So as I already explained I am lazy and the scum of the earth and couldn’t seem to get my act together for a Thanksgiving post. But let’s not focus on all that, it’s in the past. Let’s focus on this: Salted Caramel Apple Pie with Whole Wheat Crust, my contribution to my sister’s Thanksgiving dinner party. It was salty. It was sweet. It was appley and divine. And I’m going to tell you how to make it.
First of all, you can skip the homemade pie crust altogether. Go buy yourself two frozen pie crusts from the grocery store and call it good. But if you’re feeling ambitious and want to put your new Anthropologie pastry apron to good use, you can make your own. That’s what I did (except my apron was sewn by my grandmother, don’t be jealous!), and it was a bit of work considering I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose (much drier and harder to work with, unfortunately), but it was well-worth it. Nothing says “I’m a boss,” like making your own pie crust.
Perfect Whole Wheat Pie Crust
(makes three crusts, adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
1-1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 whole egg
5 tablespoons cold water, plus 2-3 tablespoons for working the dough
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the shortening into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
2. Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large freezer bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you plan on using it immediately, it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)
3. When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (If the dough is dry and flaky, add more cold water, one tablespoon at a time.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan (it will shrink down when baking!).
4. With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
(serves 8-10, adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup white granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of flaky sea salt
2 nine-inch pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
3 Gala Apples (you can use other varieties as well)
1 Granny Smith Apple
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Flaky Sea Salt
9-inch pie pan
Silicon Spatula (so it doesn’t melt in the caramel)
Cookie cutter (I used a star shape, but you can use anything you’d like!)
1. In the microwave or a small pot, heat the heavy cream until it’s warm to the touch. Set it aside.
2. In a medium to large pot, add the sugar and place it over medium heat. Do not stir. Cook the sugar until the bottom starts to turn a light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir the sugar, if needed, so all of it gets its turn hitting the bottom of the pan. Cook the sugar until it turns a medium brown, this process will happen fast so be sure not to leave. Once the caramel reaches a medium brown color take it off the heat and whisk it until smooth. You’ll notice that it will still turn a darker color and cook more as you whisk. At this point it should be a dark brown – if it’s not, place it back on the heat in 30 second increments, whisking the entire time, until it reaches that dark caramel color. Turn off the heat and whisk in the 5 tablespoons of butter (it will bubble up!). Keep whisking until the melted butter fully incorporates into the cooked sugar. Next, add the warm cream (it will bubble up!), whisking it in until it’s fully incorporated. You’ll notice that the texture is much thinner than it was earlier – not to worry it will thicken as it cools. Add the salt and whisk. Transfer it to a glass container and set aside.
3. To assemble the pie, roll out 1/2 of your dough to a 12-inch circle and place it in the 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/4-inch overhang – it will shrink in the oven! Transfer the pie pan to the refrigerator while you make the star-cut outs. Take the second half of your pie dough and roll it out. Cut out about 10 stars, re-rolling the scraps and making 2 more. Lightly flour them, transfer them to a cutting board and place it in the refrigerator.
4. Preheat the oven to 300F. Peel, core and slice the apples to a 1/4-inch thickness. I lopped off the tops and bottoms and sliced them horizontally. Transfer the apples slices to a bowl and to prevent them from browning, coat them with the juice from the lemon. Add the flour, bourbon, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to the apples and using your hands, toss the apples until they’re evenly coated.
5. Take the pie crust out of the fridge. Transfer the apple mixture to the pie crust, layering them in a circle pattern. Taste the caramel – does it need more salt? Add more if needed. Pour about 1/4 cup of caramel over the apples. Top them with a few pinches of salt. Brush the edges of the pie crust with water. Place each star around the pie crust, gently pressing them down so they are secured to the pie crust underneath. When you’re done arranging the stars, lightly brush them with the leftover caramel and top with a few pinches turbinado sugar and a few pinches of sea salt.
6. Transfer the pie to baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven. Bake at 300F for 25 minutes, until the pie crust is a very lightly golden brown. Turn the heat up to 350F and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when the pie crust is a golden brown color and the caramel looks bubbly. When you take it out of the oven, the caramel will appear runny. That’s ok, it needs to cool 5-6 hours before serving, and the caramel will thicken to perfection.