Traditional Apple Pie

Apple Pie

This double-crust favorite is a rustic take on the dessert that has graced American dinner tables since pioneer days. My version combines sorghum and millet flours in a crust "shortened" with butter and coconut oil, then hydrated with a blend of water, vinegar and honey. Apple choice is critical; Northern Spy or Lodi are the best choices for single-source fruits, but a blend of tart, sweet and spicy work well too. This recipe can be halved for a 6-inch pie.


Yield:  One 9-inch circular double-crust pie.
Time to Make: 60 minutes active. Overnight dough refrigeration. 45 minutes oven dwell.
Tools needed:  Two large bowls. Whisk. One small bowl. Large, heavy skillet. Plastic work surface or 2 large sheets of thick plastic wrap. Rolling pin. Sharp knife. Bench knife or frosting spatula. 9 inch pie pan. Measuring cups and spoons, or scale. 

Dough Ingredients

1 Tablespoon (15 grams) wine vinegar - preferably sherry
1 Tablespoon (15 grams) honey
1/4 cup ( 65 Ml) hot (110 F) water
2/3 cup (90 grams) sorghum flour 
2/3 cup (90 grams) millet flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup minus 2 teaspoons (50 grams) tapioca starch
1 Tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons solid virgin coconut oil

Filling Ingredients

2 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds apples, preferably Northern Spy, or a mix of tart and sweet
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar, preferably sherry
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Procedure:

1) The night before baking, make the dough: Measure water and honey into a small bowl and stir until fully integrated. Add the vinegar and stir. Place into freezer.  Measure the two flours, the tapioca starch, the sugar, the xanthan gum and the salt into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and toss into flour mix. Add the coconut oil.

2) Using two butter knives, "Cut in" the fats by inserting the knives side-by-side into the flour/fat mixture and pushing the blades outward, repeatedly, in an action that rubs the ingredients against the blades. "Cut in" until the butter cubes have been reduced into small spheres. Then, use your knuckles or a blunt masher, such as a potato masher, to flatten the butter into thin flakes, about an inch or two long. This will take a few minutes of moderately forceful pushing. Pause from time to time and toss mixture. Add cold water/vinegar mix, including any ice chunks, and toss with a fork until all flour is just barely wet. Gather with your hands and press into a ball. Divide in two. Place in plastic wrap or a sealed plastic container and refrigerate, at least 4 hours or overnight.

3) Heat oven to 425. Peel, core, and slice apples into quarters or eighths. Melt the butter in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over high heat. Sauté the apples until they just begin to brown, tossing frequently. Add the spices, the salt, the sugar and the vinegar. Lower heat to medium and cook until apples are becoming mushy on the outside. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and toss to cover all the pieces, then turn out onto aluminum foil or bakers parchment, to cool.

4) Place one of the dough balls on a well-dusted work surface or between two large sheets of plastic bag material (easier way). Roll the dough into a circle about 13 inches in diameter. The dough will be resistant at first but begin to "flow" as it warms. Lift dough and place over pie pan. The easiest way to do this is to carefully roll the dough over the rolling pin, then unroll it atop the pie pan. Gently press the dough down into the pan. Use dough scraps to repair any cracks. Place pan into the freezer while apples cool.

5) Place the second dough ball on a well-dusted work surface or between two sheets of thick plastic. Roll to a 13 inch circle. Allow to rest while filling pan with apples.

6) Remove pie pan from freezer. Arrange apples in the pan. Scrape all liquid from apples into the pan. Transfer second dough disk to cover apples. Seal dough edges, doing a cleaner job than I did. (!) Cut a few small openings in the dough lid for steam to escape.

7) Bake pie for 20 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 375 and bake another 30 minutes, or until liquid bubbles around the openings in the crust. If edge of crust begins to over-brown, protect it with pieces of aluminum foil. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and eating.

Serving suggestion: a lá mode, natch!