The first cookbook I ever owned was called The Vegetarian Epicure (1972) by Anna Thomas. It was 1979 and I had just moved out of my parents’ home into my own tiny bachelor apartment in Marpole. The rent was $210 a month and I made $700 a month at the job my dad got me at a law firm in downtown Vancouver. My first grown-up extravagance was to join one of those book-of-the-month clubs, but this particular club was a budget version and called something like “Paperback-of-the-Month Club.” For the most part, I didn’t actually choose my monthly selection; rather, I would forget to mail it in and would therefore receive the default paperback-of-the-month chosen for the slacker members, which is how I ended up with…
Oddly, though I was not vegetarian at the time, the book intrigued me. I imagined a life as an urban hippy, eating tofu and making things like homemade bread and my own sauerkraut, none of which came to pass, of course.
I did, however, make one recipe–something called a Pizza Rustica–for my very first grown-up “dinner party” (to which I invited my parents and boyfriend at the time). The dish itself is a cross between a savoury pie and a pizza: the first step was to make a pie crust with whole wheat flour. The directions warned one to add absolutely NO MORE than three tablespoons of water to the pie dough. I recall painfully patching together a dry, cracked crust into a pie plate. I’m sure it was quite inedible, but my parents gamely ate it and proclaimed it delicious (it was not). My boyfriend was not so kind.
I gave away or lost the book at some point, but came across a used copy a few years ago and bought it for nostalgia’s sake. The book is now part of my extensive collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks.
And, ironically enough, I now live that hippy life my twenty-two-year-old self imagined (minus the “urban”)–eating tofu and making homemade bread and sauerkraut.
The Pizza Rustica experience, however, scarred me from ever attempting pie crust again. Add to that the fact that I am a sadly inadequate maker of desserts–mostly because I always try to replace or reduce the fat and sugar. But I can no longer bear to see that look of disappointment on James’ face as he bites into one of my “cookies” that is actually a vegan health bar. Plus, I’ve been feeling of late that James always has to make the dessert when we have people in for a meal, and it’s just not fair! So I have decided to become halfway decent at dessert making, starting with my bête noire…THE PIE!
I will have to perfect my pie-making game by next summer, however, because Bid is a master pie-maker and I can’t embarrass myself at our summertime Friday Feasts!
So…after extensive research, I settled upon Anna Olson’s pie crust method, which is to add three tablespoons of vegetable oil to the dry ingredients before adding the butter. I substituted vegan butter for dairy butter, and I also made the dough in the food processor, rather than by hand or in the stand mixer. The resulting dough is lovely and smooth and a dream to roll out!
Anna does make the stipulation that IF one replaces the butter with vegetable Crisco or coconut oil (or any other kind of solid oil), the cup must be reduced by three tablespoons because butter is 80% fat, while the aforementioned products are 100% fat. Fortunately, President’s Choice Vegan Butter is also 80% fat, so can be used interchangeably with butter.
For the pie-filling, I made this amazing sauce from Natasha’s Kitchen, but replaced the butter with the PC vegan butter as well. Other than that, I made no changes!
Vegan Apple Pie
First, make the crust.
Combine in a food processor and pulse a couple of times:
- 375 grams white AP flour
- 12 grams white sugar
- 6 grams salt (if using salted vegan butter, eliminate the salt)
Run the food processor and drizzle in:
- 3 TBS vegetable oil
Stop the food processor and add:
- 225 grams cold PC unsalted vegan butter, cut in one-inch cubes (if using vegetable Crisco or coconut oil, use 185 grams)
Pulse four or five times–until the butter is pea-sized. Then stream in:
- ¼ cup cold water mixed with…
- 2 tsp white vinegar
When the dough forms into a shape (not really a ball), dump onto a clean surface, pull together into a roundish shape, cut into two equal portions, and shape into two disks. Wrap each disk in saran wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
NEXT, make the sauce.
Melt in a saucepan:
- 115 grams unsalted vegan butter
Add and whisk until blended and shiny (about one minute):
- 25 grams of AP flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Whisk until well mixed, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about three minutes. Set aside.
NEXT, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then peel and thinly slice:
- 1 KG. apples (Gala and Honeycrisp are good varieties for pie)
Sprinkle apples with and mix well:
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
By the time you’ve made the sauce and peeled and sliced the apples, your pie crust should be sufficiently chilled.
Pour the sauce over the apples and mix well.
Roll out your bottom crust and place in a floured glass nine-inch pie plate.
Pour the apples and sauce into the crust, and pile high toward the middle.
Roll out your top crust and place over top; trim and crimp the edge and make little slices in the top crust. If you want the crust to look shiny and brown, mix together 1 TBS each maple syrup and almond milk and brush over the crust.
Place the pie on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 45 minutes. Let the pie sit for at least an hour before serving!
This method is truly foolproof–and I would know because I’m the fool! It’s a bit time-consuming, but that’s honestly mostly the peeling and slicing of the apples. And it’s absolutely worth the time and effort!!
And so I give you my new go-to dessert! The Amazingly Delicious Foolproof Vegan Apple Pie!
And the song of the day is Ray LaMontagne’s “Such a Simple Thing” because I love the way he sings, “…somehow…some how.”
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