I have been without an oven for several weeks now. Seven to be exact. It died 15 minutes into the cooking a supper of stuffed shells. I’ve had 3 repairmen in to look at it. I’m currently waiting for a part that will hopefully fix the problem once and for all. Or perhaps there will be a slightly used wall oven sitting out on my front lawn with a post it note reading “free”.
Meanwhile… I’ve had to get creative with dinner prep. When the weather was a bit warmer we used the BBQ. But there are only so many grilled meats one can eat. Since the stove top still works, pasta has made many appearances in many different forms. I have even resurrected the crock pot and the Panini press from the small appliance graveyard in my basement. Pulled pork, stew and crusty sandwiches were great for a while but not family favourites. I roasted chicken and beef on the BBQ with great success.
But I miss baking. I miss it enough that I borrowed a neighbour’s oven to bake a banana cake. I miss it enough that I tried to make a pie this weekend… on my BBQ. I realize this sounds crazy, but what is Fall without apple pie? Desperate times call for desperate measures people! I started with a disposable pie plate and the same theory I used to roast the chicken: If indirect heat on the BBQ can achieve a beautiful crispy skin on a chicken, would the same method bake a pie? Well, there was only one way to find out.
I preheated the BBQ for 15 minutes getting it nice and hot. Then I turned off two of the four burners and placed the pie over the ones I had turned off. I closed the lid and hoped for the best. I rotated the pie after about 7 minutes to ensure even browning on the crust. After another 7 minutes of cooking I decided to reduce the heat on the burner closest to pie, turning it to low. I kept checking on the pie every 15 minutes, rotating it each time. Another 60 minutes of baking produced the results I was looking for; a nice golden crust with a softly cooked apple filling. I was a bit worried about the bottom crust, so I decided to reduce the heat on both remaining burners to low and slide the pie on top. I let it go for 10 minutes longer, just to be safe. I hate a mushy bottom crust.
I brought the pie into the kitchen and let it cool. I wasn’t sure how it would taste, but it exceeded my expectations. The crust was flakey and delicious. The filling was slightly overcooked for my taste, but still quite good. No complaints from the kids-they asked for seconds.
If you are going to attempt this at home I have some tips. Slice the apples slightly thicker than you normally would to accommodate for the longer cooking time. Make sure to rotate the pie throughout the cooking time to ensure even browning. Set a timer if you have to, it’s that important. If you are making your own pastry, try using a combination of pastry and all-purpose flour. It will hold up a bit better under the longer cooking time yet still produce a nice tender crust.
BBQ’d Fall Apple Pie
1 ½ cups (355ml) cake and pasty flour
½ cup (125ml) all -purpose flour
¾ cup (177ml) vegetable shortening (chilled)
1 tbsp (15ml) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup (60ml) ice water
3-4 large firm apples, such as Northern Spy or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced
3 tbsp (45ml) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10ml) cinnamon
Juice of ½ a small lemon
1 tbsp (15ml) cold butter, cut into small pieces
In a large bowl toss together apple slices, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon until apples are well coated. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine flours, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives cut shortening into flour until it resembles small peas. Add just enough of the ice water to allow the dough to come together when mixed. Gently gather dough into a ball, divide dough in half, wrap each half with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball of chilled dough into a circle large enough to line the bottom of your pie plate. Add apple slices and top with butter. Roll out remaining dough into a circle large enough to cover the apple filling with a ½ inch boarder. Pinch the bottom and top crust together with your fingers and cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
Preheat BBQ on high for 15 minutes. Turn off the burners on one side, place pie over those burners and close the lid. Rotate the pie after 5-7 minutes of cooking. Once the crust begins to brown, reduce the heat of the burner closest to the pie to low. Close lid and allow to cook until crust is golden brown, rotating the pie occasionally to ensure even browning.
Alternately, bake in a 425F (220C) preheated oven for 10 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Reduce heat to 375F (190C) and continue baking until crust is golden brown and apples are softened (check with a knife inserted into the center of the pie), about 30 -40 minutes longer.