It is officially October and OH MY GOODNESS! I can’t wait to share this recipe, I am in love. I’m obsessed with everything and anything Fall. It’s my favorite time of year when the weather gets cooler, those sweaters finally get to come out of the closet, and everyone starts feeling excited about the Holiday season to come. Plus, I can never get enough of pumpkin. But let’s save that for another post, because today I have for you another fall favorite: Apple Pie!
My friend Mikey hates chocolate (what??!?! is he human???). So for his birthday, he suggested an Apple Pie instead. Ok, simple. I’ve never made a pie from scratch, but how hard could it be? Cut up some apples, pour it into a pie crust, and stick it in the oven… Right?
The gist of pie making is pretty straightforward, but I had no idea it could be so fickle and difficult. I now have much greater respect for The Pie Hole employees, and all the grandmas/mommies out there who slave away on Thanksgiving so their families can have the perfect pie.
Of course, by no means am I suggesting this recipe is too difficult to follow for beginners or that the end result wasn’t worth all the effort — because it was. But I guess I never realized before how much research, time, and work goes into creating a great pie recipe. Below I have broken down the pie making process into the three most important steps to creating a great pie. If you’re new to pie making, READ THIS.
PART 1: CRUST
While doing research, I came across so many blogs that tested what adding different ingredients would do to the texture of a pie crust or whether or not hand mixing or blending in a food processor might yield a better crust. I decided on looking for an all around foul proof pie crust recipe, which I found at Food52 courtesy of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Cook’s Illustrated. The special ingredient here is a little bit of vodka, which, combined with water creates a very wet and sticky pie crust. I found this dough much harder to work with because of this. But once baked, the vodka will evaporate and leave you with a stunning crust.
PART 2: APPLE FILLING
My next issue was what kind of apples to use. Some people suggested Gala while others used McIntosh. In the end I chose Golden Delicious thanks to this helpful blogpost from (once again) Kenji, over at The Food Lab. Kenji tested 10 different apples from 1-10. Golden Delicious was rated the highest at 8. On my own, I tried making mini tarts with Fuji apples. I wanted to see for myself why tart apples are better for pie making than sweeter ones. I’m a huge fan of fuji, but the mini pies did not stand up to the taste test. It really is true. A tart apple gives the pie a much needed bite, and the sweetness from an apple like a fuji is not really needed thanks to the sugar already added into the filling.
PART 3: BAKING
One of the biggest problems with an apple pie is that sometimes certain recipes can result in a soggy/watery crust. Here are a few tips to prevent this:
(1) After lining your pie pan with the dough, keep it in the freezer till right before you plan on filling the pie with the apples and putting it into the oven.
(2) Before pouring in the filling, brush the bottom of the pie crust with an egg wash. This helps to create a barrier between the filling and crust.
(3) Placing your pie on the lowest rack in the oven helps to cook the bottom crust thoroughly.
(4) If the filling is too runny, add cornstarch to thicken it.
(5) At first, bake the pie at a high temperature for 10-15 min so the crust has time to set, then lower to a normal temperature for the rest the baking time.
I can easily see this recipe becoming a classic favorite of mine to make for dinners or other special occasions. Everyone should try a homemade pie at least once!
Caramel Apple Pie
I N G R E D I E N T S :
I N S T R U C T I O N S :
Preheat oven to 425°F.
For the pie crust, use a food processor (my Ninja Blender worked just as well) to combine 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse twice to mix dry ingredients. Add in the butter and vegetable shortening, pulsing about 10 times and making sure to scrape down the sides. Stop once the dough looks similar to cottage cheese curds and there is no longer any loose flour. Add in remaining 1 cup of flour and continue to pulse till thoroughly combined (about 4-6 pulses).
Empty the dough mixture into a bowl and add the vodka and water. Use a spatula to combine the liquid into the dough using a folding motion. Don’t be alarmed if the dough appears very sticky and wet, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
Next, prepare the apple pie filling. Peel and core 8 apples. To make this process faster, I peeled the apples and then used a slicer/corer tool similar to this. Place the apple slices in a large bowl and add the demerara sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Toss the mixture till the apple slices are all evenly coated, then transfer to a large pan over medium heat. Keep the pan covered, only removing it to mix the apple slices every so often. Cook until the apple slices are soft and tender. For me this took about 10-15 minutes. In the mean time, dissolve the cornstarch with cold water in a small bowl. When the apples are ready, pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan and mix well, making sure there are no clumps of cornstarch. Then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
One of the best parts about this pie was the caramel sauce added to it. To make it, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring lightly to combine the ingredients only for the first few minutes. After, resist the urge to continue mixing and leave the ingredients to combine on their own. Once the entire mixture begins to bubble, remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. After incorporated, add in the rest of the heavy cream and set aside.
Now, take the pie dough from the refrigerator. Split the dough into two equal parts. Very generously dust a cutting board with flour and roll out one of the dough balls. The dough will be very sticky, so use flour to coat your hands, rolling pin, and top of the dough as needed.
Doing your best to form a circle, roll out the dough so it extends about about 1/2 an inch farther than the circumference of the pie pan you’re using (this amount of the dough works best for a 9 inch pan, 9.5 inches at most). Place the pie pan upside down so it fits just inside the edges of the rolled out dough. Make sure the dough will easily detach from the cutting board. Invert the pie pan and cutting board so that the pie pan is now on the bottom. Slowly remove the cutting board, letting the dough fall into place inside the pie pan. Create an even edge for the dough around the lip of the pie pan. As needed, pull small pieces of dough from the sides that have excess and add it to the sides that don’t have enough dough. Create an egg wash by whisking one egg in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the bottom of the pie crust with the egg wash. This helps prevent the pie crust from getting soggy while baking.
If at this point, your caramel has hardened and is no longer liquid, reheat the caramel over the stove. Then pour about 3/4 of the caramel over the apple pie filling and mix gently. Pour the filling into the pie pan and set aside.
To make the lattice top, roll the dough out using the same process above. After reaching the appropriate size, use a knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough into thick, even strips. Place them one at a time over the filling and create your lattice. If you’re not sure how to weave the lattice crust, check out this video here. Remove any overhanging strips of dough from the lattice. Make sure to blend the lattice strips with the dough around the edge, then use a fork (or whichever method you prefer) to create indents around the edge. Brush the egg wash all over the top of the crust.
Place on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F. Remove from oven and cover the edges of the pie with foil to protect them from burning. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 35-45 minutes. After removing from oven, it’s very important to let the pie cool for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) before cutting. This allows the caramel and filling to set so that when cut, the filling doesn’t fall ooze all over. I wanted to shoot the pie before the sun set, and only gave it about 1 hour to cool before cutting into it. That’s why the piece doesn’t look “intact”. After a day of sitting in the fridge, the next slice I cut was solid and held together very well.
Top with whipped cream and drizzle on some warm caramel and this baby is ready to meet your belly (:
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