Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Gluten Free Apple Pie (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

When I was little, every Saturday morning started the same way. I would wake at some ungodly hour to a very silent house. The maternal fatwah calling for the lashing by tongue of all early riser infidels had been in place for years, so I would mooch about on my own for an hour or so, and then wake my brother. I usually had to wake him by pulling up his eyelids. He would punch me, reluctantly get up, and after he’d made us coffee and toast, it was just about time for the girl and her psycho clown to be replaced by Saturday morning tv.

It was always halfway through Tiswas when Mum put in an appearance. Not the smiling face of a woman well-rested, but the very irritated face of a woman who had been to my bedroom. ‘Go upstairs and tidy your room, NOW’. Up I went, and pottered around, getting sidetracked by toys I’d forgotten I owned. Eventually I would chuck everything into the bottom of my wardrobe and slink back downstairs. How she saw through my 'she’ll-never-find-it-in-the-bottom-of-the-wardrobe' ruse I’ll never know, but within a very short time I was marched back upstairs to ‘do it properly’.

I have never been tidy. It does not occur to me to be neat; my life is about greater or lesser degrees of chaos. I have spread my mess through student rooms, apartments, rented houses and houses we own. I have observed that my mess is cyclical; it is invisible for days or even months and then it all looms up, lurching towards me with outstretched dusty arms, demanding that I pay attention and do something.

So few people in life are genuinely untidy like me. Most women I meet have been schooled in the art of picking things up off the floor, buying storage, finishing one job before starting another, bleaching the inside of the bin (why?), bleaching the inside of the teapot (alarming), folding plastic bags, having a place for every item in the house and…well, I could go on and on. There must be some lack in me that seeks out these tidy women, many of them are my friends, and I feel like a messy child in comparison.

I have only one friend who does mess on my industrial scale. Clever, funky Jo. It’s such a relief to go to her house. We chat, she cooks delicious food and I gaze happily at her clutter through a haze of plentiful wine. I recently purchased one of her original sculptures, and as I found a place for it in my home, I reflected on what is important in life. A neat, sparkly house? Or the ability to create something - art, food, family - that makes people say, ‘Wow, that’s cool’, and sod the mess?

My tidy Mum used to make apple pie. She made it on a pyrex plate and for the top of the pie she would cut out two pastry leaves, and arrange them neatly in the centre of the pie. It did look very good. Very orderly.

My apple pie does not look like my mother’s pie. It looks a bit messy, but it does taste very good, and won’t look out of place in a less-than-pristine home.

Untidy Apple Pie (Click here for tips on avoiding cross-contamination)
If you are not gluten-intolerant but need to avoid dairy, click here for a pastry recipe, and substitute the butter and lard (!) with dairy-free spread
For the Pastry:200g sweet potato, (peeled, cooked, cooled and mashed)
125g rice flour (+ up to 5 extra tbsps)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
100g dairy-free spread
For the filling:
4 medium sized apples (cookers or eaters)
Approx 2-4 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
2-4 tbsps sugar

