Sometimes things happen that are beyond serendipitous. This weekend was one of those things; or maybe the verb was was it was, the happened part. I’m not sure–it was mostly just serendipitous. Roanoke is full of such good people and I’m constantly surprised and amazed at the goings-on and the folks involved in the goings-on. Friday night was the Star City Alley Cat which I raced in, and which was also my first alley cat in two years or so, and it was just one big party on two wheels. I met tons of new people, got lost and then found my way back (hooray, I’m learning the streets!), attempted to skate down a half pipe (mostly just fell on my arse), swung on a trapeze, drank a shot of white vinegar (surprising not as bad as you’d think), and just had a good time all around. Afterward was the inaugural Starbomb which is modeled after Portland’s Zoobomb (Mill Mountain has a zoo, and a giant neon star, on top of it). Let me tell you, riding down a several mile mountain on a little kids bike with a banana seat and coaster brakes is harder than it looks. But oh. so. much. fun. It’s just wonderful to meet crazy, friendly, bike-obsessed people in this little sleepy mountain town. Things are happening here and I get to be a part of it. For the first time, I feel like there’s a reason why I’m here, and that is oh so comforting.

Part of the weekend also involved me trying out my hand at gluten free baking. Don’t worry, I’m still gluten addicted, but I’ve reason to experiment and, after grabbing some just-picked Golden Delicious apples from the farmers market to go with my Granny Smiths, I figured “why not a pie?” This time I used the Bob’s Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour for the crust, which worked out ok in the end, but I’m really dissatisfied with the crumbly nature of it. I prepared the crust like I would any pie crust, but rolling it out was a nightmare. The only thing that saved the attempt was the parchment paper I just picked up from the store. At least by rolling it on top of parchment paper I could transfer the crust to the pan. There’s just got to be a recipe out there that doesn’t crumble. Quinoa flour was mentioned. Any thoughts?

Thankfully the pie was delicious–sweet, but not too sweet, tart, spicy, and, yes, crumbly, but in a good apple crumble kind of way. Most recipes call for more sugar, but I like my pies to really highlight the fruit. So if you like your sweets a bit sweeter, I would add a 1/4 cup more of agave nectar. And to roll out the crust? Well, it just took a lot of patience, some water dribbled on the pastry, and tons of gluten free flour coating the rolling pin.¬† (Oh, and sorry I don’t have a sliced pie picture–we ate it before I remembered to get a shot!)

Gluten Free Apple Pie

adapted from Melinda’s Martha’s Apple Pie

For the pie pastry:
2 1/2 c all-purpose gluten free flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c Earth Balance
1/4 to 1/2 c ice water

For the filling:
2 tbsp all-purpose gluten free flour
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, sliced
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 c agave nectar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add Earth Balance, and use a pastry blender to blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water slowly, while gently stirring with a spatula just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Be careful not to over-work the dough. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll out pastry into two 1/8-inch-thick circles to a diameter slightly larger than that of an 11-inch plate. Press one pastry circle into the pie plate.

In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, lemon zest and juice, spices, and flour. Toss well. Spoon apples into pie pan. Trim edges of crust to make neat circle, with top slightly larger than bottom. Seal by gently folding top layer around the edge of the bottom shell and pinching edges with fingers and thumb to make a pretty fluted edge. Cut several steam vents across top.

Bake until crust is brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

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