Apple Pear Carmel Pie Perfection

Pie has always been a classic holiday dessert. But sometimes we want something a bit different. Maybe, right now you are frantically looking for an alternative to pumpkin pie or apple pie; they seem kinda ho hum. Look no further, apple pear caramel crumb pie to the rescue!

Fresh tasting, locally sourced fruits are exactly in the spirit of Thanksgiving. The apple is the predominant flavor but the pear adds sweetness and a special flavor. The sugars, spices and lemon peel create a yummy caramely sauce. It is not that really sweet caramel of sauces; just enough sweetness to tease your palette.

This pie is fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I even tried a slice with some sharp cheddar in the British pie tradition; it was nice but I really like it best all alone, so the delicate fruit and spices show their winning flavors.

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This is the dry blend you mix the fruit slices with before pouring in the crust.

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Loaded with crumb topping and ready for the oven!

This recipe is a blending of my own pie filling and the pie crust and crumb recipes from Annalise Robert’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics. I used less sugar, more fruit, and made a few other changes to create my own special pie using apples and pears. Her cookbook is a fabulous resource and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone trying to bake gluten free for a family member. There is nothing like the classic desserts that we traditionally enjoy at celebrations and feasts to comfort a celiac who can’t eat what they used to.apple pear pie, squash, chicken and dumplings 019

Angie’s GF Apple Pear Crumb Pie

Crust:
1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 Tbps. granulated sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks
1 lg egg
2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer. Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal. Add egg and juice. Mix until it comes together into big chunks. Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you chop the peeled and cored fruit into ¼ to 1/3 inch slices.

Filling:

5 cups peeled, cored, and thin sliced cooking apples (4 big apples)
2 cups (2 large pears) bosc pears; peeled, cored, and sliced thin – place in medium bowl

Mix the following in a small bowl and pour over the sliced apples and pears:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp. tapioca flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. grated or zested lemon peel (I zested)

Roll out pie crust between the two sheets of wax paper; try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered. Remove other slice of wax paper. Crimp edges all around. Fill with sweetened fruit mix. Sprinkle the lemon peel evenly over top and pour the crumb topping (1 to 1½ cup) evenly over this mixture. The more crumbs the thicker the crust they will form; for a really thick crust use all the crumbs from the recipe below.

If you love your pie really sweet add another ¼ cup granulated sugar to the dry mix part of the filling. I found the pie to be plenty sweet but everyone has their own sweetness level.

I put a pie guard under my pies to contain any oven accidents. If you make many pies it is a must. pie guardBake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes with a piece of aluminum foil on top of the pie, then 30 more minutes uncovered until bubbly and the crust is light brown. Cool at least 2 hours before serving at room temperature.

Note: I bake pies in my bottom heat pizza oven and it gives me a great browned crust. If your oven isn’t bottom heat you might want to pre-bake the crust 10 minutes before filling and topping the fruit.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix
½ c granulated sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks
Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur GF blend)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch (not potato flour)
1/3 c tapioca flour

Apple Streusel Tart…Totally Terrific

Okay, this is my fall dessert Chopped (Food Network show)…. I have some ricotta cheese, some ripe apples, leftover crumb pie topping and a lemon.  What to make?? I couldn’t find a recipe that suited those ingredients so I made up this tart. I used the cookie crust that I have been using since I went GF as it is really tasty and the crumb recipe I always use for crumb pies.  I actually had the crumbs in the fridge so I didn’t have to make a batch of them.

The apples are from my own Jonagold tree, any baking apple will do, Rome or Golden Delicious are varieties that come to mind. I would avoid eating varieties such as Red Delicious or Honey Crisp as well as those that stay very firm like Granny Smith.

apple crumb tart slice

This tart is totally nummy good, the bottom is a crisp cookie crust covered with a thin layer of ricotta cheese custard under the caramelized apple slices and a topping full of crunchy almond goodness.  I am guessing you could leave out the nuts or sub in walnut or pecans cut into small chunks.  If you can’t eat oats you could certainly leave them out of the topping but I love the homey flavor and crunch they add.  The lemon is an under flavor but it does add a really nice hint of lemon to the mix.  I used some eggs I got from a friend who has her own chickens, the yolks were so orange they made the custard layer a lovely shade of gold.  Nice.

We had it plain but it is also fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I served it slightly warm which was lovely but you will enjoy eating it at room temperature for sure.

This tart has several steps in the construction of it but nothing too tricky.  And it looks like it came from a fancy French bakery, yet it is totally gluten free.  If you make this tart I promise you no one will even believe it is GF.  They will just beg for seconds!

Make your cookie crust and the crumb topping.  Then construct the apple filling and make the custard while your apples saute.  Have all the parts ready before you put it together or you will be frazzled and your tart might be soggy.  I did have to pick a few lemon pits out as I squeezed the juice right in with the apples.  You can be smart and use a hand juicer!

I have to say that this could be translated to a regular wheat all purpose flour based cookie crust of your choice with regular (wheat flour based) crumbs for the topping: for you wheat loving folks out there….if you want to enjoy this spectacular tart but don’t want to make it with gf ingredients.

Apple Caramel Tart

*Cookie crust

Place the following in a stand mixer bowl and combine

1 cup GF flour (recipe below)

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp xanthan gum

Add 5 tbsp cold butter, cut into 6-7 chunks.  Mix on low until the butter is just crumbs blended in.

Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water.  Blend well. Pour into a ten inch tart pan that was sprayed with cooking spray.  Spread it up the sides ½ an inch.  Press gently in so it is a cohesive crust but do not press really hard or it will be like concrete when you finish baking it!

cookie crust

Filling

Peel and slice enough cooking apples to make 3 cups of apples. I used small ones, 5-6 but I am betting 3-4 good sized ones will suffice. If you have 3 1/2 cups even better!

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a 9 or 10 inch frying pan, add ¼ cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tbsp. water and the apples. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes until slightly soft.  Sprinkle with ¼ tsp cinnamon. Allow to cool 5 minutes while you make the custard and the crumbs.

apples in pan softening

*Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

You will use a heaping ½ cup of the crumbs. Put the rest in a tightly sealing glass container and store in the fridge for your next pie/tart. It should keep for several weeks.

Almond Streusel Topping: mix well

½ cup gf crumb topping

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup old fashioned oats

Ricotta Custard

1/2 cup ricotta cheese, part skim

2 medium eggs

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. half and half

Lemon zest from ½ a lemon, cut with a zester so they are thin short strips

¼ tsp. lemon extract

1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Just mix it well with a whisk in a small mixing bowl.  If you don’t have smaller eggs use 1 large egg and an egg yolk as a good substitute.  If you don’t like or have lemon extract just leave it out and it will still be awesome.

Assembly

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Gently pour the custard into the crust.  I tilted my pan a bit to get it to cover most of the bottom. It will not reach up the sides.  I then carefully spooned the caramelized apple slices over the custard. Do not press them into the ricotta cheese custard.  Try to spread them as evenly as possible so there are not huge gaps between apples.  I spooned every bit of the caramel sauce on top spreading it around too.

apple tart before crumbsSprinkle the tart with the streusel topping.

apple crumb tart unbaked Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 375 degrees.  Bake 35 minutes or until lightly browned and a testing straw comes out clean.

apple crumb tart  Cool at least 30 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  Enjoy!

* Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

*from Annalise Robert’s cook book Gluten-Free Baking Classics

#apple tart