Busy Baker’s Quick Apple Pie
I created this Quick Apple Pie recipe in honor of Pi Day. This year’s Pi Day was an extra-special occurrence… a once in a lifetime one, actually. March 14 (or 3/14) celebrates the mathematical constant of pi. Pi represents the ratio of circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. While it is often abbreviated as 3.14, pi has an infinite number of digits beyond the decimal point, starting with 3.14159. Last year’s Pi Day was special since it was 3/14/15, perfectly matching the first numbers past the decimal point of pi. Last year, hardcore math fans even started celebrating the day at exactly 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds. 🙂 But there’s a reason to celebrate this year too… math enthusiasts are calling today “Rounded Pi Day.” When rounding pi to the ten-thousandth (that’s four numbers past the decimal point), it comes out to 3.1416, matching this year’s date: March 14, 2016.
Maybe that’s enough about Pi Day. Let’s talk about Quick Apple Pi! This is almost too abstract to be called “apple pie”, yet the flavors are there in a sweetly simple, deconstructed way. This pie is not like an apple pie with a flaky crust and gooey filling that you’d find from a bakery or a grocery store, yet considering how quick and easy to make this, it’s such a rewarding dessert when it comes out of the oven. An unrelated odd but wonderful discovery is how tasty apple slices dipped in lemon are! The lemon juice gives the flavor of apple just enough sass to make it a wonderful snack, even as simple as it is.
In fact, a little story about how wonderful this Quick Apple Pie is. I took it out of the oven and brought it into a different room to photograph. I left the pie there after I finished for maybe 15 minutes, while I cleaned up the kitchen. When I returned to the other room, the pie had filled it with a delicate, persistent, fruity/floral fragrance that was beautiful in combination with the scent of its almond cookie base. Completely lovely.
Note: for those that see this Quick Apple Pie and think, “She must have used a slicer, I don’t have a slicer”… I will say that I used a mandolin for SOME of the slices, BUT I couldn’t quite get them thin enough on the mandolin! So I switched to free-handin’, and that worked wonders. The apple slices need to be thin enough to bend considerably, and the center ones are required to be abouuuuuut as thin as tissue paper. This is easier to do than it sounds, just shave a a bit with your knife on the flat cut side of an apple until you get a few slices that have a tiny bit of peel but are also transparently thin.
- 3 large apples (I used a combination of Gala and Granny Smith)
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup arrowroot flour
- 2 tbsp maple sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch finely-ground sea salt
- 2 tbsp chilled coconut oil, plus more for greasing pan
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg
- 2 handfuls almonds
- 2 tbsp maple sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease a cast iron skillet or round cake pan that’s 8” in diameter and set aside.
- Pulse the almond flour, arrowroot flour, two tablespoons of maple sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon and salt until combined. Add the cold coconut oil, and cut into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse sand. Add the egg and cold water and pulse again until a dough has formed. Remove from the food processor, and press the dough evenly into the bottom of the greased skillet. Set aside while you prepare the apple slices.
- Juice the lemon into a large shallow bowl. Hold the apple firmly with the stem up. Begin to slice very thinly, working from the outside toward the core. When you reach the core area, begin slicing from the other side toward the core in the same way as you began. Discard the thin, wide bit of apple core area leftover. Halve all of the thin apple slices to make half-moons instead of rounds.
- Place the apple slices in the lemon juice to soak. The lemon juice will also prevent the apple slices from browning to the extent that they otherwise would. Repeat the process of slicing and soaking until you have finished all three apples. Begin layering the apple slices on top of the almond cookie dough in the skillet, gently pressing the flat side of the apple slices' half moons into the dough, and bending them to follow the curve of the skillet or cake pan. Start with your thicker, stiffer apple slices, because they will not be required to bend as much, and save your very thin slices for the middle of the apple spiral.
- Keep layering until the skillet is entirely full. Bake in the preheated oven until the apple slices are soft, approximately 20 minutes, depending on your oven.
- While the pie bakes, make the topping. Whirl the topping ingredients in a food processor until a crumble has formed to the coarseness of your preference. Remove the pie from the oven once it has finished baking and sprinkle the topping over the baked apple slices. Return the pie to the oven to cook for an additional ten minutes to toast the almond topping if desired.
- Slice and serve warm.