Thursday, October 6, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

So you may have noticed that it's been a little quiet in the second half of September. The slower activity is due to my recent decision to change jobs. I had been with employer for five years, and one reason why I started this blog was a result of needing something intellectually stimulating on the side. I felt like my writing skills had greatly declined since entering the real world, and I had hoped that writing a blog would help me sharpen my writing skills. Once I made the decision to give my notice and accepted a new opportunity, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I now have a few days in between jobs, and so I am looking forward to eating out and cooking some exciting things.

On my first day of being in between jobs, I decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather outside and went to Green City Market. I hit Nichols Farm to pick up some heirloom apples to make apple pie. Based on other area pie experts, I learned that the preferred varieties for apple pie were Northern Spy, Winesap, and Mutsu/Crispin. These specific apples hold up their shape very well during baking because they have crisp/crunchy interior and mildly sweet but tart taste. I like that Nichols always has several bins of apple varieties for you to pick and choose as you please.

I'd never been much of a pie fan, but I know it's one of my aunt's favorite desserts. I invited her to come over and bake a pie with me. I printed out the apple pie recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum and the pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen. 

I made a second pie adding 2/3 cup caramel in alternating layers with the apples. Since the addition of caramel would already have sugar in it, I halved the amount of granulated sugar in Rose's recipe. Using less sugar also yielded less fruit juice, but since I was adding caramel, I wasn't too worried about the apples getting dried out while baking. I used two teaspoons of apple pie spice from the Spice House, and it created a mouth watering scent throughout the house as the apples macerated.

Apple Pie
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum

2 1/2 pounds apples (about 6 medium or 8 cups ), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (a combination of Winesap, Northern Spy, Mutsu)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Prepare your favorite pie crust recipe, and refrigerate disks of pie dough.

Gently toss the apples with the lemon juice, sugars, spice and salt. Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes, up to 3 hours.

Roll out the bottom crust and place onto pie dish. Rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425. Position a baking stone or baking sheet lined with foil on the lowest rack.

Transfer the mixture to a colander suspended over a non-stick saucepan to collect about 1/2 cup liquid. Return the apples to the bowl and toss with the cornstarch. Reduce the liquid over medium heat until syrupy and yielding 1/3 cup liquid. Pour the reduced liquid over the apples and gently mix.

If using caramel, layer 1/3 of the apple filling on the bottom of the shell and top with 1/3 cup caramel. Repeat ending with the last of the apple filling. Roll out the top crust and cover the pie. Crimp and seal the crust. Create a few vent holes to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush the crust with an eggwash (1 egg + 1 tbsp water, whisked). Bake for 45-55 minutes. Check on the crust after 30 minutes of baking to ensure that the edges do not overbrown. Cover with foil ring. Bake until apples are fork tender. Allow to cool at least 1-2 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

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