I love making pies. Anything in the bread family, really. I love the tactile kneading of it, and I seem to have the right sense of what feels right or not — as so much of it is not a science as much as a touchy-feely thing.
But a bit over a year ago, my girlfriend and I went vegan (for ethical reasons), and baking without butter has withered my interest (which includes 99% of the margarines — as we avoid palm oil as part of that). I made a few pies after that, usually using coconut oil, and then I stopped. It didn’t excite me in texture, taste, or handling.
Which leads us to a recent trip that my girlfriend and I took down to Saratoga Springs, where we bought an avocado. It looked perfect: deep green and slightly soft and good smelling, we felt we had to get it. But sometimes an avocado can sit in the fruit basket waiting for someone to do something with it, but like a neglected child — it will eventually go bad.
Watching the little fruit patiently sit, I had the good fortune of remembering reading somewhere that you could substitute avocado for butter in a 1:1 ratio. Makes perfect sense. It’s fatty and smooth in texture. Baked goods are generally eaten at room temperature or slightly warmer, and a blended avocado has about the same softness as butter when butter is at that temperature.
So I tried it. And first let me tell you the bad news (I always eat my cake and THEN the frosting, because the frosting is what I want to remember). The resulting crust was tough. Not quite as tough as say… chewing leather, but tough. I attribute PART of that to the fact that we only had ONE avocado, so I could only make a half recipe — and then rolled it so thin it still gave me both a top and bottom crust. But also I know part of it is simply the avocado. How will I fix it? I’m not sure, but next time I think I’ll put in unseasoned crushed bread crumbs, which may break it up and make it seem more “flakey.”
The PLUS sides are two-fold. First is that the crust held together REALLY well, even when rolled super-thin. The second, and more important is this: it tasted great. It was an apple pie and the crust totally complimented the apples. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, and then I finished eating the whole damn pie in about a day.
I am excited about baking again.
I was also excited about the apples. It is near impossible to find McIntosh apples on the west coast (which until this moment I’ve always incorrectly spelled “Macintosh” like the computer). They are lovely, a little sweet but also slightly tart almost like a crabapple, which works well with lots of sugar (similar principal to that beloved stalk the rhubarb). My father gave us a bag as a housewarming gift when he and my gram visited, and after eating a few, they sat. Like the avocado, I saved them right when they were on the edge. A few of the apples, and a spot here and there, were beyond redemption — but the others hadn’t turned mealy or really gone wrong. I cored and sliced the whole bag, which ended up the perfect amount.
So, on to the recipe!
My old recipe was this:
- 1.75 sticks butter
- 2 cups flour
- cold water (until it holds together)
I had only ONE avocado, which measured just under 1/2 cup. Here’s the proportions I used:
- 1 avocado (well blended)
- 1 cup flour
- cold water (until it holds together)
So yes, I would suggest doubling that (unless you’re not making a top crust). Roll it to a pie-sized circle, fold it in half and in half again (which makes it easy to move it to the pie plate). Throw in the filling. Cut some slits on the top crust and put that on, and bake at 425 for 35 minutes (make sure there is something to catch bubbling filling overflow, or you may have a very sad oven).
I was very relaxed about making the filling. But for your enjoyment, it was something along the lines of:
Mix this stuff:
- Enough McIntosh apples to fill the pie
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
- just under a tsp of cinnamon
- 1 to 2 tbsps cornstarch
(p.s. apologies for poor quality pictures, my camera is broken and have not had a chance to replace it yet)