Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan Caramel-Apple Pie with Gingerbread Crust

There is something about my pies that I need to work the kinks out of, so to speak. My pie crusts have often not held up like a proper pie. A proper slice holds its own, not collapsing in on itself when you're trying to take a particularly attractive picture of it, right? I need to work on that. My pies taste good, but they don't look good, and if I want people to eventually buy this stuff, I need to tweak the recipes so that these pies look as good as they taste.
My pie just doesn't hold its own. I tried to pretend it was cobbler (shhh! don't tell it's really just attractiveness-impaired pie). I also had someone assisting with this pie who wanted to show me that he could make a basketweave pie crust top. Whether or not he succeeded is up to you to decide.
Also, I need to replace some light bulbs in the kitchen. It is not doing these pictures of my pie slash cobbler any favors.
But anyway...on to the actual pie.

Vegan Caramel-Apple Pie
The Crust
Best part. I need to re-work the recipe to make just a wee bit more dough so I can attempt a real, non-meddled with basketweave next time with a little more dough. I have also heard to chill as many of the ingredients and utensils used in making a pie as possible beforehand. The bowl, the fork, everything...next pie, I will try this and see if it improves the crust at all. Taste-wise, the crust was delicious, and the recipe a keeper.
First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then sift 1.5 C flour, 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1 t. ginger, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. allspice, 1/2 t. salt and 1 t. baking powder. Add 1/2 C. softened margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time, cutting it in with a knife. Then drizzle in 1 T. molasses and 2 T. cold water and mix the ingredients with your fingers just till the dough clings into a ball.
Set aside 1/2 a cup of dough and kneaded the pieces into balls. Press the larger bit into a pie pan and bake in the over for 10 minutes.

The Filling
I have found a lot of conflicting ways to cut the apples to put in the pie. Some recipes want you to slice thin pieces, others want you to cube the apples or cut them in thicker slices. Which way do any of you out there prefer your apple pie filling?
For this recipe I cut slightly thick slices, which I would make thinner next time. All taste testers agreed the apples could be a little mushier.
Take 4 granny smith apples and cut them into slices. Sautee the slices in 2 T. margarine for five minutes. Remove them from the heat and toss the slices with 1 T. flour and 1/4 C. sugar. Set aside.
Now, since the apples end up getting caramel sauce poured on them, I debated whether or not I should omit the 1/4 sugar. I think I ended up tossing the apples in roughly half that.

The Caramel Sauce
Worst part of the recipe for me. I winged it a little, which was in hindsight a bad idea. I also wasted a lot of sugar and margarine in the process. For some reason I always think that cornstarch is a suitable equivalent for arrowroot, and sometimes it is. But when making something as tricky as vegan caramel sauce -- I should have just dragged my ass to Whole Foods and sucked it up. But instead I thought, as I have thought at least several times before in my pie-making past, 'No no, cornstarch is like practically the same thing. No need to make an extra trip when you can be lazy!'. Disaster, always. The sauce ended up not gelling properly, and was a soupy mess. I still put some in the pie, however, and it tasted fine. I was afraid it might soak the pie crust, but it didn't. Next time if I can succeed in making it a little gooier, it will be an amazing sauce...I just need to play around with recipes and find a good balance.
Combine 1/4 C. soy milk and 2 T. cornstarch; whisk and set aside. Melt 1/2 C. margarine in saucepan and stir in 2 C. brown sugar. Add 1/2 C. soy milk. Boil for four minutes, stirring. Add milk/arrowroot mixture after taking the saucepan off of the heat. 

The Assembly
Pour apples and caramel sauce into pie crust. Top pie with the remaining ball of pie dough and cover with tin foil. Bake 35-40 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve with vegan ice cream.

Overall a pie worth experimenting with. Expect the caramel-apple pie with gingerbread crust saga to continue...

Up next: Kalamata-feta bread!

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