Salted Caramel Apple Pie

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Remember the super nice folks that sent me the Holiday Cookbooks? Well, they also sent me two amazing pie cookbooks. (Stay tuned for your chance to win them!).

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Since I already had a pie recipe in mind, I decided to give one of the many crust recipes in the cookbooks a try. I settled on a butter/shortening recipe, because those are usually may favorite and the easiest to work with for pie crust novices like me. Have I mentioned lattice pie crusts are the bane of my existence? I had pretty much given up on ever making a pretty one.

Well, much to my surprise, this lattice top looks pretty damn nice and my coworkers kept complimenting me on it. The dough was easy to work with which made it easy to lay the strips down without breakage, and the finished product is buttery and flakey thanks to the butter and shortening combination. The salted caramel in the pie was a nice addition, and the lemon juice added just enough tartness to keep it from being cloyingly sweet.

This is definitely a pie I’ll be making again soon!

Crust Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cold water

Crust Preparation

  1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times to cut in the butter.
  2. Remove the lid and fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting it up from the bottom of the bowl. Scatter the shortening pieces over the flour and pulse the machine 6 or 7 times. Remove the lid and fluff the mixture again.
  3. Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture and pulse the machine 5 or 6 times. Remove the lid, fluff the pastry, and sprinkle on the rest of the water. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times more, until the pastry starts to form clumps. Overall, it will look like coarse crumbs. Dump the contents of the processor bowl into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Test the pastry by squeezing some of it between your fingertips. If it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the pastry and work it in with your fingertips. Using your hands, pack the pastry into 2 balls, as you would pack a snowball. Make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be your bottom crust. Knead each ball once or twice, then flatten the balls into ¾-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling. About 10 minutes before rolling, transfer the pastry to the freezer to make it even firmer.

To mix by hand: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients; toss. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of split peas. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all of the fat is cut into small pieces. Sprinkle half of the water over the dry mixture; toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture. Add the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Pastry made by hand often needs a bit more water, so add it 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time-if it seems necessary-until the pastry can be packed. Form the pastry into balls, as instructed above, then shape and refrigerate as directed.

Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.

Salted Caramel Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (recommended: Maldon sea salt flakes)

Salted Caramel Preparation
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper.

Cook’s Note: This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. (They’re not kidding. After 30 minutes I decided to turn the heat up a bit and it still took a while.) Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve burned it and you’ll have to start over.

Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream – the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam – be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.

Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.

Filling Ingredients
4 to 6 lemons
5 to 6 medium to large apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/3 cup raw sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Filling Preparation
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Cook’s Note: A mandolin works great for producing very thin slices. (I used the apple peeler/slicer/corer with the handle that you turn–I love it!)

Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.

In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.

Assemble the Pie
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).

Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Cook’s Note: Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.

Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.

Let the pie cool, then slice and enjoy.

Crust recipe from Apple Pie by Ken Haedrich.

Pie recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds via Cooking Channel.