Sunday, March 23, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie w/ Lattice Top
Thanks to That's So Michelle's recipe for Caramel Apple Jello Shots, I had a ton of peeled Granny Smiths sitting in my fridge.  Since they were the pricier organic variety, the frugal imp inside me just can't allow them to be thrown out.
Apple sauce or apple butter would have been the easiest way to go.  I almost did until a lightbulb of an idea went off in my head.  The Caramel Apple Jello Shots were so great, why not caramel apple pie?  And why not a salted caramel apple pie?
I had never baked a pie from scratch before.  I looked through my recipe books and my first attempt was a disaster.  The top crust was great, but my bottom crust had absorbed too much liquid from the filling and had become a soggy, gooey mess.  So I very carefully cut and lifted the top crust, spooned the filling into bowl and started all over again with the bottom crust.
On my second attempt, I pre-baked the bottom crust and sealed it with a layer of egg whites.  I then spooned the filling back into the bottom shell, added the top crust and "glued" it back to the edges of the bottom crust with egg whites.
The operation was a success!  It was crucial to keep the dough cold until the moment it goes into the oven.  I kept putting it back into the refrigerator after each step of handling.  All that work was worth it.  Both the bottom and top crust turned out delightfully flaky.
And I didn't even realize that the next day was Pi Day.
What was meant to be was meant to be.

Double Pie Crust
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/12 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp ice water
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until butter is about pea-sized and the flour is coarse.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
While tossing the flour mixture around, sprinkle in the ice water evenly.  Take a handful of the crumbly mixture and squeeze it together.  If it doesn't hold, sprinkle in another 1/2 tablespoon of ice water.
Divide the dough into two equal parts.  With the heel of your hand, squish each of part the dough into
1/2-inch thick disks.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk), warmed
1/2 tbsp sea salt
Use a large and heavy saucepan that holds at least 2 quarts.  Spread sugar evenly to cover the bottom of the sauce pan.  Over low heat, stir the sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk as it melts.  Stop stirring once most of the sugar is melted and swirl the melted sugar around the bottom of the pan.  Continue swirling and cooking the sugar until it is a deep amber color or 350 degrees F.
Carefully add and stir in butter.  The mixture will bubble violently.
Remove the pan from heat.  Slowly add the cream or evaporated milk.  The mixture will bubble a lot.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in sea salt.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie w/ Lattice Top
3 lbs Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2" thick)
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 egg white, slightly beaten
Double Pie Crust
Fill a large pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring water to boil.  Add apple slices and stir.  Remove from heat.  Cover pot with a lid for 10 minutes.
Drain the apple slices and let cool.
Take one of the disks of pie crust out of the refrigerator.  On lightly floured waxed paper, roll the disk into a 12-inch circle.
Lightly dust a 9-inch pie pan with flour.  Carefully place the dough into the pie pan.  Gently press the dough into the pie pan, just enough so that it lines up with the bottom and edges.
Prick the bottom of the dough several times with a fork.  Trim the edges, leaving 1/2-inch of excess dough from the edge.  Flute the edges of the dough by pinching them between your thumb and index fingers.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
On lightly floured waxed paper, roll the other disk into a 12-inch circle.  Remove the waxed paper from under the dough.  Slice the dough into 1/2-inch wide strips.  Place the waxed paper on a large plate or cookie sheet.  Carefully place the strips on top of the waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly press a sheet of foil onto the bottom crust.  Fill the pan at least 2/3 full with dry beans or pie weights.  Place the pie pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the beans or weights and foil.  Brush the bottom of the pie crust with egg whites to create a seal.  Cover the edges with foil.  Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Mix apples with caramel sauce until well coated.  Add apple filling to cooled bottom crust.  Remove dough strips from refrigerator.  Drape the strips over the top of the apple filling, forming a lattice pattern.  "Glue" the edges of the lattice top to the edges of the bottom crust with egg whites.
Brush the lattice top with egg whites.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.

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