Caramel Apple Pie - Impress-Your-Friends Baking Blog at - 121912

Impress-Your-Friends Baking

Caramel Apple Pie 
Sep. 1, 2009 4:46 pm 
Updated: Sep. 17, 2009 2:35 pm
I'm not ready for summer to be over, yet—but now that interesting apples are showing up at the farmers' market, I’m excited for fall baking. I was intrigued by this description of making a caramel apple sauce for a pie in this Sugar Cooking article.
I used a combination of Gravenstein apples, for flavor, and Ginger Gold, for firmness—although they didn't hold up as well as Golden Delicious seem to. I used the proportions from the hugely popular Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie recipe, which I'd never tried before. Since I was trying out the caramel sauce for flavor, I wanted a recipe that didn't load the pie filling up with cinnamon. I wanted to taste the apples, not the spices (although next time I'll probably add a bit of cinnamon).

Instead of using half brown and half white sugar, I used all white sugar to make the caramel:
  • 1 cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water.
  • When the sugar had caramelized to a nice brown color, I added 2 tablespoons of butter (I couldn't bring myself to use the full half cup called for in Grandma Ople's recipe), 1/3 cup apple cider, and a tablespoon of apple brandy.
  • I tossed my sliced apples with the three tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt; next time, I think I'll stir those into the caramel sauce at the end of the cooking process. I poured the hot caramel over my sliced apples, let the filling cool, and then poured it into my pie pan.
I used my own pie crust recipe; it's similar to Alan's Pie Crust, which uses both lard and butter. I baked the pie as directed in the recipe: 15 minutes at 425 degrees, and then at a reduced oven temperature of 350. I baked my pie much longer than the 35 to 45 minutes specified—it was probably more like an hour. I just kept baking it until the crust had turned a nice-looking golden brown color.
This was a great pie. I want to try it again next time by making more caramel sauce, maybe 1½ times the recipe, and adding about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and a little more brandy.
Gravenstein & golden delicious apples
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Butter & cider for caramel sauce
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Adding butter to the apple cider caramel
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Filled pie, waiting for the top crust
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Caramel Apple Pie
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More Caramel Apple Pie
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Caramel Apple Pie slice. Oh, yeah.
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Sep. 1, 2009 10:29 pm
Pie oh my! Thank you for sharing your recipe and your gorgeous photos. *drool*
Sep. 2, 2009 7:37 am
mmmmmm....caramel..... Looks and sounds delicious!!!!
Sep. 2, 2009 10:41 am
Summer is my favorite time of the year, but looking at your pie has made me long for colder days and the smell of baking. I will definitely give this recipe a try!
Sep. 2, 2009 11:44 am
Now that's what a crust should look like! You can tell just by looking at it how flaky it must be. I'll need to see if there's any shop around here that still sells lard. Yep, apple season is here! Thanks for the pie-making tips. Now maybe I'll get past the Pillsbury pre-made crusts forever!
Sep. 3, 2009 3:18 pm
OMG this looks good! I want to make one of these, too! Caramel and apple BELONG together, just like chocolate and hazelnut! Yum, yum... the perfect fall recipe.
Sep. 13, 2009 1:09 pm
This looks great. I am going to try this. I saw your photo of French Country Bread on the homepage in the contest and was hoping you had blogged about it. I have always wanted to make bread like that and would love to know the secret.
Sep. 15, 2009 4:21 am
Do you cook the caramel any further after adding the cider and butter? I'm guessing not but wanted to clarify. Tia
Sep. 15, 2009 11:37 am
Hey Cooking in Vermont--yeah, I meant to blog about it but the weather was too beautiful yesterday! To answer your caramel question: if the cider was so cold that it caused the caramel to sieze up, then yeah, I'll gently heat the sauce to melt it again. Usually, though, I can have the heat off but the pan still on the burner, and the pan is still so hot that the caramel stays nice and liquidy.
Sep. 15, 2009 2:49 pm
I came as close as I could to duplicating what you did with the french country bread and submitted a recipe photo. I really think these kinds of bread need a sourdough starter though because there is no sugar (or sweetener) or oil in them to add flavor. I am going to begin a starter tonight and see how it works out. Guess I'll know in a week or so.
