Cran-Apple Crumble Pie

Confession: I like pie.

But really...who doesn't? Growing up, my Great Uncle was obsessed with my mother's baking. Throughout the year, if we went to visit, we were usually bringing a pie...or two, or three. Coconut custard, pumpkin, apple - you name it. She always made her own pie crusts, even when those rolled up pre-made ones could be readily found in the chilled section of the supermarket. When I was in high school, I decided I was no longer a fan of Birthday Cake. So instead, I requested Birthday Pie every year.

I was having a bit of a crisis when I realized I might not be able to make or even enjoy pie for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Pumpkin...apple...pecan...Mmmmmmm delish! I tried to make a pie when I first started cooking gluten-free. I found a gluten-free pie crust recipe online and thought I'd give it a go. I wanted to make my grandmother-in-law's famous Sweet Rhubarb Pie (perhaps I'll post that recipe another time...). Let's just say it was a bit of an EPIC FAIL. The dough got too tough and stuck like crazy to my Pyrex pie plate. All I kept hearing all day was, "Well - it tastes really good!" 

Which is essentially code for, "Nice try, but you failed!"

Needless to say, I had been too nervous to try again. Until now. A couple months ago, my husband and I were invited to a Scotch tasting party at a friends house. The wife of the couple went to culinary school and had prepared some delicious appetizers to go along with said Scotch. She knew that I was gluten-free and had made her mini quiches with a gluten-free crust. 

I had died and gone to heaven. They were incredible - flaky, tender, everything a pie crust should be. And gluten-free to boot! I just had to have that recipe. She wrote down the list of ingredients with their measurements on an index card and tucked it into my purse before I left.

She used store-bought King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour blend for her crust. I make my own flour blend that I use for the majority of my baked goods. This basic blend, developed by Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, can be found here on their blog: Gluten Free Flour Blend. (P.S. you have to scroll down a bit to find it, and those rhubarb muffins? Try them!!) The only gluten-free blend I do not recommend is Bob's Red Mill. Don't get me wrong, I love Bob's products, in fact I use quite a few of them in my kitchen. However, their all-purpose mix contains garbanzo bean flour, and there's something off about the taste when used in sweet baked goods. That's also the flour I used in my initial pie baking attempt, so call it a gut feeling.

This Cran-Apple Crumble Pie was a total hit. If I hadn't told the guests it was gluten-free, they swear they never would have known. My best friend even asked for the recipe to have on hand when her gluten-free cousin comes to visit! This pie is a great addition to a holiday table - not too sweet with just a hint of tartness from the cranberries. You can certainly add more nuts to the topping in place of the oats, or more oats if you cannot have nuts.

I now have a fail-proof gluten-free pie crust recipe - and I'm sharing it with you! (Should come in handy for all the frozen blackberries and rhubarb that are still buried in my chest freezer from last Spring.....) 

Disclaimer: Please make sure to read this recipe thoroughly prior to starting. The dough needs at least one hour to chill out in the fridge before you use it. It's also much easier if you have all your ingredients out, prepped, and ready to go, as this recipe has a lot of parts and steps.

Cran-Apple Crumble Pie

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours (additional time to chill dough)

Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours

Yields: 8 generous servings

For the Dough:
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Light Butter (stick - try Land O'Lakes)
  • 1 Egg, large
  • Cold Water, as needed

For the Crumble:
  • 3/4 cup Gluten-free Flour
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice (see note at bottom to make your own!)
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Light Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Old-fashioned Oats

For the Filling:
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm Apples - peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (I recommend Honeycrisp)
  • 6 oz. Cranberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
  • 2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp Gluten-free Flour
  • 1 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp Light Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Spray a 9 or 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

Make Pie Dough:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, salt, sugar, and xanthan gum; pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter chunks to mixture, making sure to space out evenly around the bowl. Pulse until mixture resembles small pebbles and butter is well distributed.
  3. Add egg and process until combined. The dough will not look or behave like traditional pie dough - it will look more like a thick batter that is spread all over the bowl. If dough is too dry and crumbly, add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time until dough comes together. DO NOT add too much water! Dough will be slightly stickier than a traditional pie crust dough made with regular flour. Resist the urge to add more flour!
  4. Remove contents of bowl and form the dough into a disk. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour, or until ready to use.
Make Crumble Topping:
  1. Stir together flour, brown sugar, apple pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Add butter chunks and blend with a fork or pastry cutter into mixture resembles small pebbles.
  3. Stir in pecans and oats until combined; chill in fridge until ready to use.
Make Filling:
  1. Stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, apple pie spice, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl; set aside until ready to use.
Putting it All Together...
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Lightly flour your countertop or baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the pie dough to fit your pie plate (about a 13-inch round). Fit dough into plate and cut back edges to 1/2-inch. Crimp edges with fingers.
  3. Pour the fruit filling carefully into the prepared pie crust. Dot with remaining chunks of butter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  4. Place in oven (on a cookie sheet if you wish, just in case the liquid bubbles over) and bake until apples begin to "droop" or settle - about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove pie from oven and reduce temperature to 375°F. Remove foil and sprinkle crumble topping over fruit. Bake, uncovered, until topping has browned and filling is bubbling around the edges - another 30-35 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure crust is not getting too brown.
  6. Allow pie to cool completely for 2-3 hours prior to serving.
*Recipe adapted from Epicurious*
~ Notes:
  • For homemade Apple Pie Spice, combine: 2 tsp ground Cinnamon, 1 tsp ground Nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground Allspice, and 1/2 tsp ground Cardamom; store in an airtight container.
  • Pie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance; store in fridge until ready to use.
  • Pie can be made 1 day in advance and kept at room temperature, loosely covered, until ready to serve.

Happy gluten-free baking!

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