It is my little pie baker's secret that I am not that into apple pie. I find it a bit "meh"--somewhat bland, generally unexciting and when it's bad it can be REALLY BAD and when it's good, it's just...good. Despite my usual traditionalist leanings, I just don't understand the fascination. Of course I get the whole nostalgia around it, and there is something really special and comforting about my mom's apple pie--always done with a brown sugar crumble top. But other than that, I can take it or leave it (or make an apple galette instead).
But apple pie is often the test of a pie bakers skill, so instead of shunning it, I instead try to find ways to make the classic dish a little more personally appealing. Last year I made it savory with grueyere, caramelized onions and sage; recently I added green chiles to my apple fried pies (recipe coming soon); and previously I'd tried some caramel apple pie recipes, with mediocre success, as the caramel always seemed to dissolve or melt in the oven. So I decided to try adding the caramel after--once the pie had been baked-- as a salty-sweet (and eye-catching) glaze. As usual, I opted for Northern Spies, my go-to baking apple (spies are for pies), which I picked up at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer's Market.
Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze
Caramel recipe adapted from Judicial Peach
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust
8 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2-3/4 inch slices (sometimes I leave the skins on, as it doesn't bother me, and they are the the healthiest part of the apple. It also saves time.)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbslp. cornstarch or all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
Turbinado sugar, for dusting
For salted caramel glaze:
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 c. water
1/8 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Prepare the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour. Once chilled, roll out 1/2 of pie crust and fit into a 9-inch greased and floured pie pan. You can choose to roll out the top-crust now and refrigerate it flat, or roll it out once you've prepared the filling. Either way, you should put both the remaining crust and the pie pan in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place apple wedges in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lemon zest, spices and cornstarch or flour and add to the apples. Mix well, then add maple syrup and lemon juice and stir to combine.
3. Pour the apple filling into the bottom pie crust and spread evenly. Add the top crust, crimping and fluting the edges decoratively and cutting vents in the top so steam can escape. Brush on an egg wash (using the remaining 1/2 egg from the crust) and sprinkle top with Turbinado sugar.
4. Place pie in the oven and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and continue to bake for about 40 minutes more or until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
For caramel glaze:
1. While pie is in the oven, prepare the caramel glaze. In a small pot, bring cream, butter, and sea salt to a simmer over low heat, making sure to not let it boil. Once it begins to simmer, remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, mix water, corn syrup and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Then without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil until it is golden brown in color. Make sure to keep an eye on it as this transition can happen quickly.
3. When the mixture is done, remove from heat and carefully add the cream mixture (it will bubble up so pour it slowly). Stir in the vanilla.
4. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 248 degrees (you'll need a candy thermometer for this), approximately 10 minutes. Once it reaches 248, remove from heat and let cool just slightly.
5. When pie is out of the oven, use a spoon to drizzle caramel glaze over the top crust. Let cool until the caramel begins to harden and serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream.