Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sugar-Free Deep Dish Apple Pie

I admit it; I have O.P.D. - Obsessive Pie Disorder. Ever since I went low-carb, I've been developing new recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth. I've been averaging a pie a week, alternating between apple and sweet potato, with a chicken pot pie thrown in for good measure. Yum.

As I've gone, I've continued to fiddle with the balance of sweeteners, trying to hit the sweet spot. As I have mentioned before, stevia is a completely natural, calorie-free leaf extract, but it has a funky aftertaste. Xylitol is a sugar alchohol, slightly sweeter than cane sugar, neutral in flavor, measures like sugar, 70% lower on the glycemic index than sugar, anti-cavity, BUT - extracted in a funky fashion from wood. Then I discovered a new darling; erythritol, marketed as organic "Zero" by Wholesome Sweeteners. This is also a sugar alcohol, but made naturally through fermentation, and available as an organic product. (Be careful; some of the stuff out there is made from corn cobs in China. No thank you.) No calories, zero on the the glycemic index - Ooh - so far, so great! But it is only 60% as sweet as sugar, so you need to use more, and it is wickedly expensive; about $14 for a 12 ounce bag. Ouch!

So, the blending continues...

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Whole grain pie dough for one crust (see my earlier post for pie crust)

8-10 baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 Meyer lemons: all grated zest, plus 2 TB juice (or more to taste)
OR 1 Eureka/Lisbon lemon: all grated zest, plus 1 TB juice (or more to taste)
1/4 cup xylitol
3 tiny measuring scoops powdered stevia
3 TB erythritol (Zero)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2-4 TB (1/2 stick) sweet (unsalted) butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg whisked with 2 TB water, milk or cream for glaze
1 tsp sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425 F, and bring the crust to room temperature.

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, put them in a large non-reactive bowl, then toss with the lemon juice and zest.

Combine the salt, sweeteners and spices in a small bowl, and whisk to combine them well.

Sprinkle sweetener/spice mixture over the apples, and toss well to combine.

Pour the apples into a deep-dish pie plate. Dot with the butter.

Roll out the pie crust, and carefully transfer it to the top of the apples. It's fragile; try using a spatula to help transfer it over. If it breaks on the way, don't freak, just patch it up with your fingers. Tuck the excess dough down into the sides of the pie dish. Cut a circle of steam slits with a sharp paring knife.

Put the pie onto a cookie sheet to catch the drips. Bake the pie at 425 for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F, and bake until the fruit is tender when pierced with a skewer and the crust is golden brown; about 25 more minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes or to room temperature before eating; this helps thicken the juices.

Note: This makes a delectably sweet pie. If you want it a little less sweet, cut back the xylitol by a couple of tablespoons and check the taste.

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