Ever since I started baking i've been obsessed with baking pie's. I'm not sure why exactly but I think it has to do with the whole process of baking a pie, the cutting of butter, the feeling of flour that goes through my fingers, the kneading, the smell of fresh cut pieces of fruit and juices and of course the smell of a pie in the oven… But also the crispy, flaky crust when you take that first bite: what could be better than that?!
I have a whole stack of pie recipe's that are waiting to be made. This means I'm planning to bake a lot more pies in the near future. That sounds a little crazy knowing i've been doing A LOT of pie baking already the last week (or two?). I made this particular recipe 3 times (!!!) before I was finally happy with the result (made some mistakes a long the baking way because i'm a stubborn baker, adding some more here and leaving a little there...). This is also the reason why you'll see three different looking apple pie's (below), this is me experimenting with "crust design".
The recipe comes from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, a book written by the two very talented sisters behind the much celebrated Brooklyn pie shop, which I really want to visit when I ever go back to New York (What a dream to work in their shop for a while, as a pie baker!!! And pie photographer!!! Maybe one day…) (no i'm not kidding, I would really love that!). I adore the book because of the gorgeous photography done by Gentl & Hyers but also because of the endless seasonal pie recipes that are listed in the book. I just get so pie "cravy" once I look at the pie photos inside this book.
This apple pie recipe is delicious and a little different than most apple pie recipes because of the salted caramel and the use of bitters. Unfortunately I didn't use any bitters with this pie (so how would I know right? I just believe so :D especially when the Blackbirds sisters say it's their 'secret' ingredient ), but i'm planning to order some online because I think it really adds that special something. But take it from me; the recipe also works without the bitters, it's a really tasty pie. You can find the recipe down below, hope you enjoy making it!
Apple salted caramel pie
recipe adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
makes one 9-inch pie
Ingredients double pie crust
(or use your own favorite pie crust recipe)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup cold vinegar
1 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt and sugar together in a a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are ok; be careful not to over blend).
Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it's fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. If making the double-crust version, divide the dough in half before shaping each portion into flat discs.
Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
Ingredients salted caramel
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) fresh unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (recommended: Maldon sea saltflakes)
Ingredients apple filling seasoning
1/3 cup raw sugar (castor, unrefined, large granule sugar)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters (I didn't use the bitters because I can't find them back here in Taipei. But I know that they can be ordered online if you really want to add this)
Ingredients apple filling
6 medium to large apples (I used 6 Golden Delicious apples but a mixture of Crispin, Granny Smith, and Cortland is also nice)
Egg white of 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water, mixed together
Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon sea salt (flake)
Special equipment: Mandolin for slicing, and a pastry brush.
To make the salted caramel:
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper. (This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you've burned it and you'll have to start over.)
Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream - the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam - be cautious as the sugar will be very hot (!!!).
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.
To make the apple filling:
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.
To make the apple filling seasoning:
In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters (if you have). Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).
Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again.
Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the egg white and water mixture and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.
Let the pie cool, relax, have a cup of tea, slice and enjoy!!!