Apple Pie with Spelt-Flour Crust
Common wheat is murder on our gastrointestinal systems. Gluten from strains of red, white, and winter wheat are impossible for our bodies to digest, and even seemingly healthy people will suffer the effects of eating it. I myself had chronic sinus infections until I learned that gluten was the culprit of my depressed immune system and debilitating stomachaches. After 10 years of avoiding gluten I learned that I was only allergic to the type from common wheat, and that heirloom grains such as spelt, einkorn, and kamut are not only easier to digest—they taste better and have better texture than common wheat, and lend themselves particularly well to baked desserts like pies and cookies, and now I can have desserts like this as often as I want and never even have so much as a sniffle. Apple pectin is also one of the best things for your gut—because the pectin in apples cannot be metabolized into lactic acid, which contributes to gut issues, it promotes the synthesis of short chain fatty acids and thus promotes gut health and health overall. This is the reason for the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and apple pie makes it easy to have a few apples in one serving. Ice cream is now commonly made with emulsifiers and binding gums in order to keep it looking like ice cream during the distribution process, and these additives can undo any good you might be doing with your diet by harming your gut microbiome, so read the ingredients on ice cream and other products you buy and avoid those with these unnecessary and harmful additives. They also make ice cream gelatinous and rubbery when it should be soft and creamy. Gross. Buy good products and your body will stay healthy. Likewise, unrefined sugar has a more complicated flavor profile than white, refined sugar, making your food taste less like a chemistry experiment and more like something wholesome and nutritious. Apple pie such as this can and should be a part of any healthy diet.
APPLE PIE WITH SPELT (OR EINKORN) CRUST
10-12 apples, preferably green, tart varieties like Granny Smith, cubed or julienned.
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp Butter (18 tbsp altogether)
1 tbsp good Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups unrefined Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt x 2
3 cups white Spelt or Einkorn flour
2 tbsp cold Water.
1 egg with 2 tbsp Milk
Peel and cube apples and place them in a large pot with 6 tbsp of butter, the sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt, and cinnamon. Cook on medium-high until the apples go translucent—they need to become partly soft which is indicated by translucence but if cooked too long they will turn to mush inside the pie when it bakes. Some recipes call for draining the apple juices that come from this part—why would you do that???? This juice is what fills in the space between the apples and the natural pectin will turn the juice into a thick gel that makes apple pie so delicious. Reserve all apples, juice, oils, etc., and allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, the remaining butter should stay cool in the refrigerator until use. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a large bowl and mix. Cut remaining butter (1 1/2 stick or 12 tbsp altogether) into 1/4 inch pads and add to flour. Working with common wheat, which has extremely aggressive gluten, requires that butter stay totally cooled so that it doesn’t expel any water into the gluten and becomes a complicated process. When working with heirloom flours, which have much less gluten, this is not only unnecessary but a little bit of water will help keep the dough together and it is usually unnecessary to refrigerate the dough, so in this recipe you can use your hands to then mash the flour and butter together until it starts to form into little crumbles. Alternatively you can use a food processor to gently pulse/blend the butter and flour together. It’s ready once the flour is no longer fine but comes together into larger, pea-sized pieces of butter-flour. You still don’t want the butter to melt, though, so if it starts to look greasy or feels like melted butter stop and put it in the fridge for a few minutes. Eventually the dough should stick together into large clumps. When this starts to occur then add 1/2 tbsp of cold water at a time until the dough comes together in a large ball. Too much water will make it sticky and the crust tough but not enough will cause the dough to split when rolling—with heirloom flours the dough will probably still split, though, and that’s fine, you just patch it together. When dough is done cut into two halves with one being slightly bigger than the other. Turn out bigger portion onto a floured surface and roll as best you can into a circle slightly larger than a 9” pie dish. I like my crust thick on this apple pie because it tastes so good, so I don’t roll my crust thin. When rolled, gently pull back one side of the dough over top of the rolling pin, and use rolling pin to hoist crust over pie dish. Gently form dough into dish and cut any parts which are hanging over the edges (do not trim to inner part of dish—leave dough out to the very edges of the lip). Whisk egg with 2 tbsp milk and brush a small amount on the floor of the pie crust. This will help keep some of the water from the apples from soaking the lower crust. Pour cooled apple filling into crust, mounding in the middle. Roll out second piece of dough and place over top of filling, then crimp the top and bottom crusts together around the edge. Using a fork, poke holes in the top crust so that steam can escape during the cooking process. If you want to, you can cut out little designs in dough to add to the top, but I never do this because I just want to fucking eat the pie as soon as I can. If you are inclined to make designs or for thicker pie crust start with 3 cups of flour and and 1 extra tbsp of butter for some extra dough. When finished with the crust brush all of it with egg wash—this is important as if you don’t do this the crust will turn out like old drywall rather than shiny and crispy. Place in oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown. Allow to stand for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve warm with good ice cream and watch in amazement as none of your dinner guests go home with stomachaches.