November 13, 2014

A Slice of Healthier Holiday Pie




It's fall and the weather is a blustery 68 degrees here today in Los Angeles. Alright... it doesn't feel much like fall in the land of eternal sunshine, but I see girls in Uggs and sweaters so it must be getting closer to Thanksgiving. To bring me into the holiday spirit doesn't actually take much. Once my oven is fired up and something delicious is baking inside, I'm ready to sing some carols! 
When in comes to baking, one dessert trumps them all for me- Apple Pie! It is sweet, yet tart, and fills up the house with an amazing aroma. It reminds me of little grandmas everywhere and makes me want to take up knitting. Apple Pie is my FAVORITE. I would eat it all day if I could... but apparently that's not healthy. I knew I had to make a healthier recipe. 
This recipe is also very easily modified to be vegan! In the entire pie there is only a tablespoon of sugar (1/2 T cane sugar and 1/2 T brown sugar) and one tablespoon of honey! The crust has less butter (yay for coconut oil!) and therefore less cholesterol. It was even approved by my boyfriend who said, "I don't like apple pie but this is amazing!" 
Full recipe is at the bottom of post.

Melanie's Apple Pie

Sift together two cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Usually flour should be measured by grams on a scale, not by cups; however, pie crust can be easily modified by adding more coconut oil, flour, or water based on what it needs to get to the right consistency. Don't be scared by this! It takes practice, but it is easy to tell if it is too dry and crumbly or too sticky. 

Make sure that your ingredients and bowl when making the crust are cold. This is essential for the crust to turn out right! Mix in 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Cut in butter into pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle water over and knead until the right consistency. This recipe can also be vegan if you omit the butter and raise the coconut oil to 3/4 cup. I love using coconut oil in my crusts! It brings in a sweetness without adding sugar, and reduces the amount of butter. This crust is flaky and bursting with flavor! 

Make sure to use tart apples! They also should just barely be ripe. Using overripe apples or ones that are not tart will result in mushy pie filling. 

I used a peeler to peel off the skin, a corer to take out the core and slice the apples into wedges, and then cut each slice into thirds. The apples can also be thinly sliced instead of cut into pieces. I prefer the chunks but it is up to you! This was about six cups of apples, but you can use seven if you prefer a taller pie.

To the apples I added 1/2 tablespoon organic cane sugar, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of raw honey. Apples provide a lot of flavor, so if you want to cut out the sugar altogether and only add honey, it will still be delicious! When everything is mixed together, make sure that it is not too runny. This can make the bottom crust mushy. You can reduce this liquid by heating it in a saucepan, or just remove it altogether. 

The honey that I love is orange blossom honey from Bill's Bees here in California. It is sold at various farmers markets in the area. I got mine at the Burbank Farmers Market, and it's just about time to go back and get some more! 

After your dough is chilled, it's time to roll it out! I use two sheets of floured wax paper with the dough in between. It is so easy, hardly sticks, and makes clean up a breeze!

Occasionally you will have to take off one of the sheets of wax paper to reduce the creasing that happens and to add some more flour. Then flip it over and keep rolling until it is the right size!

Viola! Now make sure your crust is still cold before going in the oven. If you are using a glass dish, switching from extreme cold to extreme heat can be bad, so wait until the last second to put the cold crust in the dish and then straight into the oven once filled and topped! 

The bottom crust is filled and dotted with butter, but remember that is optional!

How pretty is this! I love to use a fork to make steam vent designs in my pies. They ooze character and can add a festive touch for the holidays. To crinkle the pie edges I use two knuckles on one hand and one on the other and push the edges between them all the way around the pie. Another option is to push a fork or spoon down around the edge to make a crimped crust. Make sure to cut off the excess crust that hangs over the dish with a knife.

Now cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F, then reduce heat to 375 and remove foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. When removing foil, this is a good time to rotate the pie to ensure even baking. You will know the pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. 
Next comes the hard part! Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours. The filling needs time to set so that it doesn't run. 


Once cooled, Enjoy!




Melanie's Apple Pie
Crust:
-2 cups All-Purpose Flour
-1/2 tsp Salt
-1/4 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil*
-1/2 cup Unsalted Butter*
-1/4 tsp Vanilla
-4-6 Tbsp Cold Water
*If using vegan recipe, omit butter and use 3/4 cup coconut oil)

Filling:
-6 cups Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped or thinly sliced
-1 tsp Vanilla
-1/2 Tbsp Flour
-1 Tbsp Honey
-1/2 Tbsp Sugar
-1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
-1/2 Tbsp Butter (approximately) to dot filling

Crust
1. Sift together flour and salt into a large (cold) bowl.
2. Stir in coconut oil and vanilla.
3. Cut in butter until in small pieces.
4. Slowly add in water and knead until completely mixed. Add just enough water to combine all of the flour. Do not over-mix!
5. Separate the dough into two and chill in the refrigerator for at least a half hour.
6. Flour two pieces of wax paper and place one piece of the dough in between and roll out until large enough to fit into pie dish. Occasionally pull off wax paper to add more flour and flip over the dough. 
7. Repeat step 6 for the top layer and then chill until ready to put into pie dish. Pie crust should be COLD right before putting into the oven. 

Filling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
1. Peel apples and then chop into small pieces, or slice thinly (up to personal preference). To keep from browning, place in a bowl of cold water with a splash of lemon juice. Make sure to pat dry apples before moving to the next step.
2. Add apples, vanilla, flour, honey, sugar, and brown sugar into a large bowl. Mix together. 
There should not be too much liquid. If too watery, do not add all the liquid in the next step.
3. Place pie crust into dish, lightly dust with flour, and then add in filling. Dot with butter (*do not add butter for vegan recipe). 
4. Add top pie crust. Pinch together ends or press down with a fork. Remove excess with a knife. 
5. Poke holes in top crust with a fork. 
6. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
7. Reduce heat to 375 and remove foil. Bake for additional 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. 
8. Cool for at least 2 hours. If it is still warm, the filling will be runny! 


Enjoy!


Let me know what you think of this recipe! Comment below! 


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