Last week, I ordered a co-op basket that posed a challenge in the form of nine very small Fuji apples that were hard, tasteless, and (like the old joke about the bad restaurants with the small portions) way too small to be useful.
Don’t get me wrong, I love apples. But there was no way I was going to be able to eat these in their natural form. These apples were crying to be smothered in cinnamon and sugar, enveloped in a flaky crust and baked slowly and carefully until melt-in-your-mouth tender.
These apples wanted to be in a pie.
So. I made a pie, a huge one, to use up all of the apples and an oddball pear I had in my fridge. But I had to make the most perfect pie ever. This was not going to be a standard double-crust affair; this was going to be a deep-dish pie, with an amazing apple-pear-vanilla-cinnamon filling, my mother’s flaky pie crust and an incredibly rich maple-pecan streusel on top. This would be a pie to end all pies.
And, to top it all off, it would be vegan. Because I was out of butter.
I’ve given you a recipe here for an oil-based pie crust — there are people out there who are picky about their pastry, and if you are one of them, feel free to substitute your favorite recipe. Just make a double-crust recipe to make sure you have enough for the deep dish. This technique, by the way, can be credited to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, whose Deep Dish Apple Pie was definitely my main inspiration.
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you follow this recipe exactly. It’s pretty indulgent, but hey — we all need a treat sometimes, right?
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup oil of your choice
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 9 small Fuji apples, peeled, cored, cut into wedges
- 1 large Comice pear, peeled, cored, cut into wedges
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey, if you eat it)
- Prepare the pan by coating a 9-inch springform pan with oil.
- To make crust, combine oil, flour and salt in a large bowl and stir until you begin to see clumps. Add milk slowly, stopping before the dough becomes too sticky. Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper into a 16-inch round. Gently drape in springform pan, making sure it fits into all of the crannies. Trim excess, using scraps to cover any thin spots or tears. Let crust chill in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- To make filling, slice the wedged fruit into little slivers, 1/4 inch thick. Place pieces in a huge mixing bowl, and pour lemon juice over. Sprinkle with flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Stir vigorously to coat.
- Add filling to crust, pushing the pieces around to ensure the entire crust is filled. Carefully fold excess crust over the dough like you would for a galette. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the streusel. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork until it forms clumps. When 30 minutes of baking have elapsed, take pie out of oven and quickly pat streusel into the open top of the pie.
- Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for an hour, or until the exposed crust begins to look golden brown. You’re going to see some amazing caramel action going on. It’s incredible.
- Remove pie and let cool before serving. I chilled mine in the fridge for a few hours; that’s how I got this clean cut. Serve as is or with ice cream — vegan or not.