Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week! When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of turkey, mashed potatoes, candied carrots, and, of course, pie. And what’s the most American kind of pie? That’s right-apple! Admittedly, I’ve always been hesitant to tackle this holy grail of desserts. I’ve made certain parts of a pie from scratch before, but never the whole sch bang. So this Thanksgiving was the year to give it a shot. Overall I think it turned out well! If you are afraid to tackle a pie from scratch, don’t be too hesitant. It does present some challenges, but nothing you can’t handle. See the notes and tips section at the end of the post to learn from my mishaps and read on to learn more about my experience!
I was initially attracted to this recipe because it had “caramel” in the title. As it turns out, it wasn’t all that caramely but the sauce did keep the pie filling deliciously moist, so I could live with that. As it turned out, it was a delicious, more classic apple pie with a great filling. When making the pie, I tried to use as few “specialty tools” as possible but there were a few things that I would suggest. One would be a pastry cutter to help make the pie dough. I attempted to purchase one to make this pie crust but the store was all sold out. So my makeshift tools were a large fork and my hands. Second, I would recommend slicing the apples on a mandolin slicer. It’s a little extra work but the thin layers of apple really made the pie hearty. Do set aside about 2 hours to make this pie-it’s well worth it! Enjoy!
The Ultimate “Caramel” Apple Pie
Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-caramel-apple-pie-recipe/index.html
Serves: 8-10 servings
Ingredients for Crust:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
- 1 egg separated (yolk for pastry and whites for glaze)
- 10 tablespoons of ice water, plus more if needed
Ingredients for Caramel Apples:
- 1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 for the top
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, halved
- 8 apples (recommended granny smith, gala, or honey crisp)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1.) To make the crust, combine the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the chunks of cold butter with a pastry cutter, a little at a time until well incorporate. The dough should resemble coarse cornmeal. Next add the egg yolk and the ice water and mix until the dough comes together. You know it will be ready if you pinch some of the dough and it holds together. Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will get tough. You should be able to see some marbling of butter and flour in the dough. This marbling will make the dough flaky. Note: for this step you may use more or less than the 10 tablespoons of water.
2.) Separate the pastry dough into 2 round discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator while you work on the apples.
3.) To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and place on medium-low heat. Stir only a few times until the sugar has melted and is caramelized, about 10 minutes.
4.) Once the sugar has turned an amber color, remove from the heat and slowly add the red wine and heavy cream. The sugar mixture will be hot so when you add the cream and wine it may spit. When the sauce has calmed down, return it to the burner and add the vanilla extract. Heat the sauce until the wine and caramel are smooth and continue to cook until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool until thickened.
5.) While the sauce is cooling, fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the lemon halves into the bowl. Peel and core the apples and place in the lemon water to prevent browning. Slice the apples very thinly using a knife or mandolin. Toss the sliced apples with flour and cinnamon.
6.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator. Let the dough sit for a few minutes to warm up so it will be pliable enough to roll out. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch circle. Fold dough around the rolling pin and lay it inside a 10 inch, glass pin pan. Lightly press dough into pan so it fits.
7.) Cover the bottom of the pastry with a thin layer of apples, overlapping them and ensuring there are no gaps or air pockets. (Tip: If the apples are thinly sliced, when the pie bakes, the apples will collapse on top of each other and that will make a dense pie). Ladle about 2 ounces of the cooled caramel wine sauce over the apples. Repeat layers of the sliced apples and sauce until the pie pan is slightly overfilled (the apples will shrink down as the pie bakes). Top the apples with small chunks of the butter.
8.) Take out the remaining disc of pastry dough and roll out with a rolling pin. Brush the bottom pastry crust with a little beaten egg while to help form a good seal. Place the other pastry on time of the pie. Seal the top and bottom crust together with a fork or any other fancy seal, if you’d like. Trim off any extra pastry that is handing over the edge of the pan with a knife or kitchen shears. Cut a few slits in the top pastry to allow steam to escape while baking. Place the pie on a baking sheet and place pieces of aluminum foil around the crust so it does not burn.
9.) Bake the pie for 25 minutes on the middle rack. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Remove the foil from around the crust and brush the pie top with a pastry brush and egg white. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture and bake for 25 more minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the pie is golden brown and bubbling slightly. Let the pie cool for at least 1 hour to let it set before you cut into it.
Notes and Tips:
- For the apples, I used 6 granny smith and 2 honey crisp to add a little dimension to the flavor and texture of the pie. I found the apples still had good texture to them after cooked.
- Slicing the apples on a mandolin slicer is one of the best moves to make for this pie! The thin slices really stack up and make for a meaty, tasty pie.
- When making the caramel wine sauce for the apples, be sure to cook the sauce on medium-low heat. I ended up overheating the first batch of my sauce and it burned and turned into hard candy in the pot. Just be sure to watch the sugar closely at it caramelizes and stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- As far as the crust goes, I was always most nervous about making it. Overall just make sure you have a pastry cutter or food processor to help bring the dough together. And don’t over mix-that can make the crust tough.
- The pie can be stored at room temperature, covered, for 2 days. If you still haven’t eaten the pie after two days (shame on you), you can store it in the refrigerator, covered for an additional two days.