Monday, August 5, 2013

Vegan Apple Ginger Pie

Take a classic dish and renovate it. Bring it to the 21st century, with all its new diet crazes and unpronounceable health-food ingredients. But still make it as accessible as possible.

These were my lofty goals when deciding to revamp the oh-so-American Apple Pie. 

Some would say that Apple Pie is perfect the way it is. Flaky, buttery crust. Gooey, oozing, saccharine filling. Just the way grandma makes it. (Maybe your grandma, at least. My grandma is awestruck when I bake, with my measuring cups and flour flying everywhere. The Indian sweets she is accustomed to making require neither flour nor measuring.) 

But I think it can be improved. Of course, Apple Pie American-style is divine. But why not make it, well, different. Modern. Dare I say it, healthful. 

This pie rivals that traditional, patriotic pie. Same flaky crust, except vegan and whole wheat. Same delicious filling, except jazzed up with crisp ginger and freshly ground cinnamon to replace the buckets of sugar.  

It is still patriotic. Just not in the Fast Food Nation way. No butter or white sugar in stereotypically "American" amounts. 

For those who are neither vegan nor dieting, this pie is best enjoyed with a small scoop of ice cream. I am partial to vanilla, but anything goes. Salted caramel? Butter Pecan? 

 The elusive ingredient in the flaky crust is coconut oil.

 Frozen coconut oil.

 Getting ready...

 Grate the frozen coconut oil into the flour to get the necessary flakiness. No need for dicing sticks of butter into the flour. Did I mention coconut oil is healthful?

 Poked, crimped, ready to bake. It isn't perfect, but I prefer it rustic.

The cheater's easy method to making a lattice crust. Bake the bottom crust until close to done. Add the filling. Place the neatly prepared lattice crust, as seen above, on the pie and bake until the lattice is crispy and flaky and gorgeous. Foolproof. 

Soon it will be gone...Yum!

Vegan Apple Pie
adapted from Sweet and Easy Vegan by Robin Asbell
makes one 7-inch pie (serves 6...or 4... or 1)

For the Crust:
-1 cup + 2 tbsp white whole-wheat flour

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-3 tbsp coconut oil, frozen*

-1 tbsp canola oil

-approximately 8 tbsp ice water

Combine flour, salt, and cinnamon. Feel free to add a pinch of nutmeg, a ground clove, some ground ginger. Never fear flavor.

Grate the frozen coconut oil into the flour. Mix lightly with a fork until all the frozen oil pieces are coated with flour. Add the canola oil and ice water, one tbsp at a time, stirring with a fork, until you have a crumbly dough. As soon as the dough begins to stick together, make it into a ball and refrigerate it in plastic while you make the filling.

*To do this, I lined little bowl with waxed paper, poured the coconut oil in, and froze it for about 20 minutes. 

For the filling:
-4 medium apples (preferably a slightly sour variety), peeled and sliced into eigths

-1/2-3/4 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

-1/8 tsp ground clove

-1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

-3 tbsp packed brown sugar (or raw sugar, the more vegan option)

-a spritz of lemon juice

-1 1/2 tsp arrowroot combined with 1 tbsp water (optional)

Combine the apples, cinnamon, clove, and lemon juice in a saucepan with 3/4 cup water. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, until the apples are completely soft.

Add the brown sugar and ginger and stir.

Evaporate until there are about 3-4 tbsp liquid left and remove from the flame. Add the arrowroot mixture if using. This will help the liquid thicken in the oven.

To Assemble:
Between two sheets of plastic, roll the dough out into a circle that is 1/8-3/8 inch thick. Place the disk of dough on the 7-inch pie pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the sides. Trim the excess dough off with a knife. This will be used to create the lattice top. 

Crimp the edges of the dough. Poke holes in the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Place in the oven and bake at 425 degrees F for 5 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 400 and bake for 10-15 more minutes until just turning golden.

Meanwhile, create the lattice top. Take the remaining dough and roll it out to a rectangle that is about 6 by 8 inches. Cut it into eight strips, each 8 inches long. Create the 4 by 4 lattice pattern by weaving the strips of dough together. Look at the picture above to see what I mean. It is hard to explain but hopefully easy to replicate.

After the bottom crust has baked, remove from the oven. Place the filling in the crust. Then, place the lattice on top, pressing the ends of the strips of dough into the bottom crust.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-12 more minutes until the lattice is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool a little before slicing and devouring it. 

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