Monday, November 25, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie portrait

You might be asking, another pie??  But it's pie season, and this one is so good!  This is not just any apple pie, but one with homemade salted caramel stirred into the filling, and additional caramel poured on top when served.  The big apple slices hold their shape and juiciness, and the caramel makes the filling wonderfully saucy.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This pie is also different because I finally decided to test-drive a recipe for a yogurt-butter crust, and I can report that it is super flaky and easy to roll out.  It wasn't so easy to assemble.  For the first time I used a handheld pastry blender like the recipe called for, rather than my food processor.  I've concluded that I'm lazy and prefer the machine, plus I feel like the machine works the dough less.  And we all know that working the dough less ensures tender pastry.  Also, while the yogurt works as a tenderizer, there simply wasn't enough moisture to bring the dough together.  I added about a quarter-cup extra water along with another teaspoon of yogurt.  I could chalk this up to the awfully dry conditions at home during fall and winter.  But continuing to work in the extra liquid made me afraid I was overworking the dough.  The pastry still came out tender, but next time I'll go the lazy route and use the machine.

Puff Pastry Apple Tartlet
Part of my autumn pie madness: puff pastry apple tartlets thrown together at a moment's notice
Finally, the caramel is simple to make, and I didn't even break out my candy thermometer.  But if you're short on time, I think storebought salted caramel would work just as well.  One last tip: I'm always afraid of crystallization when making caramels and syrups, so I put the lid on the pot for 2 minutes during the vigorous stage of boiling -- the steam builds up and washes down the sides, along with any crystals that have formed.  Both the pie dough and the caramel can be made a day or so in advance, and refrigerated until needed. Microwave the caramel to make it warm and pourable before using.  Have a good Thanksgiving, folks, and may it be filled with pie.

Looking for other Thanksgiving dessert ideas?  Here's a few:

Thanksgiving Collage


Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Adapted from Williams Sonoma

2 rounds of pie crust rolled out to ⅛-inch thickness (the recipe I used is posted below)
1 egg beaten, for egg wash

For the apples
4 lbs Golden Delicious or Mutsu apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
3 tbs cornstarch

For the caramel
1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup light corn syrup
6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
½ tsp. coarse salt
½ cup heavy cream

Prepare the pie shell. Transfer one dough round to a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate and tuck into the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim. Refrigerate the pie shell for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the apples. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Don't add the cornstarch yet!  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Transfer apples to a large bowl to cool to room temperature. They will be a little tender, and finish cooking in the oven.  Stir in the cornstarch.

Make the caramel. Have ready a large saucepan with enough room for the caramel to bubble up.  Over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Cook for 9 minutes total -- after the first 2 minutes, don't stir or the mixture will crystallize.  At that point you can carefully (remember the sugar is hot enough for hospital-level burns) pick up the pot and gently swirl as needed.  When the caramel has come to a vigorous boil, put the lid on for 2 minutes to allow steam to build up and wash any crystals down the sides, then remove the lid. When the 9 minutes are up, move the pot off the heat.  Carefully stir in ¼ cup of the cream, and expect the hot caramel to sputter and bubble up.  Then stir in the remaining ¼ cup cream. Let cool until just warm before using.

Assemble the pie. Pour ¾ cup of the caramel into the bowl of apples and stir to combine.  Reserve the remaining caramel for serving; you'll have a little more than half of the original batch left.  Pour the apple filling into the pie shell and place the top crust over the pie. Trim the edges flush with the rim and press the top and bottom crusts together. With a paring knife, cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape during baking.  Brush the entire top crust with egg wash.  Chill the pie in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven.

Bake. Preheat oven to 400°.  Place the pie dish on a baking sheet. Bake about 1 hour, until the crust is golden.  After 30 minutes, check the pie and tent it with foil if the top and edges become too dark. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2½ hours before serving.  Reheat the reserved caramel sauce and serve with the pie for anyone who wants to drizzle on extra.

Flaky Yogurt-Butter Pie Dough
By Alice Medrich, from Food & Wine magazine's November 2012 issue

Note: Medrich's recipe called for bleached flour -- she notes she's not crazy about bleaching but it does create the flakiest crust.  I used unbleached.  I'll also use the food processor in the future to make this.

6 oz (1¼ cups) bleached all-purpose flour
8 tbs cold unsalted butter — 5 tbs cut into ¼-inch dice, the rest left whole
¼ cup cold plain whole yogurt (not Greek-style)
½ tsp coarse salt

Measure the flour into a glass or ceramic bowl and freeze for 15 minutes. Freeze the 3-tablespoon-size chunk of butter for 15 minutes. Put the 5 tablespoons of diced butter on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the yogurt and salt with 1 tablespoon of cold water and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the diced butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using your hands, rub the mixture between your hands until all of the fat is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles fine oat flakes. Very thinly slice the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and freeze the slices for 5 minutes.

Add the butter slices to the bowl. Toss gently to separate the slices and cut once or twice to combine them with the flour; the slices should remain cold and intact. Drizzle the cold yogurt into the bowl, using a rubber spatula to stir and toss as you drizzle. Continue tossing the dough, scraping any off the spatula and the side of the bowl, until it is crumbly and evenly moistened. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight, or freeze for 1 month.

11 comments:

  1. oo my lord...that apple pie looks so decadent and irresistible! Gosh, the melt-in-mouth crust and that caramel apple filling...a heavenly match!

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    1. Thank you! The caramel filling is pretty heavenly.

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  2. Oh my look at that slice. I love salted caramel, the sweetness with a hint of saltiness is such a pleasant flavour.

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    1. Yes! And I feel like the salt prevents the caramel from tasting overly sugary.

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  3. YES to anything with salted caramel. I wish you could come over and make one of these for me for Thanksgiving! :)

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    1. If you were north of the Mason-Dixon line, I'd say, let's do it! ;) I even gave away a jar of just the caramel as a party hostess gift -- it went over verrry well.

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  4. What a fancy loooking apple pai...
    i always love salted caramel, if you put brown butter within thi....
    literrary my taste buds will blown away!
    great photograph too!

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  5. Salted caramel!!!! My gosh it sounds like the best apple pie ever. The filling and topped with salted caramel I think I'd go for second without doubt!

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    1. I've always been a fan of old-fashioned apple pie, but I think this has got to be my new favorite apple pie. Thanks, Nami!

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  6. Looks very tempting :) I haven't made an apple pie for ages..

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