Monday, August 29, 2011

Music Monday: Don McLean American Pie

This weekend felt more like fall than summer. Autumn is in the air. The kids and I went to a large farmer's market on Saturday. I love this market, it is big, with so much fantastic local produce. Lots to choose from, but it is crowded. If it were just crowded that would be one thing, but it is crowded with some of the rudest people I have ever run into. Three old ladies nearly ran the kids and I down, clamoring for melons. One older lady hit E in the head with a bag of produce,  she was completely self absorbed. I am not sure how I feel about the families who come to this crowded market with their double stroller and two large dogs. Really? I am all for family time, but the sidewalks are so crowded and the dogs the size of ponies.

It wasn't all bad. We ran into some friendly dogs and we listened to some great live music. L was taken with the man singing and playing the guitar. We loaded up on the items I needed and and wanted. It was wonderful.

Now is the time of year when berries are a thing of the past and the first apples are appearing in our CSA. We are seeing less lettuce and more root veggies.

I think there is something decidedly American about apple pie.

As we all know, I eat a gluten free diet, among other things. Pie for me flew out the window about 6 years ago. This is a pity, I grew up eating my grandmother's fantastic fruit pies. All summer long we had a variety of wonderful pies. H's mom made decent fruit pies also.

Since giving up working for the man, I have taught myself to make pie crust from scratch and experimented with various fruit fillings. I even made a pecan pie using some coconut nectar a friend gave me. None of this I can eat. Not even a tiny taste.

While I have perfected some decent gluten free baked items, many of which I have shared here, for the most part gluten, I have decided, is part of what makes most baked goods good. It is integral to their character.

But those apples.

Beautiful late summer apples. They are so good. So good and pretty that I hated to just default to apple sauce or make yet another gluten free apple crisp. I wanted an apple pie. So when I saw one of my Tweeps was experimenting, I thought I would try too.

The key I decided is in the flour mix. You cannot go straight rice flour or sorghum flour. It has to be a blend. Recently I bought a bag of Namaste Flour Blend.

This blend contains sweet brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour and

xanthan gum.   

My first try I uses my standard double crust recipe and subbed the 2 cups of flour for two cups of this blend and proceeded normally. I then rolled out the crust and made no pan crust on the pizza stone, folded up the sides partially covering some apples sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and away we went.

It was too much crust, but it tasted good.

Yesterday, I decided for book club, I would try making a tart or as one of the very astute ladies in the book club pointed out, a galette. Again using the same plan as before, I made my normal pie crust using 2 cups of the Namaste flour blend and one stick of organic butter and adding 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then using the food processor, I add water by tablespoons until the dough begins to ball up. (about 6-7 tablespoons of ice water.)

I rolled this out on wax paper, carefully formed it in the tart pan and then popped in the fridge over night.

The hard part is rolling. This dough has no stretch. I normally get a double crust from this recipe when I use normal flour, but this same version using the gluten free flour blend is only going to yield one single crust. Gluten equals stretch.

Sliced apples the next day, layered them in the pan, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and dotted that with butter.

It looked so pretty.

Here is a before shot, just as I popped it in the oven.

and the after

The apples held up nicely, but released their juices, which blended with the sugar and cinnamon and butter to make a moist filling and the crust is perfect. The ladies at book club loved it and I thought it worked beautifully. My next step is to try for a real pie. I think I can do it. This flour blend seems to have what I need to make a short crust, which isn't crumbly.

So while you dream about apple tarts and apple pies and crisp, short satisfying gluten free pie crust, why not listen to American Pie by Don McLean. While this song is sad and wistful, I have always liked it. The gentleman at the market was singing it and L was dancing and that I think is the test of a classic, can it reach beyond the generation who created it? Does the music still resonate? Do we still think about it, even after he who created it faded from existence?

Kinda like apple pie??

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