Apple Pie

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Dessert, grain-free | 37 comments



Apple Pie

Guess who makes the best apple pie? My mom. You might think it’s actually your mom, but you’re wrong. It’s mine.

Just ask anybody.

the zenbelly cookbook

So when I decided that I had to recreate the iconic dessert paleo-style, it was of course hers that I was trying to emulate. The result? It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s buttery and flaky and has some bite to it. The crust is good enough to be eaten on it’s own, and the apples inside taste like fall itself. They’re barely sweeter than a fresh apple, and have just a hint of cinnamon. To me, it’s paleo apple pie, perfected.

Full disclosure: You are going to find yourself hating me while making this recipe. I wouldn’t even attempt to make this pie without swearing. The crust is not easy to work with. You will hopefully love, (or at least like) me again, once the smell of apple pie fills your home. And you might even do a happy dance when you pull it out of the oven IMG_2663 And when you cut into it, you might say something like “Maybe Simone isn’t such an (insert expletive here) after all” paleo apple pie Okay, ready? Let’s make apple pie.

cold chunks of butter go into the mixed dry ingredients

cold chunks of butter go into the mixed dry ingredients

 

The butter gets cut in with a pastry cutter...

The butter gets cut in with a pastry cutter…

...until it's the texture of fine crumbs, like this.

…until it’s the texture of coarse crumbs, like this.

After the egg yolks and vanilla get mixed in, the consistency will seem too dry to become a crust, but it should be able to do this when you squeeze it in your hand:

voila!

voila!

Once everything is mixed, the dough is divided into two disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated. While the dough is chillin’, peel and slice your apples, and toss them with the apple filling ingredients.

You can eat a few, but remember: They're FOR THE PIE!

You can eat a few, but remember: They’re FOR THE PIE!

And now, it’s time to hate me a little. Take the pie crust out of the fridge and roll the first disk out. (the smaller of the two if they’re uneven) Lightly dust a sheet or parchment paper, and dust the dough, too. You’ll want about a 10 inch round. Transfer the rolled out crust by picking up the parchment paper and flipping it over into the pie pan. OR, you can try and roll it around the rolling pin and transfer it that way. I tried both, and I found the former easier. This is how mine landed in the pan:

Womp.

Womp.

But don’t throw it out the window, all is not lost!

For this is a magical pie crust that you can gently pinch back together as if nothing went wrong.

For this is a magical pie crust that you can gently pinch back together as if nothing went wrong.

In goes the apple filling

In goes the apple filling, after a brush of egg whites to keep the crust from getting soggy.

and the top crust, which you'll roll out and transfer the same way you did the bottom. It's brushed with egg whites, and sprinkled with coconut sugar, too.

and the top crust, which you’ll roll out and transfer the same way you did the bottom. It’s brushed with egg whites, and sprinkled with coconut sugar.

And it’s ready for the oven! At this point, your kitchen should look something like this:

the kitchen will get remodeled, someday.

Make sure the sink is full of dishes, too. 

All that’s left to do is wait. (and clean) Please note: The following recipe is based on several attempts to get the desired result. There are potentially endless possibilities for substitutions, but without trying them (which I just don’t have time for), I cannot speak to how they will change the recipe. If you want or need to make substitutions, please do, and let me know in the comments how it turned out! 

Paleo Apple Pie

For the crust:

3 cups almond flour
1 cup arrowroot powder, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar , plus more for sprinkling
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

3 pounds apples (about 8 medium), I used granny smiths and gala
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon

You will also need aluminum foil, parchment paper, and a pie pan

 

Crust instructions:

 Preheat oven to 350.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot, coconut sugar, and salt. Stir to combine with a whisk.
  2. Cut the butter into smaller chunks (see above) and add it to the dry mixture. Cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. Set aside. You’re saving them to brush on the crust.
  5. Add the wet ingredients (NOT the egg whites) to the dry, and stir / cut in until incorporated.
  6. Gather the dough into 2 balls and form into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. (meanwhile, prepare the apple filling, below)
  7. Once the apples are cut and mixed with the other ingredients, remove the crust from the fridge. If one is slightly smaller than the other, start with that one. To roll out the dough, dust a piece of parchment paper with arrowroot, and dust the dough as well. Roll out into a 10 inch round. Transfer to the pie pan by picking it up with the parchment paper, and flipping it into the pan. Pinch together, as necessary.
  8. Brush the bottom crust with egg whites.
  9. Pour the apple filling into the bottom crust and arrange to be as even as possible.
  10. Repeat step 6 with the top crust. Pinch and fold the edges together to form the outside edge. Brush with egg whites liberally, and sprinkle with coconut sugar. You will have extra egg whites. You can either toss them or save them for making pizza or plantain tortillas

Filling instructions:

  1. Peel and core the apples and slice them into 1/4-1/3 inch slices.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and arrowroot powder.
  3. Continue with step 6, above.

