Laurel Herman
Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine

The Perfect, Imperfect, Vegan, Gluten Free, Drunken Apple Pie

Veg, Gluten Free, Drunken Apple Pie Photo credit, Laurel Herman

Well I guess the title says it all. I could stop right there. But all great dishes have a story and this is no different. I like to play with my food and sometimes I cheat. I like to  break rules.  This is for those of you with a Rebel Spirit.  By the way,  I bow in awe at the feet of  my chef friends who really can bake, I know they would probably gasp if they saw this, I can feel the eye rolls. Don’t worry, I know my place.

I am a big fan of slight (and sometimes more than slight) imperfections. It’s like leaving a few lumps in the mashed potatoes just to show they are real and you are human. I like that. Often I just throw things together. I’ll look at basic ingredients and in my head I am already calculating healthier, adaptable ingredients, like making something vegan, or gluten free, or to suit a clients allergies. 


I never drink alcohol. However, My girlfriend came over for dinner the other night and brought a bottle of Moscato d’ Asti. Maybe it was all that kosher wine my grandmother drank, I like sweet, so what, right?  That went down easy, and a bit too fast. Damn! That was good! Three glasses later…..

Which brings me to this last minute pie that I wasn’t going to bake.  I went to my old store,  grabbed a frozen gluten free pie shell and to work I went. I has to be dairy free, and by the way there are no measurements.  Preheat the oven to 325.  Here’s how it went down: 


6 apples peeled  I had fujis  on hand so that’s what I used

brown sugar, eh, about a handful and another handful for the  crumb topping

cinnamon to taste, a few sprinkles but I like more

coconut oil  approx 2 tablespoons

juice of one lemon

Gluten free pie crust

2 cups gluten free flour

Moscato d’ Asti

Peel the  apples and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and squeeze that lemon in. Mind the seeds please!

In s separate bowl add the flour, another handful of brown sugar, and more of that cinnamon. Add in the coconut oil (it should be soft, solid, not cold.) Quickly rub it in to the flour to form loose crumbs. Taste it. Add a little more coconut oil if it’s too dry.

Place the apples in the pie crust, and top with crumb mix. Bake for about 30 mins

Insert expletive here: OH ______ the apples are still not softening! Hurry, take it out of the oven, grab a little knife and pour a little Moscato a tablespoon at a time, around the pie. Bake a further 11-12 minutes. until it bubbles. Its done, and its yum.

About the Author
Laurel Herman is Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. A lifelong career in food, Laurel had the unique experience of being the only woman in a kitchen brigade of 30 men, ( 40 years ago) earning their respect and affection through hard work and determination. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She currently teaches at various venues throughout the Richmond area. She is a strong believer that one way we can fight racism and bigotry of any kind is by helping people have access to clean and abundant food, supporting farmers markets and local vendors. Although not a chef himself, her favorite mythological character is Robin Hood, the revolutionary defender of social equality. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
Related Topics
Related Posts