Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: My apple pies are better than Mom’s.
Given that my Mom grew up in Taiwan and has never made an apple pie in her life, this is a fair statement and something that I can easily accomplish. Apple pie is not just pie, it is iconoclastic. So when you are doing a variation on an apple pie, you best do it right and it is better be good. Enter one of my favorite pie places, 4 & 20 Blackbirds. Being a pie shop they of course are doing a apple pie, it is just something that needs to be on the menu. It is like opening up a Chinese restaurant and not having the option of white rice, it just is not done. But 4 & 20 Blackbirds did not get to were they are doing the Mad Men era pie, they are doing a Salted Caramel Pie and it is damn good. The salt and the sweet interplay wonderfully and it is a pie you can just sit there and just eat. One bite becomes a slice, a slice becomes a half, half a pie becomes a whole, and a whole pie equals self loathing and a nap on the couch promising that tomorrow you will go to the gym.
I like baking and cooking base on what I buy implusively and what I see that is on sale or looking mighty good in the market. I happened to come across some apples that were on sale and Jersey orchard pick so I bought a bag full, just to see what I could do with them and ended up making what I call a Salted Dulce de Leche Apple Pie. The fine folks of the internet had a recipe for the Salted Caramel Apple pie and I took some liberties in making some changes to it due to resources. Instead of a lattice crust which I was to lazy to cut and lay out strips, I just did cover the pie completely and instead of making caramel, I actually had some leftover dulce de leche in the fridge and substituted about 1 ½ cups worth and sprinkled 1 ½ teaspoons of flaky sea salt. The result was a creamy and a bit more subtle salty sweetness which I enjoyed and I think is perfectly acceptable. I also did not have said bitters and left that out completely and added in 1/8th teaspoon of ground cloves which I thought worked. Like all pies, this pie is fine to eat anytime.
Here is the recipe for the Dulce de Leche Apple Pie I created and adapted it from this recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Pie.
Recipe After the Jump!
- Salted Caramel
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) fresh unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (recommended: Maldon sea salt flakes)
- Note** I substituted 1/1/2 cups of Dulce de leche and added 1 ½ teaspoon of sea salt or you can add more if you want, depending on your tastes
- Apple Filling
- 4 to 6 lemons
- 5 to 6 medium to large apples*
- *Cook's Note: A mixture of Crispin, Granny Smith, and Cortland is nice if you can.
- Apple Filling Seasoning
- 1/3 cup raw sugar (castor, unrefined, large granule sugar)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters (probably can omit or do what I did and add in 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 egg beaten
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (flake)
- Special equipment: Mandolin for slicing, and a pastry brush.
DirectionsTo make the pie crust:
Prepare one 2-crust batch of your favorite all butter pie crust. Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.
To make the salted caramel:
Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper.
Cook's Note: This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you've burned it and you'll have to start over.
Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream - the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam - be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.
To make the apple filling:
Juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples. Cook's Note: A mandolin works great for producing very thin slices.
Dredge all the apple slices in the freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning and to add flavor. Set the prepared apples aside.
To make the apple filling seasoning:
In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees F (depending on the hotness of your oven).
Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Cook's Note: Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.
Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 to 350 and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a long toothpick or small knife. The apples should be just soft.
Let the pie cool, then slice and enjoy.