My Favourite Apple Pie…Because Salted Caramel

It’s fall, which can only mean one thing in my kitchen: The return of soups, braises and PIE. Well, to be fair, pies are good every season but the fall yields some of the best in my book, like Salty Honey, Maple and Apple. I never understood the saying “Easy as Pie.” There is a science to pie-making that starts with the perfect dough and extends all the way to the lattice top. It actually took me years to perfect my process and I still make mistakes. In fact, my advice to any novice pie maker is to make a ton of pies and then come back and ask me for my secrets! One of the obvious ones is investing in a pie cookbook. For five years, I have stained up the pages of my Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. In fact, I’ve mentioned it before here. The book is based on seasonal pies and really walks you through the entire pie-making process. For Thanksgiving, I decided to make two pies in two days because I like a baking challenge. The hero was easily the Salted Caramel Apple Pie. I don’t know if it’s a nostalgia thing, but people love them some apple pie this time of year. I don’t even touch pumpkin anymore as I’m the only one who eats it and no, I don’t need an entire pie to myself no matter how good it is. The best part about apple pie? It gives me a reason to bring out this beautiful apple peeler!
I think what makes this apple pie different than others is the addition of salted caramel. I do go off-script and use another caramel recipe that I’ve come to love over the years. It’s a dry one vs. wet, meaning it doesn’t use any water. You can find it  here. It’s a beautiful deep copper sauce that’s nutty and rich.
All this to say, you don’t have to fear pie-making! It has been done for years and years and years for a reason. Be sure to keep your dough cold and not overworked and the rest will be easy as…well, you know.

ALL BUTTER CRUST from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ice

Method

Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend). Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE PIE from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe here)
  • 6 to 7 Granny Smith apples (about 2 1/2 pounds) – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (like Maldon), plus more for finishing
  • One All-Butter Crust for a 9-inch double-crust pie, above
  • Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt)
  • Raw sugar, for finishing

Method

Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the bottom and center thirds of the oven. Dredge the apple slices in the lemon juice. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside to soften slightly and release some of the juices, 20 to 30 minutes. In a large bowl, sprinkle the Angostura bitters over the raw sugar. Add the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, kosher salt and flour, and mix well. Add the prepared apples to the sugar-spice mixture, leaving behind any excess liquids. Gently turn the apples to evenly distribute the spice mix. Tightly layer the apples in the prepared pie shell so that there are minimal gaps, mounding the apples slightly higher in the center. Pour a generous 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of caramel sauce evenly over the apples (use the larger quantity if you like a sweeter pie). Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the flaky sea salt. Assemble the lattice on top of the pie and crimp the edges as desired. Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry. Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coast, being careful not to drag the caramel in to the pastry (it will burn). Sprinkle with the desired amount of Demerara sugar and flaky sea salt. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375 °F, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Test the apples for doneness with a skewer or sharp knife, they should be tender and should offer just the slightest resistance. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for 3 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature. The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or room temperature for 2 days.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s