Caramel Apple Pie

So I tested the Caramel Apple Pie recipe that I mentioned yesterday and it’s a winner!  Hallelujah.  In my quest for pie proficiency this fall, I’ve tried three different apple pie recipes (two different crusts, three different fillings).  This recipe wins both the crust and the filling contests, so I’m confident that it will go over well at our Thanksgiving celebration.

I experienced two “firsts” while trying this recipe:

1.  I worked with lard!  This was my first time buying it, in fact.  One of my best friends is from New Mexico, and I remember being shocked at my first visit to the supermarket in Las Cruces when I saw shelf after shelf (after shelf!) of lard in containers of all sizes.  I never even considered the existence of lard as a grocery product until I met this friend, but I’ve also never consumed better fried tacos than I have during the course of this friendship.  And let me tell you, lard makes one heck of a pie crust.  It almost had a bit of a snap to it when I cut the first piece and it held its shape well during serving.  It was also exceptionally delicious, of course.

2.  I made my own caramel!  It was ridiculously easy and pass-out-freakin’ delicious.  Have you ever had those little log-shaped, individually-wrapped soft caramels?  The ones that are so soft they aren’t really even chewy?  The pie caramel was too soft to be formed into candies (which makes sense since it’s supposed to be drizzled over the pie), but the taste was spot on.  You’d better believe that Dr. O and I scraped that saucepan clean.

The recipe for this pie is a bit long, so I’m not going to do the play-by-play today; you can check out the full original recipe here.  What I will do is give you a rundown of the few things I did differently along with the tips I have to offer.

Let’s begin!

  • I really didn’t feel like making pie dough with my hands yesterday, so I used my food processor instead.  I put the flour and salt in the smallest bowl of my food processor and pulsed it a few times to mix.  Then, I added the lard and (very cold) butter and pulsed until the mixture resembled coarse meal.  I added the ice water little by little through the food processor tube, pulsing with each addition until the dough came together.  (Try not to overprocess it.)  The recipe called for 1/2 cup of ice water, but I had about 4 teaspoons left when I felt like my dough was moist enough.  I wrapped the dough in plastic and chilled it for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before I rolled it out.
  • I do love this recipe, but some of the language connected to rolling out the dough is unclear.  The first part of the recipe tells you to “roll the dough to a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick” and line the pie plate.  Notice that this says “the dough,” not “half of the dough.”  There’s no mention of dividing or halving the dough in either the main recipe or the pie dough recipe.  Halfway through the recipe, though, we’re told to “roll out the remaining dough to a large round.”  What??  I had already lined the pie plate and stuck it in the refrigerator before I realized there was a problem, so I had to pull out the dough, divide it in half, re-roll it, and set the other half aside for later.  Maybe the “remaining dough” is supposed to be the scraps from lining the pie plate, but the recipe doesn’t say anything about trimming excess dough.  Maybe I was supposed to roll out that dough to exactly 1/8 inch and know that anything beyond the 12-inch round was scrap dough.  Who knows?  When I make the pie tomorrow, I’ll just use half in the pie plate and half on top again.
  • I did a rough chop of my apples and I thought the pieces would be small enough, but the apples were still slightly firm in the center of the pie.  Tomorrow, I’m going to cut my apples into thin slices and then cut those slices into thirds.  I think I’m also going to bake my pie for an extra 10 minutes at 300F (and I’ll probably tent it with foil during the extra baking time to prevent it from browning any further).
  • I can’t say I understand why the pie has to go back into the oven after you put the caramel on top.  The heat from the oven just made mine run off of the pie and pool at the crust.  It’s not like the caramel needs to cook any longer, so I’m just going to drizzle mine on the pie next time and let it set while the pie cools.

Caramel Apple Pie

There may be better apple pies out there (like Grandma Ozenbaugh’s pie), but this recipe is definitely the best of my experiments.  The filling was still a bit tart (from the Granny Smith apples, I’m sure), but not overpoweringly so.  It probably helped that this recipe has a bit more sugar in the filling and a little less lemon juice than some of the other recipes I’ve tried.  The amount of cinnamon in the filling was just right, and the pie wasn’t runny at all (thank you, tapioca).  This crust wasn’t as flaky as Martha Stewart’s Perfect Pie Crust, but I actually liked it better.  The flavor and texture were fantastic, and I loved that the pie pieces didn’t collapse into a heap when they were served.  This one’s a keeper!

TIPS:  Don’t forget to put the pie on a rimmed baking sheet before you stick it in the oven.  I had a small amount of filling and caramel bubble over, and I’d rather clean a baking sheet than the oven any day.

Recipe link: Caramel Apple Pie

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