Baking instructions:

  1. Bake in the center rack of your oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Loosely cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake another 30 minutes.
  3. Allow the pie to cool before cutting.
And of course, top with whipped cream, coconut whipped cream, or ice cream.

And of course, top with whipped cream, coconut whipped cream, or ice cream.

 

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37 Comments

  1. Just to clarify – do the egg whites get added in the “wet ingredients” phase, or are they reserved just for brushing the crust? This look AWESOME!!!!

    • Yes, Egg whites only get brushed on the inner crust and the top. You’ll have much more than you need, which I should add to the post so people aren’t wondering!

  2. Please please post if anyone attempts a dairy free version! I don’t think coconut oil would sub well, but maybe palm shortening or even fresh rendered lard? Curious!

    • I would think the closest sub would be ghee (if casein, not dairy itself is the issue) and my next guess would be a combo of shortening and lard, maybe half and half. Let me know if you try and variations!

    • Suzette, I used half palm shortening (chilled), and half ghee to replace the butter. For me, casein is the problem (not dairy itself) so ghee works for me… Anyway, it tastes delish!

  3. Ok, I’m so glad I saw this on the way to the grocery store. Hooray! Apple pie tonight!

  4. I must say, this was a pretty dang fun read. And then at the end there’s pie TOO!!

    This has “go to” recipe written all over it. Thanks for that!

  5. LOVE…the KITCHEN SHOT!!!!! Mine looks VERY similar to yours post-baking…and the “dirty dishes” in the sink?—Check!!….Obviously SO worth it to obtain your perfection results…Thank you for my new and improved PALEO Apple Pie…Cannot wait to roll up my sleeves and get to it!!!

  6. oh my god is that crust finicky. i think that was the most traumatic pie making experience i’ve ever had. :(

    • :( I know, it’s a tough one! You saw the picture of my attempt of getting it in the pan, right? I was a bit traumatized about that one. I have vivid memories of my mom cursing in the kitchen making pies. We had pretty close to scientific proof that the more difficult the crust was to work with, the better the pie came out. I hope this one worked that way for you!

  7. The crust was a little more difficult to work with, but worth it! The bottom crust wasn’t too bad, but the top crust was more difficult because I couldn’t piece it back together when there was nothing solid underneath it to press it into. So mine wasn’t as pretty as yours, but super delicious! And now I’m thinking of all the other amazing things I could make with that crust. It almost had a graham cracker taste to me (which is my favorite) so I may try to roll it out and bake it into graham crackers!

  8. Made this tonight and it was great. Excellent recipe ! (I did mess up with the crust and added the egg whites but it still came out fine). Thank you thank you thank you

  9. Bill, I did the same thing and it made my dough too wet and extremely hard to work with. Just put it in the oven so we’ll see how it turns out. Thanks for all the hard work to put this up!

  10. Trying rolling it out on a piece of parchment or waxed paper, then just flip that sucker over into the pie pan. Ta-da!!!

  11. Whoever coined the term “easy as pie” must have been cooking with gluten! Grain-free pie crusts are just plain difficult… I’ve tried a couple of different recipes… And this one is no exception. However, the taste is spot-on! My pie doesn’t look pretty (I had to patch and press the crusts together on both the top and the bottom) but it is delicious. The crust is so flaky and crisp (but tender)… Great recipe!

    PS — I used a combination of half ghee, half palm shortening to replace the butter.

    • Seriously! Even conventional pie crusts… Not easy! My mom used to swear up a storm making pie crusts out of wheat flour. We had a joke that the more she swore, the better the pie came out ;) At any rate, sorry it was stressful, but glad the end result was good! Happy to hear it worked with ghee and shortening, too!

  12. could you specifically call out that the eggs whites are to be reserved for crust brushing in the actual recipe? we included all of them with the direction to “add the wet ingredients”. tried adding more flour, chilling for longer, but we never got the crust to work since it was a soupy mess. we don’t have enough ingredients on hand to try again. only figured out where we went wrong by reading the comments – wish it was noted in the recipe instead. :(

    • It says “egg whites separated” in the ingredients list, and then specifies to add the egg yolks to the crust in the instructions, as well as to beat the egg whites in another small bowl. I’m happy to make changes, but please let me know how I can make this more clear than I already have; I obviously posted it the way I thought it made sense. Sorry it didn’t work out for you, and I appreciate the feedback.

