This year, one of my colleagues (an American) thought it’d be a great idea to celebrate Thanksgiving. Naturally, I volunteered to bring dessert.
A classic American pie was what came to mind, but no– my American colleague wanted something more interesting, more tropical. Challenge accepted.
Well, not the easiest of challenges I have to admit. After all, apple pie certainly ain’t broke, so it definitely didn’t need any fixing.
But tropical– the word conjured up in my mind fruits like lychee and pineapple. But what would work harmoniously with apple pie? I decided that the least invasive way was to incorporate coconut into the crust and topping.
I’m not going to give extremely detailed instructions for how to make and roll out pie dough (especially in warm weather). For that, you can always check out this Basics post I wrote a while back.
For the crust:
- 160g all-purpose flour
- 30g icing sugar
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 110g butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- About 1/4 cup coconut cream
For the filling:
- 6 Granny Smith apples
- Juice of one lime (approx. 1-2 tbsp)
- 75g soft brown sugar
- 25g flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the topping:
- 85g unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 150g soft brown sugar
- 1/4 cup oatmeal (I prefer the quick-cooking type for a finer texture, but rolled oats are fine too.)
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Makes a 9-inch pie.
Step 1: Make a dough from the crust ingredients and chill it; then, roll it out and transfer to your 9-inch pie dish. (Again, for detailed instructions, see this post. The ingredients here are slightly different, but the method is exactly the same.) If you have excess dough, roll it out and, using cookie cutters, cut out some decorative shapes for the top. Store all the dough elements in the fridge until ready to use.
Step 2: Begin preheating your oven to 220°C (430°F) and remove the rack. Then, you’ll want to “collapse” your apples first. This means to render out excess moisture from them so that your filling shrinks less in the oven. Missing out this step isn’t the end of the world, but you may get a pie with a huge hollow dome on top.
After 30 minutes, your apple cubes should have shrunk ever so slightly. But you should have collected quite a substantial amount of sugary apple juice in your bowl. Don’t throw away this juice. Instead, pour it into a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Let it boil ferociously until it reduces by half and becomes syrupy. Set aside to cool.
Step 3: During the 30-minute apple-collapse wait, you can make your coconut crumble topping. In a bowl, pour in the cold cubes of butter, the flour and the sugar. With the tips of your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub/cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Keep doing this until you get a mixture that looks like wet sand. Add in the oatmeal and desiccated coconut, and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Step 4: Finally, assembling the pie. Retrieve the pie crust you prepared earlier. To the cubed apples, mix in the flour, ground cinnamon, and most of the apple juice syrup, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Sprinkle the coconut crumble over the apples, covering everything evenly. Pat down on the crumble topping gently to even it out, but don’t go overboard because it’s meant to be crumbly. If you have extra dough cutouts, now’s the time to place them on the crumble topping. Finally, gently brush the remaining apple juice syrup over the top of the pie.
Step 5: To bake the pie, place it first on a metal sheet tray to catch any drips. Then place the pie (and tray, of course) on the floor of your preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. After that, remove the pie and replace the oven rack to the lowest position. Put the pie back into the oven and lower the heat to 175°C (350°F). Bake for a further 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes in case the top starts to get too brown. If that happens, just place a sheet of aluminium foil over the pie.
When the pie is done, remove it on the oven and cool on a rack for at least 2 hours. (If you refrigerate it overnight, you’ll get cleaner slices.)
Yes, it can be quite a task to make a pie, but the results are well worth it, especially for a special, tropical(-ish) pie like this one.