  • Up to 36 hours before, cook the sweet potato by steaming or boiling, then mash it until smooth. Spread it out over a plate and chill in the fridge. The pre-requisite for using the mashed potato is that it be very cold, so you need to do this part at least 4 hours before starting the pie
  • Peel, core and dice the apples and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon juice - you are aiming to coat all the pieces of apple with juice - add the cinnamon and sugar and mix it all together. The sugar and lemon juice will fight it out together and form a lovely syrup in the bottom of the bowl, fret not, we will use the syrup later. Set the bowl aside
  • Put the rice flour, xanthan gum and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and mix together
  • Add the dairy-free spread and rub it into the flour mix until it looks vaguely like breadcrumbs. It won't look like very fine breadcrumbs, but don't worry
  • Add the sweet potato mash and using the back of a metal spoon mix and squidge it all together until it forms a dough. It could be that the dough is too wet and sticky to work with, so add more rice flour, tablespoon by tablespoon. Mix after each addition until you get a soft, pliable dough that isn't sticky. Chill the dough in the fridge for about half an hour if you can, (you can leave it for longer if it suits you, I've done it for at least 4 hours and it's been fine)
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius/gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment
  • Flour your work surface with some rice flour, and roll out the pastry to a circle about 33cm in diameter (that's very precise isn't it? I toil hard for your culinary pleasure!)
  • Transfer the pastry circle (I'll accept 34cm if you didn't manage 33) to the baking tray. No matter if it hangs flabbily over the edges (haven't we all felt like that at some time?) we shall gather it all up in a mo
  • Pile up your apple mix in the centre of your pastry. Try not to get too much sugary lemon juice onto the pastry
  • Now carefully gather the pastry up to embrace the apple pile. Remember this is untidy apple pie, please don't stress if it doesn't look neat. You'll have to fold and pinch and shove it a bit to gather it all up, but this pie is very forgiving and it really won't care
  • When it is all in place, smear the lemon juice all over the outside of the pie, easiest way is to use your fingers
  • Sprinkle sugar all over the outside of the pie, press it in a bit if it doesn't adhere
  • Place your messy, happy pie in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and cover it lightly with tin foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or so. For the finale, remove foil, and return to the oven to make everything golden for the last 5-10 minutes
  • Serve this to scruffy friends. Newspapers propped up by milk bottles are very welcome, piles of unfiled post at the table are also a good accompaniment
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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@themill said...

Will try this. The sorbets were fabulous. Do you invent these all yourself?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Yo Pig! I have the untidy gene, as does my sister. Our mum has a very tidy gene.

Stay at home dad said...

Mess is fine by me, Pig. Tidying is so over-rated. Cooking on the other hand...

Miss Thistle said...

I remember your various bedrooms (ever the Gerbils protested!). My daughter is just the same, why should she keep her room tidy, why don't I just stay out (perhaps she's right). I fall somewhere in the middle, I can put it with it for while then have mad urge to clean & tidy. My husband is tidy he puts everything away. Trouble is sometimes it's important things that I have left, just where I know it is, like on the piano or on the sideboard. This week a letter with a large cheque attached went missing, due to my husbands tidying (found in a cupboard). I think he may be slightly obsessive - perhaps your way is better. The trouble with cleaning is it all has to be done again. Glad you had good holiday, hope the sun shone a little.

Mya said...

Scruffies unite. I am Fleabag to my husband's Spiffy. He once tried drawing an imaginary line through the bedroom - and told me to keep my mess on my side!The cheek. I note he wasn't so keen on drawing the same kind of line down the middle of the bed! My Mum still puts pastry leaves on apple pies too - they are delicious but I wish she'd leave out the cloves, I always nearly break my teeth on them. Got any good courgette recipes? I'm getting a bit desperate...

Mya x

Dianne said...

I like untidy pies too! This one looks to be a winner!


rilly super said...

PITK, it's a scientific fact that storing things 'untidily' reflects the way the human brain stores facts and things, so 'untidy' people are really much smarter than, say, those alpabetising obsessive types. You could therefore in fact be a genius my dear, although alternatively you could have just been unduly affected at an early age by the phantom flan flinger...

Mrs Steinway said...

Tiswas, Pig? I had you down as a BBC girl! It was Multi-coloured Swap Shop in our house. At a night out at Oriental Buffet last night with DC Mountney, we were reminiscing about her slightly anal attitude to tidying and comparing it to your more, shall we say, slack attitude. She seems to have relaxed it now you'll be glad to hear. Hopefully I am somewhere in the middle...

Mrs Steinway said...

