Dec 11, 2009

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie

Question. What dessert pairs perfectly with an exotic Asian meal like sesame-coated tuna with wasabi-ponzu sauce? Good ‘ol fashioned American apple pie. Nothing like a slice of normal to balance out a daring dish like that.

The closest thing to “exotic” in this pie was the caramel, which I found particularly intriguing. I love caramel-dipped apples, and how perfect would it be to have that great county fair flavor, plus a buttery crust, and none of that nonsense skin that ends up wedged between your teeth? And online reviewers simply praised the pie, so I thought it was definitely worth a shot. (Although, those reviewers failed to mention all the effort and time that was about to be sacrificed on my behalf. Whatever happened to “easy as pie”?)

I must admit that I was a little nervous at the thought of attempting anything close to the peach cobbler, the first dessert of my project. Even though the final result came out good, my clumsy measuring, recipe instruction rebellion and a plastic-wrap fight to the death brought on a little beginner’s dough-making breakdown. But all things get better with time, so I was ready for round two with my rolling pin. Lace up my oven mitts and send me in the ring.

After a few deep breaths and a little Christmas music therapy, I started on the dough. I was scared. Nervous. And unarmed. Seems I forgot to put a dough blender on my registry. So instead, I was forced to use two knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour. But I was getting nowhere. In the end, it took alternating between cutting with knives and smashing with a fork for much longer than I expected, but I finished victoriously.



I moved the dough carefully to the table and placed it on top of wax paper. Yes, the recipe actually calls for that clingy stuff from hell, but like I said, I’ve learned that it must be avoided at all costs for the sake of my sanity. (The wax paper works better, by the way.) I’ve also learned that when a recipe says, “do not form into a ball,” you shouldn’t. No matter how much your inner Play Doh-loving child wants to. So I followed the instructions to the tee and rolled out a perfect 12-inch circle, and proudly draped it in the freezer to chill. When it was ready, I placed it into a pie plate with a little foil on the bottom, filled it with poor-man’s pie weights, and baked it.




As I started on the apples and stumbled upon an epiphany. I seriously need an automatic slicer. Not only did I nearly slice more than just the apples, it took quite some time to turn each already small apple wedge into four thin slices. And wasted time is not my friend when I’m baking late at night.




When I was finally done slicing, I sprinkled the apples with cinnamon and sugar and poured the mixture into a pan to cook. I’ve never heard of sautéing apples for a pie, and I’m sure my grandma would be opposed to this “highfalutin” step. But I wasn’t about to argue with the recipe. By the time the kitchen was filled with an apple-cinnamon scent no candle could ever imitate, they were done. I added a little flour and lemon juice and spooned it into the crust.





Next was the topping. No dough blender, again, so I was cutting and smashing butter, brown sugar and flour the best I could with cutlery until I had the perfect consistency. Then I lovingly drenched the pie with caramel (definitely the best part), topped it with the streusel, and baked.





I tell you, nothing beats the aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven on a cold winter evening. And when I pulled it out of the oven, I felt as though I was pulling it straight out of the 50’s. I’m sure the frilly red Christmas apron I was donning may have had something to do with that, too.

And the pie was pretty delicious. Maybe the first bite wasn’t as amazing as I had anticipated, but with such fantastic reviews and so much surrendered time, I think my expectations may have been a bit unrealistic. I was envisioning a Bree Vandacamp award winning pie. But it was sweet and tart, the crust was perfect, and it just got better and better with each passing day as the flavors melded together in the fridge.

We tried it two ways. Usually my favorite way to eat pie is warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which in this case meant lots of melty caramel. But there’s almost too much caramel in this pie to be heated up like that. Once it leaves the microwave and gets weighed down by the ice cream, you literally have just seconds before it’s apple stew. Thankfully my quick fingers allowed me to snap these photos before it collapsed.


Looks and messiness aside, it was still good. But surprisingly, Luke and I both liked it best cold. There’s just something about this pie that tastes best when its all gelled together and chilled. The flavors come through more and the crust stays crunchier.

Well, it was a long process. My arms and feet were killing me when I was done. But you know what? It turned out to be the best pie I ever made. Even if it is...the only pie I ever made.

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Cookbook Note: In this variation on the classic apple pie, caramel syrup is drizzled over the apples then topped with a crunchy streusel.


1  cup  all-purpose flour
1/8  teaspoon  salt
2  tablespoons  chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
2  tablespoons  vegetable shortening
3  tablespoons  plus 1/2 teaspoon ice water
1  teaspoon  cider vinegar
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1  tablespoon  butter or stick margarine
1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
3/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
9  cups  sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 3/4 pounds)
3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons  lemon juice

1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
1/4  cup  packed brown sugar
2  tablespoons  chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
1/4  cup  fat-free caramel sundae syrup

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1-cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1-cup flour and salt in a bowl; cut in 2-tablespoons butter and shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; add vinegar. Toss with a fork until moist and crumbly (do not form a ball).

Press mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap; cover with additional plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, to a 12-inch circle. Freeze 10 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.

Remove 1 sheet of plastic wrap; fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Fold edges under; flute. Line bottom of dough with a piece of foil; arrange pie weights (or dried beans) on foil. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until the edge is lightly browned. Remove pie weights and foil; cool on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, melt 1-tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2-cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Add sugar mixture and apples to skillet; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons flour and lemon juice. Spoon into prepared crust.

To prepare topping, lightly spoon 1/4-cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/4-cup brown sugar in a bowl; cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Drizzle syrup over apple mixture; sprinkle topping over syrup. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 277 (27% from fat), Fat: 8.4g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 1g), Protein: 2.1g, Carbohydrate: 50.1g, Fiber: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 16mg
Iron: 1.3mg, Sodium: 109mg, Calcium: 33mg

Source: Cooking Light, November 1999


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails