This pie was a great way to use some of the apples we picked! Caramel is an obvious partner for apples, and the salt keeps it from being to sweet. There are a lot of steps, but none of them (except possibly the caramel, if you’re not familiar with making caramel) are very difficult. I made the crust in minutes in the food processor the day before I planned to make the pie, and kept it in the fridge overnight.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
For the Piecrust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon granulated 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
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the Caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1/2 cup water
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the Apple Filling:
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced (I used Rome Delicious apples that we picked and Granny Smiths that I had in the house)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling
1) To make the pie crust: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt. Or combine the flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse to combine.
2) In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1/3 cup of the water and the vinegar.
3) Add the shortening and butter to the flour mixture. Cut it in with a pastry blender, or pulse the food processor, until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the egg mixture, gently tossing with your hands or a fork, or pulsing the food processor, until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough seems too dry, add a little more ice water, about 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary.
4) Gather the dough together on a lightly floured work surface and divide it evenly into 2 balls. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Chill for at least 1 hour.
The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
5) To roll out the dough: Dust your hands and rolling pin with flour. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch round. Roll the dough from the center out, rotating it slightly as you roll to prevent sticking and to keep it round. Dust off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place it in the pie dish. Carefully arrange the dough to slump inside the dish and press it into the edges. Trim the excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Wrap in plastic and place the pie dish in the refrigerator to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
6) Roll out the remaining disk of dough on parchment and transfer it to a baking sheet. Wrap in plastic and return the dough to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
7) When ready to bake, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
8) To make the caramel: Combine the granulated sugar, fleur de sel, and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Wash down any crystals from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup becomes a medium-dark amber caramel, about 15 minutes; you can carefully swirl the pan around to check the color.
9) Carefully remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and heavy cream. Be careful of hot steam when the heavy cream is added, and do not worry if the butter starts to separate – it will come together once the caramel is cooled.
10) Transfer the caramel to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or to a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer) and beat on low speed until the caramel cools and starts to come together. Set aside.
11) To make the filling: Put the lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss gently.
12) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and turbinado sugar. Gently toss the apples with this mixture.
13) To assemble the pie: Layer the apple mixture into the crust in the pie dish, making sure there are no gaps between the apples. Pour 1/4 cup of the caramel on top of the apples. Reserve the remaining caramel for serving.
14) Cut 4 to 8 vent holes in the center with a mini cookie cutter (I used the bottom of a icing tip). Brush the rim of the bottom piecrust with the egg wash to create a seal. Place the top crust over the pie filling and seal and crimp the edges, trimming the excess dough. Brush the entire crust with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar and a pinch of fleur de sel.
15) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until the caramel is thick and syrupy, and the crust turns golden brown. Test the apples with a small knife to make sure they are tender but not mushy.
Cool for at least 4 hours before serving to allow the juices and caramel to thicken. The pie is best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
*Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day