7 September 2015 | BY ANDJELKA JANKOVIC | Travel
The tales we tell turn my heart inside out
Vegan, gluten free, dairy free (inspired by Oh She Glows)
Everyone has a memorable pie story – the flawless salted maple pie at Sister Pie in Detroit comes to mind when I think about my own When Harry Met Sally ‘yes! yes! yes!’ food orgasm moments in life.
Who else likes to bake in a heatwave? No? Just me then. For Labour Day during my first weekend in Toronto, I wanted to celebrate Canada by using my two favourite autumnal ingredients: pumpkin and maple syrup.
Also cause for much celebration is that Canadian oats are naturally gluten-free (unlike in Australia where they are cross contaminated with wheat crops) and I had four new wonderful housemate mouths to feed.
A vegan, gluten free crust might deter pie purists, but it really needn’t. The oats and nuts provide a rustic crumbly texture and the honey and flax seeds hold it together perfectly. If you are anything like me, I am very generous with cinnamon so feel free add your favourite spices as you wish. The pumpkin-salted maple filling really needs to have a national holiday in its honour. Creamy nourishing pumpkin paired with the nostalgia of real Canadian Grade B maple syrup (I studied abroad at Queen’s University in Kingston when in was 19) and flake sea salt for a twist on the salted caramel taste we all know and love.
For the pumpkin-salted maple filling:
6 cups butternut pumpkin, skin removed and diced (about one large)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
two pinches flaked sea salt
For the nutty cinnamon crust:
1 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats, processed into a fine flour (or 1 cup gluten-free oat flour)
1 cups raw pecan
1 cup raw hazelnuts
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil
FOR THE CRUST
Preheat oven to 180D / 350F and grease pan with coconut oil.
Process oats into a fine flour. In a food processor, add pecans and hazelunts and process until it starts to clump and release oil (about 30 to 60 seconds). The consistency should be sticky and you should be able to form balls.
Melt the coconut oil and honey together, stir together and add to nut mixture. Using your hands combine very well, if it’s too dry add more coconut oil.
Spoon the nutty cinnamon crust into the pie dish and press down firmly with fingers to the edges to form a crust. Smooth out evenly, prick base with fork 12 times.
Bake at 180D / 350F for 10-12 minutes, watching closely until it is golden and not burnt. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
FOR THE FILLING
Meanwhile, boil water in a heavy saucepan and cook pumpkin until soft.
In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and cornstarch.
Add all other ingredients and whisk together, adding more spices or maple syrup as you wish.
Scoop the filling into the cooled pie crust and smooth top over.
Place on baking tray and cover crust with aluminum foil (or pie crust shield, fancy). Bake for 50-55 minutes at 180D / 350F.
Carefully remove aluminum foil (smooth over if it has stuck a little to the filling) and place on cooling rack or bench for 1 hour. Sprinkle flaked sea salt on top of the pie like fairy dust.
Transfer to fridge to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight and slice when it has set. Don’t try to rush this part, tears will be inevitable when your pie falls apart because it has not set. Patience will reward you with pie.
Slice slowly with a very sharp knife. Wait for people to come from all corners of the house and neighbourhood at the sight and smell of your magnificent autumnal creation!
You can use a food processor, but I only had a Magic Bullet on hand and it worked a treat.
If you have a glass pie dish, grease it well with coconut oil before pressing in crust. Otherwise I used a large aluminum foil pie pan.
Serve with coconut ice-cream or whipped coconut cream as a delicious accompaniment.
Sprinkling flaked sea salt gives it a nice visual touch, but if you don’t have it don’t fret.
Waiting for the pie to set is food torture but worth the wait (and constantly checking on it in the fridge won’t make it set faster, sadly)
Whatever you do, don’t overeat dinner as this pie is a meal in itself!