Happy Winds-day: A Pie Experiment

Winnie-the-Pooh: Happy “Winds-day”, Piglet.

 Piglet: [being blown away] Well… it isn’t… very happy… f-for me.

 Winnie-the-Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?

  Piglet: That’s what I’m asking myself, where?

[he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind]

 Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh!

Winnie-the-Pooh: [grabbing Piglet’s scarf] And what do you think you will answer yourself?

– Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day


After a stormy night here in the Central States, the wind descended upon us. It danced on the windows and swooshed against the doors. The roof rattled. The remaining leaves fluttered and wafted and ruffled. 

What is a girl to do on such a blustery day?

Baking a pie is always the answer, but this pie lady has made a commitment to cut down on sugar. Can you bake a decent pie without sugar, you ask? After much perusing of the internet, many suggestions were discovered, yet, this baker didn’t want to use any artificial sweetener. Ah ha! Here was a recipe that called for apple juice concentrate and maple syrup. Now, before gasping commences, there wasn’t any mention of low calorie, just no sugar.

The pastry maker had to make a quick dash to the store to pick up sweet apples (Fuji and Braeburn), butter, and milk. 

If one spent the time to create a sweet filling, a healthier crust alternative was crucial. One using less butter and white whole wheat flour looked feasible. The ingredients were mixed together with a pastry cutter instead of the standard food processor, wrapped in plastic wrap, and placed in the refrigerator to set for a few hours.

The apples were peeled and sliced, and placed in a pan with thawed apple juice concentrate. While they simmered, the pie dough was rolled out to fit the pan. Using wheat flour and half the butter made the dough less pliable and dry. The bottom crust was brought together with the magic of plastic wrap and a strong hand on the rolling pin. The heated apples were spooned into the unbaked crust.

Now trouble arose. The alleged top crust was stubborn. It crumbled at first roll, but this pie lady did some trouble-shooting. What if maple syrup was added to the mixture and made into a streusel topping instead? This might work. Brilliant!

The wind did not subside all day, yet the cinnamon apple scent wafted throughout the house. A cat stood watch over the window, protecting the house against vicious bird invaders. The other feline hid under the table, anxious and fretful at the strange noises the gales brewed.

After 45 minutes the bubbling concoction came out of the oven. Could this pie lady wait until it cooled? A baker must taste test her creations. It is required in order to see if the recipe was a success or a complete failure.

Patience has never been one of this girl’s attributes, so a warm slice was quickly cut and enjoyed along with a cold glass of milk. Crunchy topping. Yum. Silky apples. Lovely. Juice everywhere. Bottom crust…well, definitely not on par with the usual flour, butter, and sugar recipe. It was a little soggy. Looking at the two recipes, this baker discovered the oven temperature should have been higher for the first fifteen minutes of baking time, and then lowered for the remaining 30 minutes. The pie tasted more like a crumble, but it was an apple-ly delight on this oh-so-blustery day. The wheat crust recipe may need a little tweaking, but that is for another day, because this glass of milk requires a little bit more pie.

Apple Filling: (from allrecipes.com)

6 large sweet apples

1 (12 oz) can unsweetened apple juice concentrate (no sugar added), thawed

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven 425 degrees

  1. Mix together the cornstarch, cinnamon, and one third of the apple juice concentrate. Set aside.
  2. Put sliced apples in a large saucepan with raining apple juice concentrate. Simmer until apples are tender. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and continue to simmer until thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Spoon apple mixed into pastry-lined pie plate. Cover with top crust or streusel. 
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Wheat pie crust: (from amyshealthybaking.com)

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted cold butter, cubed

4 teaspoons milk

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

ice cold water

  1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter.
  2. Whisk together the milk and maple syrup, and drizzle over the flour mixture. Whisk together the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Mix until all ingredients have been incorporated. Continue to add water 1 tablespoon at a time and mixing until completely incorporated into a dough. (Next time I will add a few more tablespoons of butter and water, so the dough isn’t so dry.)
  3. Transfer the dough to the center of a large sheet of plastic wrap, and shape into two four inch wide circles. Cover the tops with another large sheet of plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
  4. Leaving the dough between the sheets of plastic, roll it out to an eleven inch circle. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap, and turn it out into the prepared pie plate. Gently press the dough into the pie plate, and trim the overhang. Spoon the apple pie filling into the center.
  5. For a streusel topping, crumble the other dough into a bowl. Add more cinnamon and maple syrup. Use clean hands to make into a streusel. Place on top of pie filling.
  6. Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Cool completely. (Ha, that’s funny.) Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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