or vegan butter
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons ice water approximately
- 4 pounds pie apples peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- plain almond milk, Turbinado sugar for topping
- Melt the coconut oil in either the microwave or by placing the jar in a pot of hot water until the oil is pourable. Measure 3/4 cup, and pour into a metal cup or mini loaf pan to chill until solid, at least an hour or two.
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar and salt, and whisk to combine. Use a grater to shred the fat into the flour. (if using coconut oil, melt it, pour it into a cup to measure, then chill. When solid, run water over the cup to remove the oil, and shred the solid oil into the flour mixture)
- Drizzle in the ice water while tossing the flour mixture with a fork. When it is all incorporated, press the dough together lightly and divide two portions, making one a little larger than the other. Press to make each half into a disk and place on a floured plate, cover and chill for an hour. If you refrigerate overnight, let the dough come to room temperature for at least an hour before rolling.
- Prepare a 9-inch, deep pie pan, a 12- inch skillet, a rolling pin, and a baking sheet to place under the pie. If desired a cookie cutter to make shapes for the top crust. There will be extra, so line a sheet pan with parchment to bake the extras as a treat.
- Peel and slice the apples. In a 12-inch steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the vegan butter and add the apples. Stir and turn to coat the apples with fat, then sprinkle with the sugar. Cook, turning, for about 8 minutes, until the apples are tender and caramelized. Sift the flour and cinnamon over the apples, turning and stirring to coat. Drizzle in the vanilla.
- Cool the apples completely, to speed it up, spread on a platter or baking pan.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Sprinkle the counter with flour, then place a dough round on the flour. Roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, then line the pie pan, fluting the edge. Roll out the second dough round, then cut the dough into small shapes (squares are fine, or use a leaf, tree, or other cutter to make decorative shapes.
- Scrape the apples into the pie shell, and arrange the dough shapes on top. Brush with almond milk and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Place on the baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack, uncovered, for 40 minutes, until the top crust is browned and crisp.To make pie crust crackers, place any extra cut outs of dough on the prepared sheet pan. Roll out the trims and cut into squares. Sprinkle with turbinaso or cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15 minutes on the top shelf.