Lent. The time of year for giving up things and being good. Unfortunately due to the nature of baking I've not giving anything up these past few years but my virtuous housemates have this year decided to go vegan, give up all refined sugar, caffeine AND alcohol. Sheesh.
So when they proposed I should do a spot of vegan, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free baking, I had to get my thinking cap on. The usual staples: butter, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder & vanilla extract were all out the window so I turned to fruits for inspiration. And then Pi day was upon us: 3.14 in the American calendar - just the start of the lovely infinite number describing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
So I devised an Apple Pi Pie for Pi Day and it has proved a massive success! If a vegan sceptic like me loves this, I guarantee you will too. As always, any questions be sure to tweet me @cakesmyth.
Ingredients - makes a 9" pie to serve 6 - 8
For the pastry
400g plain flour
2 tbsp cider vinegar
140g unrefined virgin coconut oil
9 tbsp ice water
For the filling
4 large Granny Smith apples
4 large golden delicious apples
110g date nectar (available in supermarkets by suger subsititues)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp unrefined virgin coconut oil
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp ground sweet cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine salt
A little almond milk for brushing
For the maple coconut cream (optional)
250g coconut cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
Lightly grease a 9-10" deep pie pan with a little coconut oil. In a food processor, blitz together the flour, vinegar and coconut oil until the larger pieces have broken down. Add the iced water and pulse until the dough comes together.
Tip the dough into a large bowl and knead gently until uniform and holding together. Add a little more water if too dry. Split the dough into 2 discs, flatten them and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Whilst chilling, make the filling! Peel and core the apples and cut into 1 cm wide wedges. Mix in a large bowl with the date nectar and lemon juice. Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy-based pan then add the apples and simmer gently until softened but holding their shape, around 10 minutes. Mix in the flour, cinnamon and salt until combined then set aside to cool completely.
Roll one piece of the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a circle just larger than the outer rim of your pie dish. Use a rolling pin to lift the dough onto the pie dish and gently press the corners into the dish. Trim off any excess pastry from the rim and save for decoration. Brush the pastry rim with a little almond milk.
Add the cooled filling to the pastry case then repeat the rolling out of the top layer of pastry and lay this over the filling. Press the edges tightly together all the way round and add any pastry decorative shapes or rims as you like. Poke a few holes in the top to let steam out then chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. Preheat the oven to fan 180 C.
Lightly brush with almond milk before placing on a baking tray in the oven for 1hr - 1hr 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Allow to cool before cutting.
Whisk together the coconut cream and maple syrup just before serving and serve alongside a big wedge of pie!