If Jack Horner had been visiting my home over the Thanksgiving weekend, he would have had crabapple on his thumb rather than a plum.
It was Miss Muffet’s idea, this crabapple pie experiment. Believe you me, I entered it with some trepidation. First of all, I had never even thought of turning those tiny sour orbs into a pie filling. I thought of all the time I would have to spend quartering those little suckers, too – it wouldn’t be a quick prep. But my greatest fear? How on earth was I going to create a gluten free pie crust?!
I’ve done a LOT of gluten free baking, but a pie crust? A gluten free pie crust is the Achilles’ heel of many a gluten free baker. I had read too many horror stories of gluten free pie crusts that had either burned, becoming hard and brittle, or that had become chewy and dense. We don’t eat a lot of sweets in our house anyway, so why go there?
Miss Muffet… that’s why. A few weeks ago, we were hanging out in the front yard under “Adah,” a crabapple tree named for one of the little girls who once lived in our home. She and her family had planted this tree a few years before we had moved in – now, it was loaded with little crabapples.
Miss Muffet and Bo Peep picked 6 lbs of crabapples that afternoon. That night, I made a delicious compote of crabapples and our honey to go along with some grilled pork chops and garden veggies.
What would we do with the rest of them? “Crabapple pie,” Miss M directed.
Several days went by, and I hoped the Crabapple Pie Proclamation would pass, but it didn’t. Miss Muffet continually reminded me of this great idea of hers for WEEKS.
So, the afternoon before our Thanksgiving meal, I sat with a glass of wine and a bucket of crabapples while the girls took a nap. I proceeded to cut…
Which is why this crabapple pie recipe is actually a crabapple-apple pie recipe.
And it turned out the better for it. I adapted an apple pie filling recipe from “Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies,” substituting half of the apples with crabapples. It created a delicious apple pie, punctuated with bursts of tartness from the more crunchy crabapples.
And when it came time for dessert after the Thanksgiving meal, what was Miss Muffet’s reaction? She just wanted her new gluten free candy canes, of course.
Oh, little four-year-old. Why art thou so fickle?
**Note added November 2013: If a gluten free pie crust from scratch sounds intimidating, I highly recommend a ready dough mix from Moon Rabbit Foods. Their pie dough mix is not only superior to any gluten free crust that I’ve made from scratch, but it is easier to work with as well. And it’s made in a dedicated gluten free facility in the mountains of Western North Carolina!
- 3 cups quartered crabapples, any variety
- 3 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples (or other tart apple)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar, plus 1 Tbsp reserved
- 3 Tbsp GF Multipurpose Flour, plus 2 tsp reserved
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a 9-inch pie plate with one GF pie crust.
- In a large bowl, add the apples and lemon juice, tossing to coat slices well.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the brown sugar, GF flour, and spices. Add the GF flour mixture to the apples, stirring well to coat the slices.
- Spoon filling into crust. Top with second pie crust in manner you prefer. (Because this gluten free pie crust crumbles easily, I chose to cut the crust into slices, arranging them to mimic a basket-weave pattern).
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. While pie is baking, cut butter into small bits and mix with the reserved brown sugar and GF flour.
- When pie bake time is complete, sprinkle brown sugar mixture over top and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.