What is fall without a good old apple pie? Except I’d prefer to use a healthier alternative in the crust; so much artery-clogging fat in butter. And getting the pie out of the pie pan is always messy…What to do? Make vegan hang pies of course!
I used to be deathly afraid to make pie dough. It is so fragile, one misstep and it is ruined. And vegan pie dough? Forget it. I probably watched hours of videos on how to make the perfect pie dough but very few people address the question of the vegan pie crust dilemma. So I thought: “Why not make regular pie dough but have coconut oil as the fat? ” Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have reached pie dough success. Not only is this pie crust vegan, it is also healthier and just as delicious as regular (butter) pie crust.
Now to the second problem; how to get the pie out of the pie pan. I don’t want to have the first piece fall apart – apple pie is precious! How about eliminating the pie pan all together? Sure! So, I set out to make hand pies. Just as I was all set to go, I discovered that the cinnamon, that I could swear was in the shopping cart earlier today, had disappeared. All I had left was a tiny bit in the cinnamon shaker. I was devastated. You know that feeling when you’re all ready to make something just to realize you can’t? Annoying. Then I vaguely remembered Jamie Oliver talking about the ways of the Northern Europeans and how they put fennel seeds in their pies instead of cinnamon. I gave it a go and dear Jamie did not disappoint.
Ingredients for the filling :
2-3 tart and sweet apples (depends on the size,) cored, peeled, and chopped
1/3 c cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (for more flavor and to prevent apples from browning)
Directions for the filling:
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan.
2. Cook on medium heat until apples and cranberries are a little bit softened. This will speed up the baking process and make the filling more delicious.
3. Set aside to cool.
Ingredients for the crust:
3/4 c all purpose flour, chilled ( I ran out of healthier alternatives!)
1/4 c whole wheat flour, chilled
1/4 heaping cup of coconut oil, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 tbsp ice water
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, cold
Xylose coconut sugar for sprinkling
Direction for the crust:
1. Mix all the flours with salt and chill for about 20 minutes or longer.
2. Place the flour in the food processor and pulse to combine the dry ingredients once again.
3. Add the cold coconut oil to the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
4. Mix the ice water with vinegar. Start adding this mixture while the food processor with the flour and oil is going. Add slowly because it is very easy to add too much liquid. Stop pouring the liquid when the dough JUST comes together. It shouldn’t be wet, only slightly moist and still a bit crumbly. My dough needed about 4 tbsp of the mixture this time but yours might need less or more. This depends on many factors such as the temperature of your kitchen, humidity, etc.
5. Turn the dough on a large piece of parchment paper and pat into a ball. DO NOT knead the dough because kneading will develop gluten in the dough, which will make it elastic; not what you want for the pie crust.
6. Once the dough has been gathered together into a ball, press it a little bit to make a thick disk. Wrap in the parchment paper tightly and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes or longer.
7. Once the dough has been chilled take it out and flour a rolling pin. Start rolling out the dough gently. This is a very flaky and fragile dough, so be kind to it. Roll it away from you and turn 45 degrees, roll and turn, roll and turn. Roll it out until it is about 5 mm thin.
8. Grab a bowl of the diameter you want your pies to be, and cut out circles from the dough. Scrape all the loose ends, gather them into a ball (do not knead), wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate until you are ready to roll again.
Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
1. Grab one of the dough circles and stretch it out gently, do not rip.
2. Place 1.5 tbsp of filling onto the “closer to you” side of the circle, not too close to the edge.
3. With your finger, wet the “closer to you” edge of the circle with water. This will help the sides stick together.
4. Wrap the other half of the circle over the filling. Press as much air out of the pie as possible.
5. Using a fork, press the edges of the pie together with a rolling motion. Do not press too hard or the fork will puncture the pie.
6. Make some fork holes at the top of the pie, place on parchment paper and continue with other pies.
7. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius and then turn the oven down to 160 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 more minutes or until the pie is golden, and sizzling. About 3 minutes before the pie is done, sprinkle some Xylose Coconut sugar on top for better browning and a bit more sweetness.
8. Transfer to cooling rack for 20 minutes. This recipe makes 6 small hand pies.
This pie is the best pie I have ever made. The crust was perfect; flaky, fragrant, and delicious. The filling was slightly syrupy bit not runny. Chris described the pie as “one of those McDonald’s pies but way better”. I cannot wait to make more for Thanksgiving and Christmas. These hand pies are officially my new favorite fall dessert.
Some might wonder what is the advantage of using coconut oil over butter or shortening? While both butter and coconut oil are saturated fats (oh, no!) they are not equal. Butter is made up of long chain fatty acids which are really hard to digest and, in fact, increase cholesterol in our bodies. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which assimilate better in the body, aid digestion, and do not increase cholesterol. Lauric acid, which is also present in coconut oil, is converted to monolaurin in our bodies. Monolaurin is said to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Not to mention coconut oil tastes so good! So, if I am faced with the choice between animal, artery-clogging fat and plant digestion-aiding fat, I’ll choose the latter.
Now, you might say that shortening is a plant product, why not use it – it’s so easy! Shortening is a hydrogenated fat. Hydrogenated fats are chemically-altered, unnatural fats and are considered as toxins to our bodies. These toxic fats (trans-fats) can lead to cancer and diabetes, as well as obesity. That said, make sure to use non-hydrogenated coconut oil as well.
I hope you try this vegan pie crust as well as the fennel apple filling and enjoy the fall taste!
Love and light,