Apple packed, lightly spiced and sweetened, this Apple Pie is gluten free and vegan, but you’d never know it. A tender-flakey coconut oil pastry with an easy cut out top crust makes this Apple Pie simple to assemble and fun to share. | Disclosure: This recipe is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill. All opinions are my own.
I was reminded anything worthwhile takes time, as I researched, developed and tested this gluten free vegan Apple Pie recipe. I knew it was a recipe I wanted to tackle, and after running a poll on Instagram, it was confirmed. And so the journey began.
By the fifth pie, lots of eating pie, giving away pie and freezing pie, I finally got it right. The texture of the apples, exacting spices, a hint of bourbon (optional*) and a tender pastry that is gluten free and vegan finally came together.
With the help of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, and familiarity with coconut oil pastry, the pie dough comes together with ease. It was the filling and baking that gave me fits. First, it was the overflow of juices from the sugar and apples that worked its way out of the pie while baking. While a little is okay, overflowing is not!
Next, the dreaded gap emerged that sometimes develops between the pastry and apple filling after baking and cooling, an aesthetic that cannot be ignored. Last, the texture of the apples after baking and cooling, went from being too crunchy to mush.
Good news is I never dealt with a soggy bottom. A problem sometimes experienced in fruit pies.
Learning from the Pros
And so I read, tested, and read more about this dreaded gap and other issues. Some said the gap is caused by the type of fat used in the pastry, others suggested macerating the apples, capturing the liquid, cooking the liquid down then thickening the liquid with starch, and adding it back into the apple filling prior to baking.
Then, suggestions of cooking the apples prior to filling the pie using varied techniques. And of course, these different techniques all had an effect on the final texture of the apples.
In the end, it was tips from Samin Nosrat, author of Salt Fat Acid Heat, Amy Traverso’s The Apple Lover’s Cookbook and also Cook’s Illustrated that helped me bring this recipe to a winning conclusion!
What are the Best Apples to use in Apple Pie?
- Choose a mix of firm, tart and sweet apples such as Cortland, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Gravenstein, Cameo, Jonagolds and/or Pink Lady. These varieties tend to hold their structure well in Apple Pie.
- Using a mix of at least three different types of apples yields flavor interest, texture variety and a lovely fragrance.
- For this pie, I use Granny Smith, Gravenstein and apples from my neighbor’s tree, an heirloom variety of Golden Delicious.
How to Make a Homemade Apple Pie
Time and a little attention produces the best homemade apple pie. Fresh and hot, ready for your favorite vanilla ice cream, here’s how to do it:
- First, make the pastry in a food processor. While the dough is resting, make the apple filling.
- Next, peel, cut, core and slice the apples thin. Mix with sugar, spices, vanilla and bourbon or apple juice then gently cook the mixture in a large Dutch oven or stock pot.
- Third, toss the cooked apples on a baking sheet to cool. Meanwhile, roll out the dough, place and shape it into a pie plate.
- Fourth, strain and transfer the apples to the uncooked pastry. Straining the apples helps insure little to no leakage or overcooked apples.
- Fifth, roll out the dough for the top crust, cut out various shapes and arrange over the apples leaving gaps between the cutouts for steam to escape.
- Last, freeze the pie for 15 minutes. Brush the pastry with nut milk, sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture and bake.
How to Prevent a Gap Between the Apples and Pastry
To prevent the dreaded gap, there are a few steps to take prior to tossing the apples in the pie pan.
- Gently cooking the apples helps set the pectin, bringing it to a heat stable form. This prevents further cooking and dreaded mushiness (or further apple shrinkage). Cook prior to baking for 10-15 minutes. Spread apples and juices on a sheet pan and place in the freezer to quickly cool to room temperature. Now they’re ready for the pie pan.
- Strain the sugar and spice mixture off the apples after cooling. Doing this reduces moisture and steam build up under the crust, which can also further cook the apples making them too soft. Straining also prevents an overflow of apple juices spilling over and onto the baking pan.
