When I met my first pie, and I fell in love


Many years ago, even before I ever thought I could move to this country, my family and I stopped to visit some friends in New Jersey during our first trip to the United States. Mary Jo had met my father’s business partner some thirty years earlier, and they had stayed in touch all that time. She and her husband Paul live in a beautiful part of New Jersey, in a stunning home, with luscious gardens and tastefully decorated interiors. They love to travel, and their home tells a million stories they have heard and encountered.

That day, with their Mexican friend playing guitar and singing in their garden, I tasted my first pie. Mary Jo’s son had made the most delicious apple pie. Tender crust, tart apples: it wasn’t too sweet, and it perfectly combined the softness of the fruit and the nice bite of the crust. I was speechless and enjoyed every bite.

In Italy we don’t have pie. We do have savory quiche, we have strudel, but pie, well, that’s something else. I asked for the recipe and tried it at home a few times. But when I came to this country, and finally had my own kitchen, I read about and experimented with all kinds of pie: apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate cream, pecan…

At my last class, some students asked me for a pie class during the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only pie class I ever held was in the summer. Later, last month, a reader of my blog asked me for a pie crust recipe. So, here I am.

I made a pie crust following the recipe of Gesine Bullock Prado. I own all her books and I decided to use one of her recipes in Pie It Forward. If you have a different pie crust recipe, and would like to experiment with it, please do so, using my flour at a 1:1 ratio. And remember that you can email me anytime with any questions – simonaglutenfree@gmail.com. For the apple filling I followed the outstanding recipe of the Best Apple Pie, from my beloved King Arthur Flour cookbook.

Before we start, I would like to share a little trick that will make your life easier when you roll out a gluten-free pie crust. Because there is no fear that too much gluten develops from rolling the crust out, you can easily place your crust between two sheets of plastic wrap. Once you reach the desired thickness, you can remove a sheet and place you hand under the other, flipping the crust on your pie dish and on your filling, if you have one. No more messy transfers from the counter to the pan.

Gluten-free Apple Pie

For a double 9″ crust
Simona’s Flour Mix                   2 cups and 1 Tablespoon (320 gr)
Salt                                                1 teaspoon (6 gr)
Sugar                                             1 Tablespoon (15 gr)
Unsalted butter, chilled            1 cup (2 sticks, 225 gr)
Ice water                                      1/2 cup (120 ml)
Apple cider vinegar                   1 teaspoon (5 ml)

For the filling
Cortland or other baking apples        3 1/4 pounds (about 9 whole apples, 10 cups) peeled, cored and sliced
Granulated sugar                                  3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz)
Apple pie spice                                      1 1/2 teaspoon
(if you don’t have apple pie spice, use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and allspice)
Apple cider                                            1/4 cup (2 oz)
Cornstarch                                             1/4 cup (1 oz)
Salt                                                          1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla extract                                      2 teaspoons
Juice of 1/2 lemon                               (about 2 tablespoons, or 1 oz)

To finish
Heavy cream                                       2 Tablespoons
Turbinado sugar                                as needed

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt, then cut in the butter until crumbly. Drizzle vinegar and just enough iced water over the mixture to make it cohesive, tossing till it begins to come together. Gather it into a ball, divide in half, flatten each half slightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, in plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the filling ingredients, mixing till well-combined. Set aside.

Roll one piece of pie crust into a 12-inch round, and lay it gently into a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in the filling. Roll out the other piece, lay it atop the filling, and seal and crimp the edges. With a sharp knife, make some slits on the top of the crust, in a decorative pattern. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle it with turbinado sugar.

Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F, and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and filling is bubbly.


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