Monday, November 1, 2010

Award Winning Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie

My winning pie.  We had to use aluminum pie plates for the contest, but usually I prefer to use a ceramic or glass pie plate.  I think the metal makes the crust taste a little strange.

And so the Vegan MoFo begins.  I'm determined to get back into updating this blog regularly, so this is just what I needed.  Well, I probably need a literal kick in the pants, but Vegan MoFo will have to do.  And now I'm going to have to watch my back as my friends come up behind and randomly kick me for the next few days reminding me that I asked for it...  I digress.  Back to vegan yumminess.

The Vancouver Farmers Market is awesome.  I mean, really, how could it not be, really?  Besides having quite a few markets around town in spring, summer and fall, there is also a winter market.  The winter market runs every single weekend this year, too!  Yay! (It's going to be Saturdays at Nat Bailey Stadium for any Vancouverites out there wondering how to get in on this.)  Not only can you get awesome produce, but the markets routinely have events.  There was an heirloom tomato festival and an apple festival at the markets this year for example.  The apple festival also had an apple pie contest which I decided to enter.  My pie was one of 8 pies in the contest and also the only vegan pie.  My vegan pie won the contest.  :)  

The lineup of pies in the contest.

The Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie that I entered is 100% my own recipe, crust and all.  I'm quite proud of it, actually.  I based it loosely on a Cherry Almond Pie that I made a couple of summers ago. I made an effort to use as many local ingredients as I could.  The apples and hazelnuts came from the farmers market and the cider is also a local brand.  If you don't have any hard cider or if you want a slightly different flavor, you can substitute the same amount of white wine and it'll turn out just fine.  The flavor will be a bit different though.  I did a taste test of fillings with some of my coworkers, one with cider and one with wine.  You'll want to add a bit more sugar if you're using wine unless you're using a sweet wine like a Riesling.  Alternatively, if you're serving this to kids, you can use just plain old apple cider, but make sure it's one that's made with only apple juice.  You don't want juice with added sugar or weird ingredients.

It's also important to us a really firm, crisp apple.  If you're not using the pink lady apples like I did, then I would suggest using granny smith.  If your apples are too soft, you'll end up with mush for the filling.

I won a Farmers Market canvas bag, 5 pounds of local apples and $50 in Farmers Market cash.  :)

Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie

2 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold, non-hydrogenated shortening (like Earth Balance)
1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
cold water to make ½ cup liquid

¾ cup sugar
1 cup hard, dry cider (like Strongbow)
4 Tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or half of a vanilla bean
6 large pink lady apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
¼ cup finely chopped hazelnuts

9” pie plate

To make the crust, sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the shortening into smallish pieces and cut into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs about the size of peas. Stir together the wet ingredients and add a few tablespoons at a time, mixing with a fork until all of the liquid has been incorporated. Give the dough a quick knead or three, you just want to make sure all the flour has been mixed in, you don't want to actually knead it much.

Divide the dough in half and flatten into discs. Cover them with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel and place them in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Once the dough is cold, take one of the discs and roll it out until it's large enough to fit into the bottom of your pie dish. Make sure there is a little bit of dough overlapping the edges of the dish so you can make a nice edge after you put the top bits on.  Put a piece of foil over the bottom crust and fill with pie weights (dried beans work for this, too).  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes and carefully remove the foil and weights from the crust.

Meanwhile, start making the filling. In a large pot over medium heat, add the cider, brown sugar and apples.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Again, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Gently fold in the cinnamon and vanilla.  Spoon the apple mixture into the pie plate.  Cut the non-hydrogenated margarine into small, pea-sized pieces and spread them out on top of the apples.  

Roll out the second half of the dough for the top crust.  If you’re not making a lattice crust, cut some small holes in the top crust so steam can escape.  

Now for the crust topping. Mix the non-dairy milk, sugar and hazelnuts in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for about 2 minutes and then immediately brush it onto the top crust of the pie. If you have one of those silicone brush thingies, this is an excellent use for it. The regular pastry brushes don't work as well since the sugar gets very thick. You can also use the back of a spoon to spread it around. Just make sure you work fast because the sugar is going to harden quickly as it cools and then you won't be able to spread it any longer.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let the pie cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!


  1. Goodness me! Award winning pie! Well done you. I'm loving the addition of cider.
    Happy MoFo'ing.

  2. Look at your awesome vegan pie winning non-vegan contests! Congrats!

  3. Congrats! That's the most amazing pie I have ever seen!

  4. Congratulations! Your pie looks tasty.

  5. That pie looks AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

  6. The crumbly topping on this pie really got me. For some reason I can't eat pies if they don't have a crumbly topping. I can't believe I've never thought of using apple cider in a pie; I don't know how it couldn't be delicious!

  7. Why do Americans only make sweet pies?

  8. They don't only make sweet pies. I make tons of savory pies for dinners all of the time. I made mini Harvest Pies for Thanksgiving last weekend full of squash and potatoes and such.

  9. Sounds yummy but Strongbow isn't vegan though....most ciders aren't

  10. Strongbow most certainly is vegan.