- Make sure there are plenty of steam vents in the top crust for steam to escape. To ensure this, I use a top crust made of pastry cutouts. I use leaves here, but stars or flowers would be festive too.
A Few Recipe Notes on Making a Fabulous Homemade Gluten Free and Vegan Apple Pie
- Make Ahead? The pastry can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated or up to two weeks if stored in the freezer (thaw overnight in the fridge). Before working the dough, bring it to room temperature. Coconut oil pastry is easier to handle at room temperature (opposite of everything butter dough!).
- Bourbon/Whiskey or Leave Out? Opt to use what best fits your diet/needs whether a traditional bourbon/whiskey or a sorghum based whiskey, you can leave it out or sub in apple cider (nonalcoholic) or apple juice. Conflicting information remains regarding distilled spirits being okay to consume for some gluten free individuals, but may not be okay for all.
- Working with gluten free and coconut oil pastry is such a pleasure. Although a bit more crumbly then gluten and butter pastry, we don’t have to worry about over developing the gluten, so if rolling it out doesn’t work the first time, the pastry can be reworked and rolled out again still producing a tender pastry.
- Five pounds of apples seems like a lot, but once they’re peeled, cored, cooked, piled into the pie plate and nudged into place, it becomes the perfect amount for a lovely, mounded Apple Pie.
- To help prevent a soggy bottom, place a parchment lined sheet pan in the oven while it’s warming. When the oven is ready, the pan will be nice and hot which will transfer direct heat to the bottom pastry. I prefer to use a glass pie plate so I can keep an eye on the bottom crust.
Only the Best Ingredients
As a baker and blogger, I’ve been a long time fan of Bob’s Red Mill flours and pantry staples because choosing the best ingredients is important to me. Partnering with a brand I trust to share ingredients and recipes I love is simply icing on the cake!
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour is a blend of gluten free flours, starches and xanthan gum. It’s helped me create light and fluffy cupcakes, delectable cookies and a fabulous gluten free pizza crust based on old favorites. Using their Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour for this Apple Pie is an easy way to still enjoy fabulous pie without gluten.
Apple Pie - Gluten Free + Vegan Recipe
For the Pastry:
For the Apple Filling:
- 5 lbs (2.3kg) Whole Apples about 11 medium apples, a mix of three sweet-tart and firm varieties. I use Granny Smith, Gravenstein and apples from my neighbor’s tree, an heirloom variety of Golden Delicious* (see note)
- 1/2 C (105g) Brown Sugar packed
- 1/4 C (60g) Cane Sugar
- 1/4 C (65g) Bourbon, Apple Juice or Apple Cider optional* See Note
- 1 tsp Cinnamon ground
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg ground
- 1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 Tbs Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbs Corn Starch
For the Pastry:
- Whisk the nut milk and apple cider vinegar together in a spouted measuring cup. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, add the gluten free flour, tapioca flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse 5-6 times to combine. Add the solid coconut oil and pulse until chunky, about 7-8 pulses. With the processor running, add the nut milk mixture, holding out about one to two tablespoons and process about 10-15 seconds or until the mixture starts to come together (it will look crumbly). To see if the dough is ready, grab a fist-full and squeeze. It should hold together. If not, add the remaining nut milk, process again and retest until it clumps in your fist.
- Dump the dough out onto a large piece of parchment paper. Use the parchment paper to work the dough into a pliable piece, press and fold the bits together - folding and pressing the dough over and on top of itself until the dough comes together in one piece. Shape into a smooth thick disk, then divide in half. Shape the two new halves, patting and rounding into a 1-2" thick (2.5-5cm) disk. You want the pastry to be smooth with no cracks if possible. Wrap the pastry in parchment paper or turn a bowl over the top of the of the disks (they can be stacked). The dough should be tacky, not sticky. If the dough is sticky, pop it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then bring it out to room temperature again. Rest the pastry at room temperature while you prepare the apples.
