Last week we spent a few days in Istanbul – just a 4-hour flight away, it was the perfect escape. My lingering impression, other than how utterly delicious fresh Turkish Delight tastes, is of blue: Blue water, blue sky, blue mosque, blue air. Every morning was an early one, and while we waited in the semi-darkness for the first call to prayer of the day we felt the sweet breeze come through the open windows and listened to the raucous seagulls outside. We wore sweaters and took the ferry, drinking tea and munching on chewy, sesame seed-strewn ‘bagels’, drank thick and gritty cups of Turkish coffee, toured Ottoman-era palaces and ate flaky spinach pastry (with buttery, fruity cookies for dessert).
Upon our return, sobered and quiet from the terrible news from Europe, we found the weather in Riyadh had turned at last into what I can only describe as cool. Or at least: not hot. And so it feels natural on this sunny fall-feeling (!) day to start Thanksgiving planning a week out — this Friday I’ll go in search of a turkey, stock up on sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts if I can, plan when I’ll bake my pies and persimmon cake.
I’ll make a slight change this year from the traditional apple pie in that I will make a caramel apple pie, my love for all thing caramel being quite unabated. The crust here is naturally gluten-free and, in my opinion, not too awfully finicky although it does call for a combination of flours (oat/sweet white rice/brown rice). It is, however, more delicate than a pie crust made with all purpose flour so keep that in mind when you roll it out. It is completely acceptable to press the crust into the pan and if your top crust is likewise not ‘perfect’, don’t fret. This pie’s taste will make up for anything it lacks aesthetically.
Think crisp apples wrapped in a buttery pastry and bound with caramel sauce that contains a hint of maple syrup in a festive nod and also because I dearly love maple syrup. I adapted the recipe from williams-sonoma.com, one of my favorite sites for reliable, simple, and consistently stand-out recipes that always call for whole foods ingredients. And if you’re looking for even more, might I suggest my naturally gluten-free Thanksgiving ebook?
(And re that ebook, I’m putting the finishing touches on another one! for the naturally gluten-free holiday table, with a generous cookie section and a few very special desserts as well as a well-stocked table of contents for vegetable mains and sides. Link for that one coming soon.)
As is typical my Thanksgiving dinner will be comprised of healthy vegetable dishes plus the turkey, with nothing too heavy so that we may indulge a bit more come dessert time. This pie will certainly be served first.
I’ll be back next week with my menu and some thoughts on cooking a wholesome, healthy + happy feast.
If you are OK with gluten, try 1 1/4 cups spelt flour + 1 cup all purpose flour in place of the gluten-free flours.
Makes 8 servings.
For the crust
1 1/4 cups oat flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For the apples
4 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the caramel
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
To make the crust
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and flax seeds. Cut in the butter with your hands and/or a fork, rubbing and whisking the butter into the flours until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the buttermilk all at once, and stir until combined. Gather the mixture into a ball; you may add a bit more buttermilk if it is too dry and hard to hold together. Divide in half, wrap in plastic wrap, press into a 9-inch round, and then refrigerate the pastry rounds for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer 1 dough round to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish and gently press into the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim. Refrigerate the pie shell for 30 minutes. Keep the rest of the dough in the fridge until ready to use.
To prepare the apples
In a large Dutch oven or cast iron pan over medium heat, stir together the apples, honey, cinnamon, ginger and lemon juice. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the cornstarch.
To prepare the caramel
In a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and salt. Cook until the mixture is bubbling vigorously, about 9 minutes, stirring only during the first 2 to 3 minutes of cooking. Off the heat, carefully stir in 1/4 cup of the cream, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup cream. Let cool until just warm.
Heat an oven to 400°F.
Let the pie shell, cutouts and dough round stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the apple mixture and 3/4 cup of the caramel; reserve the remaining caramel for serving. Pour the apple filling into the pie shell and place the top crust over the pie. Trim the edges flush with the rim and press the top and bottom crusts together.
Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour; check the pie after 30 minutes and cover the top and edges with foil if they become too dark. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2 1/2 hours before serving. Warm the reserved caramel sauce and serve alongside the pie for drizzling.