I had this pie last week at our CSA year-end potluck. It was made with raw apples from the farm, and had no grain, sugar, or dairy. And it was delicious! I unashamedly hunted down the creator of this pie until I found her so that I could ask how she made this miraculous thing. The secret?
This was the pie that launched me into the world of dates-as-a-sweetener, and I knew I had to make it for Thanksgiving. A dessert that I can eat as much of as I want? Yes, please! My husband eagerly ate up 2 pieces of it, and my niece and nephew (who eat a Standard American Diet) both were really excited about it and wolfed their pieces down! THAT’S endorsement.
Now, if what you’re jonesing for is really a sugary-sweet pecan or chocolate cream pie or something – this obviously isn’t going to cut it. Without sugar, your brain won’t get that sugar high. But if what you want is a great fruit-based pie that even kids will love, you’ll love this. The nut crust adds a spicy, satisfying crunch that perfectly complements the sweet apples, and the sauce that covers the apples is really incredibly sweet and satisfying. It’s perfect!
The nut crust is made with nuts of your choice (I used pecans, walnuts, and almonds), spices, butter, and dates. Stick them all in the food processor and grind them up until they come together in a paste, and then press it into a pie plate. Dump it into the center of the plate, and then use your fingers to press it up against the sides. If you want to make this dairy-free (and thus vegan-friendly) leave out the butter and add more dates until the crust comes together.
Bake it at 350 for 10 minutes, until it’s all nice and fragrant, and then let it cool completely. (If you’re just using the dates and no butter, you don’t have to bake it if you don’t want to.)
After the crust is cooled, assemble the rest of the pie. Take 4-5 organic sweet apples and slice them up very thin. I used Gala apples, because they’re sweet, but they’re also a softer apple, which makes it easier to eat with a fork when raw.
The reason you want organic apples is that you leave the skins on. It adds great color and flavor! If you use non-organic apples you should peel them first.
Put them all in a large bowl and toss them with some Fruit Fresh. This is usually found in the canning or produce section of the grocery store, and is simply vitamin C. It prevents fruit from turning brown, so if you want your pie to stay pretty you want to use it! You could also use lemon juice, but then of course you’ll have more of a lemon flavor in the pie.
Put the apples aside and start on the sauce. In the food processor, put two of the Gala apples, 5 dates, and the juice of one lemon. I also put in a handful of juice-sweetened cranberries I got at the health food store, but that’s optional. You don’t have to soak the dates for this one.
Process the filling until it’s all combined. It’s okay to have some chunks of dates or cranberries left, though – it doesn’t have to be a perfectly smooth puree.
Pour the sauce over the apples and fold it in with a rubber spatula until it’s all evenly distributed.
Pour the filling into the crust, and pat it down firmly, arranging the apples as necessary to make it all fit together snugly.
At first the pie seems really loose, but after a couple hours in the refrigerator, it all gels together fairly well.
The only down side to this pie is that it doesn’t keep. You’ll want to eat it in one day, because the moisture from the filling will make the crust soggy, and the apples will get a little mushy, after a day. You can make the crust ahead of time if you want to, but the rest of it should be made the day you plan to eat it!
Raw Apple Pie
(For a dairy-free version, eliminate the butter and use more dates to bind the nuts together. You don’t have to bake the crust if you don’t use butter.)
- 2 1/2 cups raw nuts (I used pecans, walnuts, and almonds)
- 2 dates
- 3 Tbsp cold butter
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until it comes together in a sort of paste. (For a dairy-free crust, eliminate the butter and add more dates until it comes together.) Dump it in the center of a pie plate and press it evenly along the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes. If you didn’t use butter, the baking is optional.
- 6-7 organic Gala apples
- 5 dates
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp pure (sugar-free) vanilla extract
- handful of fruit-sweetened cranberries (optional)
- Fruit-Fresh or extra lemon juice
Slice 4-5 apples very, very thinly and put them in a large bowl. Toss the apples with Fruit-Fresh or lemon juice to prevent browning. In a food processor, combine 2 apples, the dates, the lemon juice, and the cranberries (if using) and process until combined. It should be evenly processed, but it’s okay if it’s not completely smooth. Fold the sauce in with the sliced apples until evenly covered, and then pour the filling into the fully cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for a few hours to let it set a bit more. Serve it the same day you make it, as it won’t keep very well.