PS - I remember my sister being told off in home economics for putting leaves on an apple pie. Apparently leaves are only for meat pies according to the teacher.
Is there any truth in this??
Does anyone out there know??

lady macleod said...

oh great messy kitchen, parlor, toliet, and bedroom!!! there was a mix-up in the nursery, as you are obviously Q's pseudo-mum!!!!

it is actually quite a relief as I am the bastard child of Mrs. Tittlemouse. Now everything makes sense. Only I am keeping her since I 've already done the tidy up!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

@themill, so excited that you have made my sorbets! and that they were fabulous. My recipes are a mix...some of them wake me up in the early hours and demand to be tried, others are an attempt at something else that doesn't work but has a happy ending, and still others are egg/dairy/gluten-free versions of 'mainstream' recipes. The sorbet ones came from the depths of my imagination!

M&M, phew, glad I'm not the only one with the errant gene...the tidy gene must skip generations. Or do we revolt against our tidy mothers?

SAHD, your words are music to my ears and power to my untidy cooking elbow.

Miss T, don't go dishing my bedroom secrets now will you? I had forgotten about Jake the gerbil. I feel for you with a tidy husband, at least mine is happy to wallow with me. A close one with the cheque, glad it turned up safe and well. I hate the repetitive nature of cleaning, it's so bloody boring...

MYA, welcome to my scruffy club, and my condolences for the tidy husband. What an extraordinary idea to draw lines in the bedroom...have you tried drawing one in the dirty washing basket or in the ironing pile? Funny you should mention courgette this space, one is coming up!

Dianne, untidy pies are much more friendly than a stiff, neat pie. I don't like to be scared by a pie, a relaxed pie is all I ask for.

Rilly, I am so pleased to learn that I am a genius. I think you are right (of course) have you ever observed how children play? Mess strewn everywhere, but they know just where to find stuff, it is obviously the pure natural state to be untidy, anything else is an anal societal construct.

Mrs S, Noel Edmonds was just so damned boring, I bet he is a tidy person. Chris Tarrant on the other hand...I mean, who would you rather go for a drink with? Glad to hear you and DC M are both well, did she let you play with her warrant badge? I am still giggling at the notion that you are somewhere 'in the middle' as opposed to a very, very tidy person, you are sadly deluded m'dear ;-)

And I have no idea about leaves on the pie...I always assumed my Mother was right about everything, but now you mention it...I shall have to do a google search, unless anyone else can help? Delia? Nigella? Don't be coy.

Lady M...I'm assuming you mean Q your daughter and not the James Bond Q? I'm a little baffled! I too am the bastard child of Mrs T, I like that phrase. As i recall, wasn't Mrs Tiggy Winkle rather neat, and also spiky? Perhaps i am her failed daughter, only I've retained the spikes. Am i making any sense? this wine is slipping down nicely....

Akelamalu said...

I'm tidy, I was the one shouting "Go tidy your room!"

Now it doesn't seem to matter so much - life has a habit of biting you on the bum and making you realise tidyness is not that important! :)

Miss Thistle said...

I think the gerbils were called Jake and Joel, is that right? Anyway the bedroom pales into insignificance compared with the kitchen at your Uni' house! Happy holidays.

Potty Mummy said...

I seemed to spend my childhood hiding mess in the back of an enormous bedroom cupboard. Once a year, on clockwork, my mum would march into the room - no doubt overcome by the smell - and throw open the doors. Recoiling in horror she would doll out rough justice to my sister and I, and leave us to clear up the debris for the rest of the day. Not a pc approach to child-rearing, or one I practise myself, but you've got to sympathise with the frustration that led to it... Needless to say, I conquered my untidy instincts over the years, but my inner dust demon has wreaked revenge on my otherwise tidy mind - I have married the messiest man you could ever hope to meet.

farming-frenchstyle said...

Suggested to a friend she looks at your blog for the lovely recipes. She needs a gluten-free diet. Hope you are settling down again after the visit to England. It does get better.

dulwichmum said...

My mum made that exact apple pie too. Hers tasted like shoe leather though, how about your mums?

Silvana said...

Your appple pie sounds scrum.

I'm as untidy as you are. I don't know how it happens but nothing ever finds its way to the right place and the stairs are a death-trap of odds and sods waiting to be put away. I blame my own mother entirely.

annakarenin said...