  13. I read a lot of food blogs and I just stumbled across yours today, again. I really appreciate the behind-the-scenes kitchen scene! I cook *All Day Long* it seems sometimes and my kitchen looks like that after every major enterprise (breakfast, lunch, dinner, pie….).

    Nice looking pie! One thing that might help if everyone is getting hung up on the crust is to maybe make the top a crumble crust, after rolling out the bottom crust (which is easier to repair and hides the flaws). I’ll have to try this in a few weeks after we’re done with our current round of apple pie goodness.

  14. This was so good! Made it last night and ate some for breakfast too ;) I unintentionally left the “flour” and butter mixture sitting out for a couple of hours and the butter became soft. But this seemed to make rolling it (on the parchment paper) easier. No trouble at all flipping it into the pan — I laid a metal pie dish on top of the rolled-out dough and flipped that way.

    We didn’t have any lemons and I think the apple filling definitely needs that tartness. Perfect thickening with the arrowroot, though. I like to add orange zest to my usual wheat-crust apple pie so might try that with this crust next time. Now I’m curious how adding walnut meal to the almond meal would work out. Maybe walnuts burn too fast? Thanks for a great recipe!

  15. I have been searching for a paleo pie crust, and am confused with your recipe. Always thought butter was an absolute no-no on the paleo plan???

    • I’m not sure what “paleo plan” you’re looking talking about, but a lot of paleo recipes include butter, or more often, ghee, which has the casein removed, leaving just the fat. I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach, so please make any changes that coincide with your health goals. I, for one, consumer copious amounts of butter, and am not 100% anything. :)

  16. I seriously missed my special Thanksgiving apple pie since going paleo, but no more! Your recipe is absolute perfection. I replaced the butter with half duck fat (for flavor) and half palm shortening (for texture) in the crust only because I can not tolerate dairy at all and duck eggs instead of chicken. I even had enough leftover dough to throw together a couple of hand-pies with leftover cranberry sauce. So yummy!

  17. I want to make this, but didn’t want to mess with my usual amazing wheat pie crust over the holiday. I always find a little lard added to crust makes it amazing. What do you think about substituting a couple Tbsps. of lard for the butter in this recipe?

    • I think lard is always a good choice for pie crust! I would definitely go for it. Let me know how it turns out.

  18. I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit in my family! They were none the wiser that it was Gluten-free and actually healthy! I loved the fact that it wasn’t super sweet, like some pies that I’ve had in the past. The pie crust was a little tricky, as most people stated, but it was really easy to fix. Also loved the fact that I had all the ingredients on hand. The only ingredient/product that I used differently was Honeyville Almond Flour, which worked great due to it’s super fine texture (even though I still sift). Thanks for sharing a fabulous and healthy recipe! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • Thanks Judy! And that’s the goal: being able to serve any of my recipes to people who don’t follow a gluten-free or paleo diet without them knowing the difference. I love hearing success stories, so thank you!

      And I use almond flour too, but have started using the Digestive Wellness brand instead of Honeyville. It’s just as finely ground as Honeyville. So any recipes that state almond flour, assume it’s the finely ground blanched variety, as opposed to almond meal.

  19. Hello :)
    I was going try doing this pie for Christmas but my husband is not fond of apple. Is it possible to do mixed berry instead? Has anyone tried to sub the filling? Let me know. Look forward to hearing from you.
    Patricia

    • Hi Patricia! The only thing I’d be concerned about would be the moisture content making the crust soggy, but if you brush the inside crust with egg whites, that should help! I also have a recipe for strawberry pie with a shortbread crust; it’s a bit more sturdy… Take a look and see if you could maybe combine the two recipes to get the result you’re looking for.

  20. I was going to make this today but I have something in my oven for the next 4 hours. Do you think completely assembled this would freeze well until I can put it in the oven? Another solution, freeze or refrigerate the pie and filling separately? I know you may not have experience with doing this, but just looking for your thoughts on how it might turn out :) thanks!

    • I can be more confident saying that refrigerating the crust and filling separately will work than the freezer idea, but that might work too! Let me know how it turns out!

  21. I used tapioca flour instead of arrowroot. Turned out great! Delicious recipe! The crust was not easy but homemade pie crust never is.

  22. I have to send a HUGE Thank You out to you and your brilliant recipe!!

    I made this apple pie for Thanksgiving today (I’m Canadian, eh) and was so impressed by how everything looks and smells… I can’t wait to cut into it and enjoy.

    The crust, unlike what most said, was easy to do and looks absolutely beautiful! I commend you for creating such a masterpiece! (It’s difficult to create but easy to criticize.) My father-in-law was a professional baker and he’d be proud! The dough was so much like the “real thing”.

    Thanks again!
    Kelly

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