A family member has gone vegan and I am experimenting with vegan apple pie to make at thanksgiving.
I bought 2 frozen vegan/whole wheat pie crusts (ugh, I know - suggestions welcome on the crust options - no walnuts/pecans though) and sliced up granny smith apples for two pies. I mixed all the apples according to the recipe for "butterscotch apple pie" in the current Gourment magazine special: lots of brown sugar, cinnamon, touch of salt, lemon juice and vanilla.
One difference in the filling: for Pie # 1 I mixed in a small amount of white flour, for Pie #2 I mixed in the equivalent amount of cornstarch (half as much, according to the equivalent info on the cornstarch box.
For Pie #1, I pre-baked the crust on the bottom, then piled in the apples and put an oatmeal streusel/crisp-like topping (rolled oats, cinnamon, maple syrup, canola oil) on top. For Pie# 2 I just piled the apples directly into the pan and lay the crust on top and sprinkled it with granulated sugar (I hate soggy crust and thought this might make it better.
Cooked both for close to an hour at 400
The surprising results:
Pie #1: (Crust on bottom, oatmeal on top, flour in filling) Crust on bottom was delicious, not too soggy, in fact better because it had absorbed some apple-cinnamon deliciousness. Oatmeal crisp on top was not so great, dry/burned a little. Apples were cooked but not well-cooked/caramelized.
Pie #2 (crust on top, cornstarch in filling): apples underneath had cooked way way down into an amazing caramelized tarte tatin-like substance. Crust on top was ok, but a little bland and maybe too separate from the apples. Like a cookie on top of caramelized apples.
What explains the difference in the apples, and how do I get the best of all possible worlds? My theory -crust on bottom insulates apples more, so they don't cook down as much? My current plan is to pre-cook/caramelize a ton of apples before putting them in a slightly pre-baked crust and then cooking a little longer as a pie just to meld the two. Will skip the streusel topping which added nothing interesting. Maybe a lattice if I get ambitious?