New Adventures in Baking... the Fall!
This season marks almost one full year since we have gone completely gluten-free in our household and while we will do a little celebrating and such in later postings and talking about our journey so far, we do want to write about seasonal baking. Baking is a huge part of my life, having been a professional baker in my previous life, so going gluten-free this year felt somewhat like starting over in the baking world. I have learned a great deal about new ingredients and how they work or in many cases, do not work together. Fall however brings forth a number of many new recipes that I have yet to attempt and am excited to try.
I have mentioned before, I know, that Fall is my hands down, bar none, favorite time of the year. I am a North Eastern chick, Virginia to be exact- born and raised. I love everything that Virginia has to offer (I am overstating there, I despise the 100% humidity of the summer, yuck... aside of that, everything) but the fall, is the best. On the best years the fall foliage is something that people from across the country travel to this area to see. The Shenandoah Mountains and ranges, all part of the Appalachian, transform into such an amazing palette of majestic colors. Just sitting outside on my deck, I can close my eyes and listen to the breeze blow through the drying leaves and smell the crisp air for hours in absolute peace... of course if there was time for that, ha! I do make some time to enjoy this time of year, because it truly is where I think I store my Zen for the rest of the year and it is also my absolutely favorite time for activities and baking!
Years ago when my kiddos were just wee little ankle-biters, one of my best friends invited me with her parents to go apple picking, something I had never done before. The kids and I had the times of our lives and the pictures were gorgeous. I also never knew how amazing an apple was freshly pick from an apple tree! The following years, we continued the tradition, through good times and bad no matter what, I took the kiddos apple picking. Each year we came home with a bushel of apples to make special treats that filled not only our stomachs but also our hearts and eased our minds. The smells of the wonderful fall spices that filled the house just set my mind at ease even at the most challenging times. It couldn't make me happier to see the kiddos faces when they came home from school to spy a fresh apple pie sitting on the kitchen counter for them for dessert.
This year we discovered that MacLeod had never been apple picking. We aren't sure what happened last year, but we were certain that this year he would definitely be climbing trees, grabbing fruit and buying freshly caramel dipped apples and possibly be getting stung by a bee or two. And so we embarked on our apple picking and had a wonderful time, this time as a whole family, finally.
I have read a TON regarding variations on crusts and there are SO many ways you can go. There are very few options on dairy free crusts though and dairy unfortunately has become an increasing problem in my unruly gut. So I have spent the last (post-less!) few weeks experimenting with some oils without having to try to rely on the pastry standby of lard or fat. I love coconut oil and really wanted to try to see how I could use it so tried it on the first attempt and it worked well. I tried a few other variations, but came back to the coconut oil, it just gave a super nice crisp and flaky crust. I ended up springing off of a Joy of Baking basic recipe for tart crust that used confectioners for the sweetness in the crust and it really balanced well with the coconut. It comes together very easy, if it crumbles you just squish it back together again and re-roll it or even just press it into your pan to the edges. No gluten so you cannot possibly over work it. It comes together fast and it truly is easy. My family LOVES it, I hope you do too.
Free and Simple Apple Pie (Gluten-free and Dairy-free)
8 C Granny Smith Apples (or other variety tart apple) cut into wedges
1 C Coconut palm sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs corn starch (potato starch works as well)
1 1/4 c flour
1/3 c conf sugar
1/2 c coconut oil
plus 1/2 C tapioca starch for dusting
1. Over medium heat add apples and spices to a sauce pan. Cook apple wedges for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the apples are just tender enough to pierce then reduce to a simmer.
2. Remove about 1/4 cup of liquid from the pan and whisk in the corn starch. Add the corn starch mixture to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the filling has thickened.
3. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Chill the coconut oil in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, just until its firm but not too solid.
3. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and powdered sugar and whisk together.
4. Remove the coconut oil from the refrigerator and cut it into pieces. Add the pieces to the flour and sugar mixture. With a fork or pastry blender, cut the oil into the flour mixture and continue to blend until the mixture comes together. When there is no more flour left, you can start to press the mixture together with your hands.
5. With a piece of parchment paper on your rolling surface, generously sprinkle enough tapioca flour to begin to roll the dough. Coat the rolling pin with flour before you roll. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
6. Gently flip over the parchment paper onto the pie plate and then peel back the parchment paper. If it cracks or tears at all, simply press it back together and smooth it back out again.
7. With a fork, poke at least 6 holes in the bottom of the pie plate and around the edges.
8. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes, unfilled and remove from the oven.
While the pie shell is still HOT, fill the shell and return it back to the oven and continue to bake the pie for an additional 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting to let the filling set.