Wow your site is yummy. I am trying desperately to reform my slovenly ways at the mo. Clutter in a family of 6 all with similar tendencies of laziness doesn't seem to be a workable option and is finally making me realise that being tidy might be a useful trait.

Elsie Button said...

i must confess i can't handle mess very well. it drives my husband nuts. i hate cleaning, but i hate mess. every so often i have a tantrum about our cobweby dusty house. your apple pie sounds DELISH!

Around My Kitchen Table said...

What a cunning plan - ply everyone with lots of wine so they don't see how messy your house is, or if they do, they don't care! I definitely have the messy gene although, unfortunately, I much prefer the house tidy so I have this constant battle with myself. I just love it when I go to other people's houses and they are really untidy. They're the people who get invited back!

Dumdad said...


I've just read your comment on my blog (my wife noticed it!) Thanks for dropping by.
Your take on Cliff was much more imaginative than mine.
Anyway, we're all back from God's Own.
I loved being back in my own country but it's SO expensive. On several occasions, we went mad in Waitrose (Marmite! Steak and kidney pie in a tin! PG Tips! Buy, buy, buy!) and the bills were enormous.

Marianne said...

This looks interesting PITK. Perhaps I shall try it on the man in the pink shirt when he comes to supper next time. It reminds me a little of Delia Smith's One Crust Pies which I like to make when I can find time, mostly because I don't like fiddling with pastry cutters and it is just easier. Have you ever tried it?

Akelamalu said...

PS You have an award, please call by my place to collect it. :)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Akelamalu, I have heard so many women say they wished they hadn't worried so much about the mess when their children were little...I am taking their words to heart!

Miss T, I am convinced that you have shed enough light now on my untidy ways. Remember I am trying to be anonymous and enigmatic...;-)

Potty Mummy, welcome! That sounds like a traumatic scene, have you had to spend much time in therapy?! Or does your husband double up as your counsellor?

FF, thank-you for your visit, and for passing on my blog link to your friend. 11 years in France, you truly deserve a medal...I'm braced for the next 11 months.

Dulwich Mum, my dear Mother's pie was divine, I commiserate with you (and your Mother)

Silvana, relieved that I am not the only untidy one! I'm sure my mother probably is to blame, they are for most things aren't they?!

annakarenin, hello, welcome! A fellow mother of 4, and also untidy! On bad days I could be persuaded to try a bit of hypnotherapy to make me tidy. Don't know how you do it with 4 boys....!

Elsie Button, we are who we are, I sneakily wish I were a bit tidier, but then I rub up against a truly manic tidy person and think I'm not so bad after all. I am not suggesting for a MINUTE that you are a truly manic tidy person...

amkt, sigh, yes, I do prefer my house tidy. I love it on the day my lovely cleaner has been...I wonder if gene therapy exists for untidy people?

Hello Dumdad, and welcome to you. I fully understand the Waitrose thing...I generally start to feel sick with unhappy anticipation as I unload the contents of my trolley...the total is like a swift kick to the gut. But we don't go often and it's better than paying 5 quid for a miniscule jar of marmite in the 'cuisine d'autres pays' aisle isn't it?!

Hello Marianne, yes, I think the pink man would like this. Have never ever tried a Delia,I lie - perhaps a fridge cake once -I find her a little scary, too competent and in control. I suspect she folds her plastic bags.

akelamalu, ooooo goody, how exciting! Will drop by over the weekend!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Messy is good and you're right cleaning is sooooo boring! The only time our house is ever really tidy is when my in-laws are visiting and it's only for their arrival. If they're hanging around it goes back to normal. A friend of mine puts her kettle away after making tea. - Errr hello? I know which way I'd rather be...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Amanda, she really puts her kettle away after making a cuppa? That has brightened up my dreary Monday morning! Have a lovely holiday!

Marcy said...

"When it is all in place, smear the lemon juice all over the outside of the pie, easiest way is to use your fingers."

Did you mean the juice mixture from the apples?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Marcy, hello,yes that is what I meant. Good luck!
Pig x