Pie in the Sky: Caramel Apple Pie

I have what would be described as a tenuous relationship with pie. Though I find it delicious, I’ve never really gotten the hang of it–pie-making has always been a hit-or-miss endeavor with me. When it’s on, it’s ON (hello, 40-proof pumpkin pie); when it’s not, it’s mreh at best. The differentiating factor? The CRUST. It’s as integral to the personality and success of a pie as the filling, and I have never really gotten the hang of it.

Caramel Apple Pie

I will admit, this time I seem to have gotten a little closer than usual. This is largely owing to the incredibly sage advice I’ve been receiving from several corners, which states that your freezer is as important a contributor to the baking process of a pie as your oven is. Possibly moreso. You see, cold dough is happy dough, and that means you need to take the time to make sure everything is as cold as possible before your dough will reach its full potential. So, you put everything in the freezer at every opportunity, including: your cubed butter; the butter-flour mixture; the dough itself; your rolling pin; your pie plate; your pie plate with the rolled out dough in it; the knife you will use to cut vents in the top crust (or, if you’re doing it the way I did this time, the cookie cutter you’ll use to create the overlapping pieces). If it were possible, I’d recommend putting your kitchen counter in the freezer for a while as well, but, you know. Let’s be reasonable here.

Caramel Apple Pie

Yep, reading that litany, I know it sounds obsessive. But guess what? It WORKS! The crust came out flaky and tender and delightful, a worthy companion to the ooey, gooey, delicious concoction inside–the caramel apple filling. The ultimate synthesis between fruit pie classicism and the devil-may-care upstartedness that pervades my kitchen; my hare-brained culinary fever dream made real on a long Sunday afternoon. The filling is pretty simple (sliced apples, caramel, and a little extra butter for good measure); I figured that it, like its inspiration, should be as uncomplicated as possible (though, admittedly, I did give the caramel a bit of a kick with some bourbon). My only real advice with that is don’t overcook the caramel, and don’t be stingy with it, either. Oh, and be sure to take a better picture of it than I did.

Caramel Apple Pie

2 discs Pate Brisee pie crust

For the caramel:
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c bourbon
2c sugar
4 tbsp corn syrup
1/2c water
1/2c sour cream

8 apples (granny smith or gala), peeled, cored, and sliced thinly

  1. Start by preparing the crust: chill your rolling pin for a bit, as well as your pie plate. Stick your cookie cutter in the freezer for good measure. Roll out one disc of dough and press it gently into the pie plate, and then put it all back into the freezer while you deal with the filling.
  2. Caramel! In a small saucepan, simmer together the cream and the bourbon. Do this over low heat so as not to scorch, and keep a careful eye on it
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan, boil together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir a bit, but don’t let it splash up on the sides if you can avoid it. Keep it over high heat until it starts to turn a nice amber color (5-7 minutes), then remove it from the heat immediately. Let it sit for a minute or so, then add the bourbon cream mixture. BEWARE: this will bubble and froth most mightily. Use a long wooden spoon and stand back.
  4. Once the hissing cauldron has settled, whisk in the sour cream. Set it side and let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Meanwhile! Roll out your second disc of dough. Using your chilled cookie cutter, cut out as many iterations of your shape as the dough will allow. Place them between sheets of plastic wrap and–you guessed it–put them in the freezer while you assemble the pie.
  6. Remove the pie plate with the dough from the freezer. Place a thin layer of apple slices along the bottom of the crust. Overlap them if you can–you want as few gaps as possible, all the way through the pie.
  7. Pour on enough caramel to completely cover the apple slices.
  8. Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re out of apples. Then, put a few pats of butter on top of the filling before putting on the top crust.
  9. Create a top crust by placing your dough cutouts in overlapping patterns; I did concentric circles, but feel free to use your imagination. You can use egg wash to help them adhere to each other.
  10. Bake at 350 for about an hour. I recommend putting the pie tin on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven–this beast likes to bubble over. Let it stand for at least an hour before cutting–unless you want a crazy, gooey mess on your hands. Which, you know. You might!

P.S. I apologize for the horrid picture of the pie; I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this, so I didn’t prepare! Next time, Gadget!

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