Apple pie was the first thing I ever learned to bake. Every time I went to Texas to visit my grandparents, I would watch my Nana make pie crust. My Nana is a very neat and meticulous person and when baking pies everything she did was graceful to me. The pie would get done quickly without any mess but she never looked rushed or in a hurry baking. I asked her to teach me so that I could have pie anytime I wanted and because I wanted to bake like her. I think everyone has a baking and cooking personality and habits. While I did learn how to make pie from her, I developed (not on purpose) an organized chaos style of cooking. I say organized because I usually will have all the ingredients prepared and ready to go and I plan meticulously. But once I actually start baking, I look and act like a chicken with its head cut off. I pace around, pick up the wrong ingredients and utensils, and set kitchen utensils down and then a couple of seconds later I’m running around going “where, where, where?!” Luckily I’ve made so many pies that I can sort of pull off a graceful, quick but not rushed style.
Over the years I learned that pies are really easy but the crust is the most difficult part. The moisture in the air, the weather, the altitude – all can change how the crust comes out. Making them has become one of the activities where I rely more on the feel of the ingredients rather than strictly following directions.
However, taking regular flour and gluten out of the picture changes the game a little. This recipe, tweaked a little from my Nana’s pie crust, is very similar in taste and texture to ones made with flour. It is very fragile though. I used to be able to create woven pie crusts out of dough but I definitely can’t do that with this recipe (I can hardly manage to flute the edges). But hey, it still tastes great and I never did woven crusts for apple pies anyway. It just wasn’t right for some reason.
I’ve taught a few of my friends how to make a pie, but this is my first time doing it in writing, so here I go.
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 2 cups almond flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda in a medium bowl. When baking with regular flour, I would sift it to make the crust more flaky, but I don’t do this with almond flour. I’ve tried it before, and more than half of the almond flour is too thick to get through the fine mesh. Also, it makes the crust too thin in my humble opinion.
Grate in a 1/2 cup frozen butter.
Add 1 tablespoon honey and using two forks, cut the butter and honey into the flour. Keep working the dough until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour. It will be a dry dough.
Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 egg yolk. My Nana told me the vinegar was to make the crust more flaky. I have no idea if the same rule applies to almond flour but why mess with a good thing? My previous attempts to make an almond flour crust without any egg (like how I learned) made it too fragile. The almond flour needed a binding ingredient, thus the egg yolk. Knead into the dough until you no longer see any streaks of yellow. Form into two separate balls of dough, making one larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Begin to core, peel, and slice 8 to 10 apples. This is the part that takes the most time, and it goes a lot faster if you can bribe family or friends to help you. And really they should jump at the chance. You’re making them pie – the end.
Now there have been many drop down drag out fights between pie bakers about what apples you should use. My Nana always used Granny Smith apples. My Grandma though, who lives in Oregon, refuses to use anything but Gravensteins. I only used Gravensteins when I was living in Sonoma County where they were readily available (I mean they have a highway named after them).
Put whatever apples you’re using into a large saucepan. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, a pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/4 to 1 cup honey. All of these ingredients depend on the tartness of the apples and your own taste preferences. I had to use 3/4 cups honey this time and I felt like the cloves were coming in a little strong, so I added more cinnamon. Trust your taste buds! Go with what you like.
Turn the heat onto medium and stir until everything is mixed together. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the moisture is reduced (you don’t want to end up with a soupy apple pie).
While the apples are cooking, roll out the smaller ball of dough in-between two layers of plastic wrap or use a baking mat with a layer of plastic wrap. The dough is very fragile and thin. To make it easier to peel off, put the rolled out dough in the freezer for a few minutes (seriously this makes it so easy to peel off). Slowly peel the baking mat or plastic wrap off and flip the dough into an 8 to 9 inch pie tin. Use your fingers to pat down the dough and to spread it up the sides. You can see my finger marks where I had to press and spread the dough up the sides of the tin.
Place in the oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is a golden brown color. Take the crust out and let it cool.
Place the cooked apples on top of the cooled pie crust and place dabs of butter across the surface (about 1 tablespoon).
Roll out the other ball of dough until it is slightly larger than the pie tin (this makes it possible to flute the edges). Carefully place on top of the apple filling and flute the edges. Cut 4 slices in the center, creating air vents.
Turn the oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pie into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. I had to put foil along the edges of the pie to prevent it from burning. It is easier to do this before you put it in the oven but I always forget.
Once done, take the pie out and let it cool for 30 minutes before serving (I know, it’s really really really hard).
Cut out your servings
and eat. And apple pie isn’t apple pie without vanilla ice cream, so scoop up some of that too.
I use my French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, so check that out if you like pie with ice cream too and are scratching your head on how to make it.
I told you. I inhaled it. What was the first thing that inspired you to bake or cook?
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter frozen and grated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 egg yolk
- 8-10 granny smith apples peeled and sliced
- 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch sea salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4-1 cup honey depending on how sweet the apples are
- 2 tablespoons butter separated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the almond flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl and mix.
Grate in the frozen butter. Add the honey and using two forks, cut the butter and honey into the flour until the butter is incorporated into the flour.
Add the vinegar and egg yolk and knead into the dough until there are no more yellow streaks.
Separate into two balls, making one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for ten minutes.
Core, peel, and slice the apples. Put in a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, sea salt, lemon juice and zest, honey, and butter. Turn the heat onto medium and stir until everything is mixed together. Cook on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the moisture is reduced.
While the apples are cooking, roll out the smaller ball of dough in-between two layers of plastic wrap. Flip into an 8 or 9 inch pie tin.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is a golden brown color. Take the crust out of the oven and let it cool.
Fill with the cooked apples and place dabs of butter across the surface (about 1 tablespoon).
Roll out the other ball of dough until it is slightly larger then the pie tin. Carefully place on top of the apple filling and flute the edges. Cut 4 small slices in the center, creating air vents.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pie in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown color. Watch for burning along the edges and wrap foil along the edges to prevent burning if needed.
Coring, peeling, and slicing the apples takes the longest. The apples take 20 minutes to simmer and the bottom crust takes 10 minutes to bake, so most of the extra time comes from the apple prep. The other extra time comes from fiddling around with the crust.