I’m not sure what business apples have growing right now in Redondo Beach, CA, but when my husband texted me the other day, “Hey Sue, I just picked some apples from our school’s community garden tree, do you think you can make a pie?”, I figured, why not? I’ll make an apple-black liquorice pie and bring it to Fiesta Friday #22. Just what you would do in the middle of summer, right?
The poor fella thinks he’s getting a normal All-American apple pie, but he’s not, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. See I’ve had black liquorice on my brain ever since reading about New York’s $10 latte — the libation made with the wonderfully sweet and pungent raw Danish black liquorice powder called Lakrids, served at Budin, and I wanted to see if I could incorporate the flavor of black liquorice into a pie.
I thought since fennel paired well with apples, that the flavor of wild fennel (which I thought was the same as liquorice) would pair well with apple in a pie. Also my husband was really going to town on the black liquorice chews I’d bought for my homemade attempt at the $10 latte, so I thought he might like it in his apple pie!
It all started with our walk a couple weeks ago when we spotted acres of wild anise growing on the side of the road and the smell was making me dizzy (in a good way) . . . which led to wild fennel tea . . . and deviled eggs with fennel pollen. Then I read about the Danish liquorice latte and made one at home earlier this week.
As I was researching black liquorice, however, I was really surprised to find that it is not botanically related to fennel, even though the flavor is almost identical. The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. Most liquorice is actually used as a flavoring agent for tobacco. Liquorice in candy/chew form is popular in Scandinavian countries, and in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink.
Liquorice is reported to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach ulcers, as well as bronchitis. It is also used topically to treat skin disorders such as excema and psoriasis. Moreover, liquorice extract is a known natural brightening agent for skin pigmentation disorders or irritation.
I thought the liquorice flavor, with apples, would pair nicely with a rye flour crust, so I made an all-butter crust with half whole grain rye flour (that I got, freshly milled, at San Francisco’s The Mill, a joint venture between Josey the Baker and Blue Bottle Coffee).
Here’s the Recipe:
Let the pie cool for at least 1/2 hour. Serve with raw apple slices and raw fennel fronds if you like, which nicely brightens the earthiness of the rye crust.
*Update: he liked it!