Baking your gluten free apple pie in a bag ensures perfect fork-tender apples and a light and flaky, perfectly browned crust every time. Long live pie season!
Baking pie in a paper bag ?
You should know straight up that I haven’t ever burned my house down baking an apple pie in a paper bag. Don’t worry I’m only kidding a 375°F oven is not going to get the paper bag hot enough to have it burst into flames.
Just don’t even think about turning on the broiler with the paper grocery bag inside the oven. And keep the bag away from direct contact with the flame.
Baking your apple pie in a bag means that your apple filling is always always always perfectly tender. It also ensures that your crust is extra special flaky even without blind-baking the bottom crust.
Then, all that’s left to do is to tear open the top of the bag and finish baking. The crust will be absolutely positively the most gorgeous golden brown color you have ever seen in your life.
This is my favorite way to make a classic gluten free apple pie. But it’s far from the only way to make apple pie. Remember that we have a recipe for gluten free Dutch apple pie and even a recipe for handheld gluten free apple pies. Both of those recipes will produce a filling with more of a bite to it, unlike the super soft filling here.
And if you’re worried about rolling out pie crust, I have a how-to video for making extra flaky gluten free pie crust. The same techniques apply to the pie crust recipe here as they do in the extra flaky crust.
You can even double that recipe and use it in place of the double crust recipe below to make this pie. That’s what I did in the recipe video and it was amazing. That pie crust recipe is even easier to handle than the ice water recipe reprinted here, but both produce a light, flaky result.
Deep dish or standard shallow pie plate
When I first published this recipe on the blog in 2014, I baked it in a traditional shallow pie plate. In the video and newer photos, I used a deep dish pie plate.
In either a deep dish or standard pie plate, the baking time stays the same. The paper bag technique is designed to cook the apples perfectly by steaming them in the bag.
The crust is shielded from any direct heat of the oven until the inside is nearly completely cooked. The final 10 minutes of baking time is just to fully brown the crust.
If you decide to bake this apple pie in the sort of standard shallow pie pan you see above, you won’t use all of the sliced apples. Just cook the remaining apples down on the stovetop in a small heavy-bottom saucepan until tender.
As the filling mixture has sat in the bowl, some of the moisture has been drawn out of the apples. They shouldn’t need any additional liquid to be cooked separately. If you’re concerned about the apples burning, just add a splash of water to the pan.
Ingredients and substitutions
Despite having a few steps and stages, this is a relatively simple recipe. It’s naturally egg-free if you omit the egg wash, and actually has relatively little sugar added. However, there are a few substitutions you might like to make, so here’s the information I have on the subject:
Dairy-free: The apple pie filling is naturally dairy-free, but the crust calls for plenty of butter. My favorite dairy-free substitute for butter in pastry is Melt brand vegan butter. It has a similar moisture content to butter, and a great taste.
I don’t recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks for pie crust. They have a ton of moisture when tends to cause the crust to leak and never become flaky.
If you can’t find Melt, try using Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. You’ll definitely want to brush the crust with the egg wash, though, as shortening doesn’t brown particularly well.
Sugar-free: The only added sugar in this recipe is the half cup of granulated sugar in the filling. You can try replacing it with Swerve brand granulated sugar replacement.
Tapioca starch: You can replace the tapioca starch in the filling with arrowroot.
Classic Gluten Free Apple Pie
Double Pie Crust
3 cups (420 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I highly recommend Cup4Cup, my Better Than Cup4Cup blend, or my Mock Cup4Cup), plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled
3/4 to 1 cup cold water, iced (ice cubes do not count in volume measurement)
3 pounds medium-size Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (9 g) tapioca starch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon cold water, beaten) (optional)
Large paper grocery shopping bag, plus a stapler
First, make the pie crust. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add 3/4 cup of water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Add the remaining water by the teaspoon until no part of the dough is crumbly.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour, and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling it lightly with flour if it begins to stick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Twice more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. This will smooth out the dough and make it quite easy to handle. Divide the dough into two equal parts, wrap each separately in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Make the pie filling. In a large bowl, place the apples, sugar, salt, tapioca starch, and ground cinnamon, and toss to coat the apples evenly. Set the filling aside.
Assemble the bottom crust and filling. Grease a 9-inch metal pie plate generously and set aside. Remove one half of the pie crust from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll into a 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. Roll the pie crust loosely on the rolling pin and then unroll it over the prepared pie plate. Press the pie crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate and, with kitchen shears, trim the excess crust so that only 1/4-inch of excess is overhanging the plate. Tuck the 1/4-inch of excess either under the bottom crust edge and crimp the edge gently all the way around the crust. Arrange the apples filling on the bottom crust in concentric circles, overlapping one apple slice slightly over the previous one.
Shape the other crust and finish assembling the pie. Remove the other half of pie crust from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll it into a rough round about 3/8-inch thick and trim to 10-inches in diameter. Carefully lift the top crust and center it over the pie plate. Tuck the very edge of the pie crust under either the bottom crust or under itself. Crimp the edge all the way around and press together to seal the top and bottom crusts.* Place it in the freezer for 10 minutes (or the refrigerator for 30 minutes) to chill until firm.
*Note: At this point, the assembled raw pie can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month before baking and serving.
Brush the top crust and edges of the chilled pie generously with the optional egg wash. Place the paper bag open on its side, and slide the assembled and chilled pie inside so that the back edge of the pie is about 1-inch away from the bottom of the bag. Fold the bag opening over on itself and stable shut. Place the pie in the bag on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cut a large hole in the top of the to expose the top and sides of the pie. Return to the oven and bake until the pie is golden brown all over (about another 10 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly so the filling sets before slicing and serving.
Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe largely unchanged, most photos original, video and some text new.