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
Far in advance of baking, 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 (the remaining butter should stay cool in the refrigerator until use). Cook apples on medium-high until they go translucent but still firm and the juices thicken—the apples need to become partly soft which is indicated by translucence, and to shed enough pectin to thicken the juice, but if overcooked they will also 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 the pie delicious. Reserve all apples, juice, oils, etc., and allow to cool fully to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a large bowl and mix. Cut remaining cold butter (1 1/2 stick, or 12 tbsp altogether) into 1/4 inch pads and add to flour. Using a food processor or a stiff fork combine the butter and flour until it begins to form small crumbles. It is important that the butter stay cold during this process. If it melts at all the dough will turn into a thick shell rather than a delicate, crispy pastry, so if it seems like it’s melting pop it into the fridge to rest for five or ten minutes. Once all the flour is incorporated into the butter add 1/2 tbsp of cold water at a time until the dough starts to come together. 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 divide into two halves with one being slightly larger than the other, flatten into a round disk, wrap with plastic and place in the refrigerator for ten minutes. Remove the larger disk from the fridge and turn out onto a floured surface, roll into a circle larger than a 9” pie dish—I like this crust thick on apple pie because it tastes so good, so I don’t roll my crust thin. If the butter is stiff allow it to reach room temperature before rolling. When rolled, gently pull back one side of the dough over top of the rolling pin and, using the rolling pin, 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). Briefly beat the egg to make an egg wash then brush it onto the inside crust. This will keep it from getting soggy. Then pour the fully cooled apple filling into the crust, mounding in the middle. Roll out the 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. When finished with the crust brush all of it with the egg wash—this is important, as if you don’t do this the crust will not turn out 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.