Apple pie has long been considered the unofficial symbol of the United States and one of its signature comfort foods. The term “as American as apple pie” has become a popular expression although neither apples, apple pie, nor pie were native to America.
The first printed recipe for apple pie was from England, where it was generally made double-crusted with the top crust either solid or latticed.
The traditional recipe usually calls for the pie to be assembled completely raw before being baked at high temperature first to puff up the pastry, then lowered to allow the apples to cook. However, this often causes the bottom crust to not get the requisite heat to puff up before the apples start to leach their juice, resulting in the dreaded soggy bottom.
The best solution is to blind bake the bottom crust first and allow it to cool completely before filling with the wet apples. The crust needs to be cold because otherwise it will absorb any liquid in the apples. The top crust or lattice can then be attached by pressing gently into the edge or folded under the rim of the bottom crust.
I’ve just discovered how easy it is to prepare pastry dough in a food processor. I just need to dump in all the ingredients and pulse until they come together into a mass without the danger of overworking the dough. Incidentally, I’ve also added lemon zest into the dough that gives a boost of flavour that enhances this all-butter pastry.
The apples you choose will depend on the preferred flavour and texture of your pie filling. Granny Smith green apples tend to be featured in most recipes but it will result in a very tart and crunchy filling, while McIntosh apples will create a sweet but mushy filling. I prefer a mix of flavours and textures, so I’ve opted for a combination of Granny Smith and Fuji apples that give me a tart sweetness with a crunch. You can enjoy it with different varieties that are available all-year-round.
If you’ve never drizzled caramel over apple pie, this will be a treat. Caramel sauce is not at all difficult to prepare, but the luscious flavour and gooey texture simply bring this dessert to a next level. Especially when prepared from the marinated juice and paired with vanilla ice-cream, it’s apple pie à la mode with the most!
- Shortcrust Pastry:
- 280g all-purpose flour
- 140g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp iced water
- 1 small egg, beaten for glazing
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 4 Royal Gala or Fuji apples
- 115g brown sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- ¼ tsp salt to taste
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 15g unsalted butter
- Caramel Sauce:
- ¼ cup apple juice
- 115g unsalted butter
- 140g brown sugar
- ½ cup cream
- In a food processor, pulse all the pastry ingredients until they come together and form a solid mass. Split into two unequal portions of about 2:1 ratio and flatten into round discs. Wrap the discs in baking paper and allow them to rest in the chiller for about an hour.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling by peeling and coring the apples, and then cutting them into thin slices. Immediately squeeze in lemon juice and marinate with the rest of the filling ingredients, except the butter, for about 30 minutes.
- When the pastry dough is sufficiently rested, roll out the bigger portion for the bottom crust in between two sheets of baking paper until it fits a 23-centimetre deep pie dish. Line the dish with the pastry dough with about one centimetre of overhang. Trim off excess dough and use them to repair any cracks in the crust. Prick the dough all over with a fork and allow it to freeze for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 225°C and blind bake the frozen dough for 20 minutes until pale golden. Remove from the oven and trim the overhanging excess crust while still hot. Then allow the crust to cool completely before filling, about 30 minutes.
- Drain out any juice from the marinated apples and save the marinade for the caramel sauce.
- Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern in the baked crust until they are all filled. Dot with cubes of cold unsalted butter. Roll out the smaller portion of pastry dough and cut into long strips of about 1½-centimetre wide. Weave the strips over the apples in a lattice pattern, making sure to attach the ends into the edge of the baked bottom crust. Brush the egg wash over the crust and bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden.
- While the pie is baking, prepare the caramel sauce by boiling the saved marinade until thickened. When all the liquid has boiled away, turn the heat down to low and add butter to melt.
- Add sugar and cream and continue cooking until all the sugar has dissolved into a smooth sauce.
- Remove from heat and serve warm drizzled over the apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.