Bake

Our Best Vegan Apple Pie

January 13, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

After our test kitchen decided to develop a vegan apple pie for Our Best Recipes series, nailing down the filling was a cinch: Instead of granulated or brown sugar, we swapped in raw. We love its caramelly, butterscotchy flavor—not to mention how, when sprinkled on top, it adds crunch and glitter, to boot. You’ll notice that we call for pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon. Why? Well, pumpkin pie spice is mostly cinnamon (apple pie’s signature flavor). But it also has bonuses like ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, depending on the brand. If you want to make your own, go for it. When it comes to apples, look for a variety that’s well known for its baking prowess. You want lots of sweet-tart contrast, and a crisp structure that holds up well in the oven. Our favorites include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.

Naturally, the vegan pie crust was a little more complicated. All-butter recipes are a pie favorite for their flaky results and, well, buttery flavor. Common vegan alternatives are shortening (which is a classic pie dough pick in itself) and, more recently popular, coconut oil. After trying both, we found the shortening crust’s flavor to be utterly bland. This led us to coconut oil (using refined means you won’t end up with an apple pie that tastes like coconut). We love how creamy oat milk (versus water) adds subtle grainy-nutty flavor. It also makes a great pseudo egg wash to brush on top and help the sugar stick. (If you can’t find oat milk, another non-dairy milk, like soy or almond, works in a pinch.)

Make sure to let this pie cool at least a couple hours before slicing into it and serving. This gives the jammy fruit a chance to set up and means you won’t end up with hot lava on your plate. Once properly cooled, serve with coconut whipped cream or your favorite vegan ice cream. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —The Editors

  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 3 cups (384 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (168 grams) refined coconut oil, at room temperature (it should be solid)
  • 1/4 cup cold unsweetened oat milk, plus more as needed
  • Filling
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking apples (see Author Notes)
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar, plus more for the crust
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir. Add the coconut oil and use your hands to incorporate completely; there should be no noticeable oil chunks. Add the oat milk and stir. The dough should form clumps and curds, be slightly damp, and easily hold together when squeezed. Keep adding oat milk in 2-teaspoon increments until you get there. (You can also assemble the dough in a food processor. Follow the same visual cues, but make sure to remove the lid frequently to ensure you don’t overmix.) Divide the dough into two balls—one slightly larger than the other (the larger one will be our bottom crust). Wrap both in plastic wrap, press into flat discs, and set aside in a cool area of the kitchen (not the fridge); this dough is easier to roll out at room-temp.
  3. While the dough hydrates, prepare the apple filling. Core, peel, and thickly slice the apples (figure about ¼-inch thick). Add to a large mixing bowl, then toss with the sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  4. Roll out the larger dough disc into a 12-inch or so circle on a lightly floured surface. Make sure to rotate the dough regularly to ensure it doesn’t stick. If it cracks at all, just use your hands to press it back together. Use your hands to very carefully transfer the dough circle to a 9-inch pie pan. Fill with the apples. Roll out the remaining dough round into a 10-inch circle and use this to cover the apples. If the dough circle cracks or breaks in the transfer, just encourage it back together; no one will notice after it bakes. Trim any excess dough around the perimeter of the pie pan and use your fingers to crimp together the edges into a ruffly pattern. Brush the top of the pie with oat milk, then sprinkle very generously with raw sugar. Cut four steam vents in the center of the pie.
  5. Transfer the prepared pie to a lined sheet pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is golden-brown. Let cool until barely warm before slicing and serving (this will take a couple hours, so plan ahead!).

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.