Sunday, February 17, 2013

Salted caramel apple pie


Is it me, or is salted caramel everywhere? I've seen it as candy, ice cream, cupcakes, cookies and bars. My husband actually found this in a cookbook when he was deciding what dessert we should include for the Super Bowl. He is an avid fan of apple pie, and he thought that we should make salted caramel apple pie for a fun twist.

This was my first time baking with Granny Smith apples, and boy were they tart. I actually found them too tart for this apple pie and would make them with Fuji apples next time (I love Fuji apples and don't think they are too sweet). Otherwise, this pie was perfect. The crust was nice and flaky, and the salted caramel sauce was nicely balanced with the sweetness from the sugar and saltiness from the sea salt flakes. While I didn't top my pie slices with ice cream, I should have since my tastebuds went beserk from the Granny Smith apples.  This is a pie I will most likely make again, with the one substitution in apple variety.

Oh, and a few fun facts about the MVP from the game, Joe Flacco. His wedding photographer also shot my brother's wedding this past fall. Joe also attended the University of Delaware, which is not too far from where I grew up. I spent a lot of time on the Blue Hens' campus (especially at their ice rink), so it was neat to see someone from my hometown earn this huge honor and bring Delaware to the spotlight. A belated congrats to Joe and the Baltimore Ravens!

Salted caramel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 12 TBSP (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 TBSP heavy cream
Apple pie filling
  • 2 ts grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large apples, such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honey Crisps, or a combination, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (I omitted)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling (can sub white granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling (I used Maldon sea salt)
  • Ice cream for serving (optional)
Old-fashioned flaky piecrust (makes two layers of crust for a double-crust pie)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes (I replaced with unsalted butter)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Directions
For the crust: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, and salt; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1/3 cup of the water and the vinegar. Using a pastry blender or fork, add the shortening and butter to the flour and cut it in until the mixture resembles small peas. Slowly add the egg mixture and mix with your hands or a fork until the the dough starts to come together in a ball. If the dough is too dry, add a tablesppon of water at a time until the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky.
 
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it evenly into 2 balls. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap and flatten it with the palm of your hand to form a disk. Chill the dough disks for at least 1 hour. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

For the dough: Generously dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour. On a lightly floured piece of parchment or a well-floured flat surface, roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch circle. Place the dough into a pie dish and be sure to press the dough up the sides. Cut off the excess dough with a knife or kitchen shears, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pie dish in the refrigerator and allow the dough to cool for at least 30 minutes.
 
Roll the final dough disk using the same method as above. Transfer it to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
 
For the caramel: In a medium saucepan (preferably one that is silver in color), combine the granulated sugar, fleur de sel, and 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Lower the heat down to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup becomes a medium-dark amber caramel, about 15 minutes. Once the caramel turns golden, carefully remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and heavy cream. Quickly transfer the caramel to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or to a medium mixing bowl, if using a handheld mixer) and beat on low until the caramel cools and starts to come together. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon zest and lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and turbinado sugar. Gently add this dry mixture to the apples and toss.

To assemble the pie:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat your oven to 400°F. Take the refrigerated pie pan with the crust out of the refrigerator. Prick the bottom of the crust gently with a fork. Layer the apple mixture on top of the crust and be sure to leave no gaps between the apples. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the caramel mixture on top of the apples. Reserve the remaining caramel for serving, or to mix with vanilla ice cream or cupcakes (or eat with a spoon - I won't judge).
 

Place the top pie crust on a work surface and cut 4 to 8 vent holes in the center with a mini cookie cutter in whatever shape you like. Or, you can use a knife to cut some slits.  The cutout pieces can be reserved for decorating the crust. Place the top crust over the pie filling and fold the overhang over the bottom pie crust. Trim any excess crust off with a knife. Seal and crimp the edges. If desired, decorate the top crust with the cutout pieces, by pushing the pieces down gently and brush the entire crust with an egg wash. Sprinkle the top crust lightly with turbinado sugar and a pinch of fleur de sel.
 

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for an additional 45 to 60 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. You can test the apples with a small knife to make sure they are soft but not mushy. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 4 hours before serving. The pie is best eaten the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
 

To serve, slice the pie into triangular wedges and top with the leftover the caramel sauce and/or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Yield: About 12-16 slices, or more, depending on how big you like your pie slices 

Source: The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day

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