Apple Pie

Apple Pie
Nine inch apple pie with gluten-free cookie crumb toping ... and

Apple Tart
One four inch apple tart

One of the treats that hasn't been served to friends or family in a long time is fruit pie with a conventional crust. Virtually all of the gluten free pie crusts up until this one act as if they were made with cement powder. But not this one. The pie crust is easy to make and has a wonderful texture - just like wheat-based pie crust. In fact, this crust may actually be better than wheat-based pie crust. The bottom line is that apple pie is back being a company dish in our home.

Here are the steps we followed to make the pie and tart.

Gluten Free Baking Classics

You'll need Annalise Robert's cookbook for the pie crust. Since the book is copyrighted, the recipe is not repeated here. It is not so much the ingredients but the technique that is important. Of course, although Annalise advises us not to tamper with the recipes, a little personalization is not bad. At the writing of this recipe, the book is selling for $10.95 from Overstock.Com (a favorite place for books) or $11.53 from Amazon.

Although we think Annalise's cakes are a bit on the rich side and we haven't had the best of luck with a bread recipe, this is the gluten free cook book to own! It is easily worth the price if not for the pie crust recipe alone. Consider the market price of a gluten free apple pie: You can pick up a 9 inch apple pie at Everybody Eats in New York for $27.00, and a woman in Santa Cruz, CA offered to bake one GF pie for $60 and two for $100.

The pies you see are a collaboration between Hallie and Vic. That is because pie-making is a lot of fun and because sometimes GF baking is best done with 4 hands. Since Hallie mixed the dry ingredients, she did not follow Annalise's instructions completely. Instead of Annalisa's flour mix, Hallie used Carol Fenster's mix (click) and instead of sweet rice flour, Hallie used buckwheat flour. The issue is that neither of us is particularly fond of rice-based breads and pastries although we do make them occasionally.

Tart Shell

Prepare Traditional Pie Crust according to the instructions on page 71 of Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Roll out crust to 3/16" - 1/4" in thickness. Tart shells require 1/8" thickness dough. If you have extra pie dough after making your primary pie, you can re-roll the dough into smaller tart shells. Note: dough is rolled between sheets of waxed paper.

The pie dough recipe makes enough for one 9" diameter pie using a 1/4" thick crust and enough left over for a tart shell.

We par-baked the large shell per Annalise's recommendation but did not par-bake the tart shell. We did not let the par-baked crust cool because we were in a time crunch. We just loaded it.

Filling Pie Shells
Filled Pie Shells

A combination of different apples makes the best pie. The different apple flavors reduce the need for as much sugar. Quarter, peel, core and slice 7 large apples.* You will want thin slices, about 1/16" thick. This is the most tedious part of the recipe. Small fruit, such as blueberries and blackberries also are good, and they take less time.

To the fruit, add 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown), 2 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 shakes of clove, and 3-4 shakes of allspice. You can also add a splash of vanilla. Mix the spices, sugar, apples and tapioca thoroughly. You can use your hands to speed the process. Conversely, you can omit all spices, or use a different combination, or add more or less. It's a matter of personal preference. Set the apples aside for 5-10 minutes until some juices begin to form. Stir again just before loading the pie crust.

We heaped the fruit because the level will drop as the pies cook.

*We used 3 fujis and 1 each spartan, cameo, granny smith, and gravenstein.

Apple sauce If you have extra fruit, make a sauce of it. Just put it up to boil. You do not need extra liquid.
First baking step Place filled pie pans on a jelly roll pan. Cover the pie pans with oven-proof covers. (Our table wear is over-proof. Make sure yours is too before using it in this manner.) Bake at 375° F for 25 minutes. We use a convection oven.
Crumb Topping

Meanwhile, prepare a crumb topping. You will need a bit more than a cup of crushed gluten-free cookies or cold cereal. You could also make Annalise's crumb topping on page 75. Ours was made from Mi-Del Arrowroot cookies with 6 Mi-Del Ginger Snaps added for a little ginger flavor. 100% ginger snaps would make for an aggressive crumb crust.

To make the crumb crust, use a pastry blender to cut 3 Tablespoons butter (cut into pieces) into 1-1/8 cup crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar. Continue to cut in until you have a product that is a coarse meal.

Add Crumb Topping
Completed topping

Remove the partially cooked pies from the oven and place on a heat-proof work surface. Thickly distribute the crumb topping over the pies. Return the pies to the oven, uncovered. Continue baking for 15 - 30 minutes until slightly bubbly or slightly brown, whichever comes first. The tart will be done about 10 minutes before the large pie. We had to throw a sheet of foil over the large pie for the last 10 minutes because it was browning too quickly.

Remove from oven and allow to thoroughly cool before serving or else the filling could be a bit runny. The purpose of the tapioca is to stabilize the liquid but allow the pie to have a juicy sensation in the mouth.