It’s taken a couple of tries, but I finally got got the caramel apple pie to come out perfectly and just in time for Thanksgiving. As I mentioned in my previous post, I first saw this recipe on Cup of Jo over the summer and set it aside for apple season.
I found the recipe to be very inspiring, but a tiny bit sloppy. There were details missing that I found frustrating, particularly with the cider caramel, so I took the liberty of making a few changes, which I’ve outlined below.
A few tips and what I changed:
Given that the original recipe’s crust is from Martha Stewart, it’s probably perfect good to use. I however, have a lot of faith and experience with Mark Bittman’s flaky pie crust and made two of those for this pie. Bittman’s recipe is easy, always flaky, and has never gotten soggy on me.
Getting the caramel right took a few tries. What ended up working for me was to keep the cider at a steady medium boil, and actually measure the liquid to see how far it reduced. Once it was down to about a cup, it was noticeably thicker, but not as thick as I expect caramel to be. If I cooked it much longer it burned, so at the one cup mark, I put it in a mason jar and stuck it in the fridge. That finally did the trick.
I like the apple pie filling to be perfectly soft and have no sort of undercooked bite to the apple texture. Once I’d cut up the apples, I sauteed them in skillet until they softened. The additional benefit of pre-cooking your apples is that it removes some of the juice and the pie will be less likely to be watery (the pie in the original recipe photos looks very liquidy.) This takes about 10 minutes in my Le Creuset, and about 20 in a regular kitchen skillet. I let them cool in the skillet for about 10 minutes, then mix the other filling ingredients directly into the apples in the skillet. Mix well, then transfer to your prepared pie crust.
Lately I’ve been wanting to improve my pie crust making skills, so I’ve been toying with these dough circles I saw on Food 52. I found that it was important to keep the dough thin and cold, so I rolled the extra crust out on a piece of parchment paper, then transferred the paper and dough onto a sheet pan and refrigerated them for about 15 minutes. When I was ready to assemble the top crust, I pulled the sheet pan out of the fridge and cut the dough circles with a shot glass. I got the best result by arranging the dough cut-outs in concentric circles over the apple pie filling, then arranging another set of circles along the edge of the crust.
Given that I used dough circles instead of a regular top crust, I found the browning on the pie crust to be more even if I brushed it with a little milk, rather than egg. Don’t forget to sprinkle the crust with cinnamon and sugar before popping the pie in the oven.
Lastly, as with most pies, it is very important to let the pie cool completely before serving. This will help the filling set and not ooze out of your cut pie, as well as help prevent your bottom crust from getting soggy.