A few months ago, Jim and I set out to clean up our diet and we started by eliminating as much white flour, white sugar and white carbs as possible from our diet. The results have been great and we now embrace whole grains and a variety of green vegetables we might have otherwise overlooked. I am never hungry and certainly never feel deprived….
Well, let’s back up for a minute. Even though I am not much of a “sweets” person, the one treat I both crave, and love to make, is pie. For most of the summer, I have been turning the idea of making a healthier pie over in my head and finally had an idea of how I wanted to try it. I came home from work on a Thursday night and started pulling out my baking supplies. Baking a pie just couldn’t wait another minute!I use whole wheat pastry flour quite often in my cookies, substituting it for at least half of the white flour, so I knew that it would be my starting point. Whole wheat definitely requires a lot more liquid and can have a tendency to be tough, if it is not handled with love, so I thought it would be interesting to add some grated sharp white cheddar cheese to give it a little personality.
Gravenstein apples just happen to grow in my yard and they were ready for the picking – so the choice of apples was a no-brainer! The next challenge was how to sweeten it. Since this was a spur-of-the moment pie, I ended up using 10 individual packets of Truvia (stevia) sweetener. A generous addition of cinnamon, a dash of fresh nutmeg and a little bit of apple cider vinegar completed the filling.
The pie baked beautifully and filled the air with the scent of apples, pastry and cheese. After letting the pie cool for a couple of hours, I nervously served Jim a slice and we were both amazed at how delicious it was. We were actually unsure if it tasted so good just because we hadn’t had anything sweet for such a long time or because it was really that good. After making a repeat for friends the following week, I had confirmation that it really was that good!
So the next time you want to make a pie, try this “healthier” version and you will be able to have your pie and eat it too!
Sugar-Free Apple Pie with Whole Wheat White Cheddar Crust
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons good quality butter
- 6 tablespoons leaf lard (use additional butter if you don’t have leaf lard available)
- ½ cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 12 tablespoons or more ice water
Mix flour, salt and cheese and then work the chilled butter and lard into the dry ingredients with your hands until you have a rough mixture with pieces ranging in size from small flakes to peas.
Begin sprinkling 3 tablespoons water over the flour mixture and work with your hands. Whole wheat flour requires a lot more liquid, so repeat this process 2 more times. At this point, you can start adding water a tablespoon at a time, working it and evaluating. You are looking for it to hold together. Don’t panic, if it takes a lot more water than you think it should – remember this is whole wheat. Once you are there, simply divide the dough in half, form into 2 chubby rounds, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and pop it into the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.
- 8 – 10 Gravenstein apples, peeled cored & sliced (you can also use a combination of sweet and tart apples like Golden Delicious and Granny Smith)
- 10 packets Truvia or 7 ½ tsp. stevia sweetener
- 1 tblsp. Whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Freshly grated nutmeg (a few pass on a rasp) or 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon good quality apple cider vinegar
Slice the apples into both thick and thin slices. If the slices are too thin, you will end up with “applesauce” pie and if they are too thick, the fruit doesn’t cook down enough. Use your pie dish to figure out how many apples you need. The apples should completely fill the dish and be mounded high. In a mixing bowl (you can use the same one that you mixed the crust in), combine the apples, Truvia, cinnamon, flour, nutmeg and apple cider vinegar. Set to the side to allow the fruit to slightly macerate while you roll out the crust.
For the best success working with this crust, I recommend using a pastry cloth and a little bit of white flour for the cloth and your rolling pin. Remove the first disc from the refrigerator and roll it out for the bottom crust allowing at least an additional 1 inch overhang – use your pie dish to measure. Fold the crust over your rolling pin and gently transfer it to the pie dish, rearranging as necessary to center. Seal any cracks with a dab of water and your fingers.
Add the apples, arranging them so they fit nicely into the pan and mound up in the center.
Follow the same procedure for rolling out the top crust and gently lay it over the filling. Trim the edges to about a 1 inch overhang. Bring the top and bottom crust together by rolling the top crust under the bottom. Then seal by either pinching with your fingers to flute or simply crimp with a fork. Optional – brush the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with a little bit of raw sugar.
Cut a few vent holes in the top and pop it into the oven at 425 for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 375 and cook for another 45 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, simply tent a piece of foil over the top.
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool at least 2 hours or preferably overnight prior to serving.