Apple harvest time arrives at the best and worst time on our Wisconsin farm and B&B, Inn Serendipity. As four bushels of apples sit on my front porch, I’m reminded of all those right reasons: the crisp flavor of fresh apples, appreciation of the harvest bounty and the tempting aroma of a pie baking in the oven.
Apple pies baking in the oven. That’s where I remember the “worst of time” mantra: apple season, like everything else on the farm this time of year, arrives during that crazy-busy, over-abundant time of year called “fall.” The final bounty of garden booty needs harvesting, along with a mile-long laundry list of farm chores that need wrapping up before the winter winds start to blow. Not ideal timing to be in the kitchen rolling piecrust. Actually, I can’t even see my counter top to roll a crust this time of year, as it is overloaded with tomatoes, zucchini and everything else in need of processing.
But don’t think this chaos of fall causes me to give up on pie making. The secret? Simplify the process. Our Inn Serendipity house favorite from our Edible Earth cookbook, Oat Apple Pie, serves up a good example of super simple pie making, as it doesn’t call for a rolled piecrust. Rather, the crust is pressed oatmeal dough, kind of like apples wrapped in a big, chewy oatmeal cookie. By rethinking the traditional pie model, you now have both cookies and pie wafting from the oven. Priceless.
Here’s the recipe, made from basic ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. I easily adapt this for vegan B&B guests by substituting vegan margarine for the butter. This is also a great recipe for beginning pie-makers (and folks like myself with produce piling up on the counter) as there is no rolled crust.
Oat Apple Pie
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar
¾ c. butter, melted
½ c. oats (I like whole oats best)
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 ¼ c. water
3 c. diced apples (peeled or unpeeled — your preference)
1 t. vanilla extract
* Combine the first four ingredients; set aside 1 c. for topping.
* Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9-in. pie plate, set aside.
* For the filling, combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in apples and vanilla.
* Pour into crust; top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Photo credit: John Ivanko