Satisfy my sweet tooth with an apple pie. Technique was adapted from Apple Pie by Grandma Ople to fit a 7" pie pan.
Hypothesis: With 5 stars after 4, 175 reviews on Allrecipes.com, and with few people making substitutions, this non-traditional apple pie must be incredibly delicious.
2-3 tart apples (for example, Granny Smith)
1/4 cup (4 Tbs.) butter
1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/8 cup (or more) water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark would work, I used dark)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 piecrust recipe for a single layer pie
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the bottom of a 5-6" pie pan with crust, trimming the edges to leave a 1/4" overhang. Cut the remaining crust into strips with 1/2 inch overhang on each side.
2. Peel, core and slice the apples. To prevent oxidation from turning the apples brown, submerge in water or toss in lemon juice. Note: lemon juice will make the apples more tart.
3. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in flour. Add water and sugars. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.
4. Fill the crust with apples. Pour 1/2-3/4 of the caramel onto the apples and gently toss to mix.
5. Cover the filling by weaving the lattice top over the pie.
6. If the remaining caramel is too thick to pour, add more water to thin it enough to make it pourable. Boil it until it thicken to the desired consistency and is homogeneous. Pour the remaining caramel over the top of the lattice.
7. Place the pan in the oven with a piece of foil or pan underneath it to catch drips. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake another 30-40 minutes, or until the caramel is bubbling and the apples are soft.
8. Cool about 20 minutes if you want to eat it warm, otherwise cool completely on a wire rack. Note: caramel can be deceptively hot, take care not to burn yourself!
While my lattice top wasn't perfect, it still looked delicious. When the pie cooled, the caramel formed a crispy layer over the top, while the caramel inside retained a smoother, softer texture.
Discussion and Future Directions
This pie tasted good and was a refreshing change from the classic apple pie. I'm not much of an apple pie lover, so my sample size is too small to declare this the best apple pie recipe like many of the reviewers on Allrecipes.com. For purists, this is not the pie for you. For caramel lovers, this is absolutely the pie for you!
Next time, I would use a homemade pie crust. I find store bought crust to have a foul flavor. Growing up, I always ate the filling and left the crust. Unfortunately, with a lattice-top pie there's a lot more crust to sort through before finding the good stuff! A good, homemade, flaky pie crust would take this pie over the top. Nut lovers could add chopped peanuts for additional flavors and textures (kicking it up to "Candy Apple Pie"). I chose to add cinnamon and vanilla, both of which can be left out based on your preference. The vanilla didn't seem to make a difference, but the cinnamon flavor did come through.
Caramel is generally milk based. It would be interesting to use milk in place of the water. It would certainly make the pie a bit richer. The question is whether or not the caramel would be too thick. I think it would be fine for the filling, but I would probably put all of the caramel in the middle and not even try to pour any of it over the lattice top. However, the caramel on top is a good hint that it's not your ordinary apple pie and it adds to the beauty.
Photos by Pablo Tsukayama