Caramel Apple Pie..Oh My!

I love to bake! You have clearly seen my love of cooking, especially italian food, but thats nothing compared to my love of baking. I actually went to Cambridge Culinary School my senior year of college to get a certificate in baking. So, I had a lovely weekend, full of stress and drama, which I hate. My idea of relaxation is baking, I find it to be very zen. There is nothing more meditative than people baking something that is very involved, and nothing could be more involved then a pie. So here it is the heavenly Caramel Apple Pie! Delicious! Now I will let you in on the secrets of my pie. First lets start with the crust, there is nothing better than home-made crust. So many have issues with making a good crust, flakey and tender are just polar opposites, so hard to attain. So here is the secret, Butter (mixed with lard is fine, I prefer all butter) and Patience! Here is my recipe for a fantastic pie crust.

Makes 2 9 inch pie crusts

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter (cut into tablespoon size chunks)
6-7 tablespoons ice-cold water

First sift the flour with the salt right on to you counter top. What you want to do next is add the butter one tablespoon at a time and pinch together with the flour. You want it to resemble coarse meal when you are done. Then I mound up the flour butter mixture and form a well in the middle. Pour a tablespoon or two of the cold water into the well and start to fold the flour over the water. Keep combining the flour and water in this fashion until you have a ball of dough. Then divide into two balls. Put aside one ball. The trick here to getting a flaky crust is layers Rip the ball in half and stack the halves on top of each other, knead lightly back into a ball. Continue this stacking and kneading about four times. But be gentle with it, this isn’t a bread dough. Form the dough into a disk wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Do the same with the second ball of dough. Ta-Da!! Pie dough!

The filling is the next big step, this is much easier, while the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. For the caramel apple pie slice up about 7 apples (granny smith or gala) into either 1/2-3/4 inch thickness or into chunks, either is fine its your preference, but they shouldn’t really be smaller than half an inch in thickness, otherwise you end up with a pie full of apple sauce. The trick to slicing apples and keeping their pretty white color is squeeze half a lemon into a large mixing bowl, put the slices into the lemon juice as you cut, by tossing the fresh apple slices with lemon juice they wont brown, the citric acid keeps them white and crisp. After all the apples are sliced mix in 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, if you have it a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg is a nice touch but not necessary. Set this aside to macerate (that means the juices get drawn out)

Remove the pie dough, toll out to about 11 inches in diameter (about 1/8 inch thick). My trick is to roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, it keeps the dough from sticking and makes it easy to transfer to the pie dish. Transfer dough to pie dish, make sure to push it in to the bottom and all crevices, cut off extra dough that hangs over with a pairing knife. Now my trick to a good bottom crust is an egg wash. Whisk one egg and one tablespoon heavy cream, brush mixture over bottom crust. Then pour in apple filling. Roll out the second ball of dough and lay over the filling. Crimp edges shut with the tines of a fork. Cut a hole in the center to let the steam vent (or it will blow up! Not fun to clean!) Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash, place the whole thing on a cookie sheet and throw into the over, now go entertain yourself for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes check the pie, if the edges are browning too quickly cover with tin foil or one of those nifty pie crust shields. Now make the caramel sauce, in small saucepan over medium low heat melt 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and 1.2 cup of chopped pecans ( I used halved pecans because i was feeling lazy, either works fine). Let the ingredient bubble for a few minutes and then remove the pie from the oven and spoon the hot caramel mixture over the top of the pie, return to the over for 5 more minutes or until caramel topping is set. Remove the pie from the over and allow to cool completely (this is the hardest part because it will smell soooooo good, all you to do it eat it!!! But waiting is worth it!).

For a final touch, whip up some fresh whipping cream with a teaspoon or splenda and a teaspoon of vanilla extract to stiff peaks. Slice top with whip cream and serve!!!!  It seems like soooo much work now that i wrote the whole thing out here, if you’re still reading you’re a trooper. I promise it’s not as difficult as it seems and with a little patience and a lot of love you will have a wonderful pie to share, make it for your dad, in-laws, roommates, whoever! They will love you forever!

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