For the Apples:
- Peel, core and slice the apples 1/4" thick (a little over is okay). You'll have about 16 C (1.5kg) of apples after slicing. Use your hands to gently toss the apples with the sugars, bourbon if using, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla paste or vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Place the apples and juices into a large heavy bottom Dutch oven or large stock pot and cook on medium, gently stirring frequently, allowing the juices to simmer for 10-15 minutes. The apples should be just fork tender. I prefer a tender crisp apple so I cook for about 11 minutes. For a softer set, cook for 13-15 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in the corn starch.
- Pour the apples and all their juices onto a parchment lined sheet pan and spread the apples into an even layer. Place in the freezer for about 12-15 minutes to cool to room temperature. Set aside.
Roll out the Pastry:
- While the apples are cooling, melt a bit of coconut oil and brush onto the bottom, sides and edges (very important (!!) get those edges) of a 9" (22cm) pie plate (I prefer glass* - see note). Roll out the pastry between two sheets of parchment to about 1/8" (3mm) thick - no thinner and about a 12" (30cm) circle. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of water (1/4 tsp) over the pastry if there's too much cracking. Gently remove the top parchment piece and using the rolling pin, roll up the pastry with the bottom layer of parchment in tact. Flip the pin over so that the pastry is now facing the pie plate, center the pastry and gently unroll. Carefully remove the parchment that is now on top of the pastry. There will be some breaking. Gently form the dough into the pie plate. Trim the edge of the pastry to about 1" beyond the edge of the plate. Tuck the pastry edges under as best you can, patching any thin areas with dough that has broken off (think play dough). We want the dough to be of about the same thickness all the way around. A dab of water here and there will help smooth any rips, tears or rough edges. Also, if there are any tears in the pastry inside the dish, patch those up with a dab of water and a small piece of pastry where needed. Crimp the edges into a pretty shape. Here's a tutorial, it's not gluten free, but it works as long as your dough on the edges of the pie plate are built up (remember play dough). Start at 33:00 for the rope crimp. Run a knife around the outermost edge of the pastry to trim off any excess being careful not to cut into the crimping. Set aside at room temperature while you roll out the top crust.
- Roll out the top crust between two pieces of parchment to about 1/8" (3mm) thick. Gently remove the top parchment, sprinkle a bit of flour over the top and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter or knife. Brush off any flour that remains on top of the cut outs. Set aside at room temperature.
Assemble the Pie:
- Strain the apples, shaking the apples to drain off juices. Discard the juice. Pour the apples into the pastry lined pie plate. Nudge the apples into the pastry, arranging them so that there are few gaps between apples. Arrange the curved sides of the apples along the edges as best you can to maximize space. Use your hands to gently press the apples down, wiggling and nudging, while creating a smooth dome.
- Gently lift the pastry cut outs with an offset spatula, and arrange one at a time on top of the apples. There should be some overlapping, so use a dab of water to 'glue' the pieces of pastry together. We don't want any sliding off the pie. Arrange the cutouts in a decorative pattern leaving gaps between as steam vents.
- Place the pie in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425F (218C). Set a parchment lined sheet pan on the center rack while the oven preheats. Just before the oven is ready, pull the pie from the freezer and brush the pie with nut milk making sure to cover the edges and all the cut outs. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and generously sprinkle over the pie.
Bake the Pie:
- Bake the pie on a preheated parchment lined sheet pan in a 425F oven for 45-55 minutes rotating the pan 1/2 way through baking. If the pie begins to get too dark on the edges or top, cover the edges with foil or a pie protector. For the top, tent a piece of foil with a hole cut in the top for a steam vent. The pie is done when it's fragrant, the pastry is golden brown (some dark edges are okay) and you can see a bit of the juices bubbling in the center.
- Cool the pie completely, at least two hours, before cutting or covering it. A practice in patience. Just before cutting the pie, ease the edges of the pastry from the pie plate by running a pairing knife all around the edge. Then, set the pie in a shallow pool of hot tap water for one minute. This allows the fats to soften, making it easier to cut and release from the bottom.
- Rewarm individual slices in a 350F (180C) for about 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream and your favorite caramel sauce. Store apple pie covered, at room temperature for up to two days. It's best rewarmed as it refreshes the pastry and makes it crisp again. Otherwise the pastry will soften as it sets.