One more thing that I love about fall, besides the abundance of butternut squashes and pumpkins, is going apple picking. We used to go to The Elegant Farmer when I was younger, and I loved getting outside and picking my own food. I was so removed from knowing where my food came from, having only shopped for food at a local Pick 'N Save, that getting apples from an actual tree was such a novelty. I'm still pretty removed. I'm a city dweller and while I grew some herbs this summer and visited my local farmer's market a few times a month, the majority of my food still comes from a grocery store. So, I guess apple picking is still somewhat of a novelty for me.
Anyways, my boyfriend and I made the trek out the Michigan a few weekends ago to pick apples and drink some cider. It was a little disappointing because the only varieties available for picking were Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, which are usually my least favorite kind of apples. The Elegant Farmer usually had at least ten varieties to choose from, so maybe I'm spoiled. But, I have to say they were pretty tasty apples in any case. In the end we came home with about 5 pounds of apples, and at 80 cents a pound I think we made out pretty good.
Usually after apple picking, I come home and make a pie. You know, something delicious and full of butter or lard. This time, however, something was screaming inside of me to make a vegan pie. I am not well versed on vegan cooking, so a quick internet search showed that most recipes called for a soy-based margarine substitute instead of butter. I should let you all know right now that I am allergic to soy, so I have to stay away from any sort of un-natural dairy or meat substitutes. (More on this in a post to come. I have my opinions on these kinds of substitutes outside of my soy allergy.) Further research showed that Crisco and vegetable shortenings were an acceptable vegan substitute for butter or lard. I thought this was pretty awesome, since Crisco is familiar to me and I wouldn't have considered it as a proper vegan substitute. But closer inspection on the ingredient list showed this too contains soy. Thwarted again! But, on the other hand I had Crisco sitting in my cabinet just calling for me to use it. And I didn't think I would find another substitute for butter that didn't contain soy and since I already owned a container of Crisco I decided to ignore my soy allergy and use it. (So maybe I'm not the best at adhering to my soy allergy, but I am good at saving money.) Next time I'm just going with butter.
For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cups Crisco or other brand vegetable shortening
1/4 cup water
For the Filling:
3 pounds apples (such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Jonathan), peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz sugar
2 oz water + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 oz corn starch
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole all spice
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1/4 cup olive oil (or egg wash) for browning.
extra sugar for the top of the crust
For the dough:
1. Mix dry ingredients together and place in food processor. Add Crisco and water and mix until just combined.
2. Remove dough from processor and knead on a floured surface for one to minutes. Form into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for thirty minutes to an hour.
For the filling:
1. Place sugar in a clean saute pan and carefully pour 2 oz of water over the sugar until it dissolves. If need be add more sugar, but be careful to only add enough to make the sugar dissolve.
2. Cook over moderately high heat. Clean edges of pan gently with a clean pastry brush. Any crystals on the edge of the pan will destroy the caramel. Cook until the sugar becomes an amber color and immediately remove from heat.
3. Whisk in 2 tablespoons water to the caramel. Be careful this will cause the hot water to steam, but it will create a clear caramel sauce and stop the caramel from cooking further.
3. Pour caramel over sliced apples. Fold in the whiskey and the cornstarch.
4. Grind peppercorns, allspice, and cloves together in a spice grinder and add the spice mixture and the cinnamon to the apple mixture.
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two equal pieces. Roll out the first half on a floured surface until it is just longer than the pan you are using. (I recommend using a 9 inch pie pan, so in this case you should roll the dough out to 12 inch diameter.) The dough should be around 1/4 inch thick, so roll it out until its the desired thickness and diameter.
3. Carefully place in a greased pie pan, and prick the bottom of the dough with a knife. Fill with apples.
4. Roll out 2nd crust to a 13 inch diameter and 1/4 inch thickness. You should have just enough dough. Place it on top of the pie and crimp the two layers of dough together. Trim off any excess. Make decorative slits in the middle of the pie so steam can escape. If you desire you can make a lattice.
5. Brush with olive oil. (If you have decided not to go vegan use an egg wash. I think it helps the crust achieve a better browning than oil.) Sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
6. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the crust has become a beautiful golden brown color. If the edges of the crust are browning faster than the center you can wrap a little foil around the edges until the middle has browned.