Sep. 15, 2009 8:55 pm
I really liked the flavor from my 3-day process (overnight sponge, then a day of mixing, rising, and shaping, then another overnight proofing) but I bet you're right--a starter would add a lot to it. I'll be interested to read about your experience. (And by then maybe I'll have updated my blog entries....) Hey, I just looked at your photo: it's gorgeous!
Sep. 16, 2009 8:01 am
Thanks for the inspiration. I did let the dough rest in the fridge overnight and used a cup of rye flour which gave it much better flavor than my mishap the day before. I got a very nice chewy crust like the breads you get at artisan bakeries. I put a sheet pan on the bottom rack and allowed it to heat up along with my stone. Then I dumped about a cup of hot water (closer to 10 ounces)into the pan at the start of baking. Did you get nice big holes in the crumb with an all day rise? Sorry for so many questions.
Sep. 16, 2009 11:07 am
No, surprisingly--it was a very fine, spongy texture, which I guess I didn't expect. I really enjoyed it. (And I could talk about bread all day--ask any questions you want!) Your steam technique is a good one--I've tried spray bottles, but they never worked very well for me.
Sep. 16, 2009 11:08 am
Oh, and I think rye is a very under-utilized flour! I actually used light rye to dust the brotform, because it doesn't get absorbed as easily into the dough--but bread or AP flour works, too.
Sep. 16, 2009 3:09 pm
I read at breadtopia you need to increase the moisture content even further to get big holes. I made my starters today-one yeasted and one au natural with pineapple juice-so now I have to feed em and play the waiting game. I don't know why but I'm obsessed with getting big
Sep. 17, 2009 8:11 am
So, I figured out you got the nice swirl pattern using a proofing basket. I am planning on getting banneton. Could this fit a dough made with 4 cups of flour? What I am planning when my starter is ready: 2 cups starter (supposed to be equivalent to 2 tsp yeast...a little shy of the 2 1/4 in a package), 3 cups flour, and an unknown amount of water at this time. I haven't quite figured out how to calculate hydration yet. My mind has been swirling from all the stuff I've been reading at breadtopia and thefreshloaf. I am not sure if you factor in the water from the starter which is at 100% hydration. The french bread is 50% hydration but I've seen references to hydration approaching 90% in my reading. I wanted to shoot for 75% hydration in my initial attempt at achieving the holes I dig so much. I am thinking of making a trip to King Arthur flour this weekend. I've lived in Vermont for most of my life and I just found out you can visit their factory yesterday...duh me. I am going to procure one of these for baking loaves: I guess I am confused at this point because it was always my understanding that the crust on artisan breads was achieved through steam in the I did with putting a sheet pan on the bottom and dumping hot water onto it when I put the loaf into the oven. I have been trying to glean tidbits from reading about peoples' experience at breadtopia about how they achieved (or if they achieved) a nice chewy crust on their loaves using a dutch oven or clay baker. I haven't been able "glean" much. I was thinking about it though and it would seem to me that cooking in the semi-sealed environment of a clay baker or dutch oven would release the moisture of a very well hydrated dough and trap it inside achieving the same results as cooking it freeform on a baking stone with added steam. Would love to know your thoughts on this if you've managed to read this! Sorry for the long post...I can get very obsessed with things when I set my mind to doing something. I have long wanted to unravel the secrets of bread baking after having made a gazillion pizza doughs in the pizza joints I worked at. I just have one last comment. It seems to me this "new" "no knead" method for baking bread is a misnomer. I don't think well hydrated bread doughs are supposed to be kneaded. I think their gluten structure develops over the long proofing periods, not through kneading with doughs such as pizza dough with only a 25% hydration. I can well picture that bakers in the age before kitchenaids and hobarts would not want to hand knead large batches of dough. I once kneaded 6 15lb batches of pizza dough by hand in a pizza joint I worked at when half the state was without power because of an ice storm in 1998. It's definitely not for the feint of heart and I couldn't do it now. Sorry for the long post and my rambling. Time to feed my starters lol.
Sep. 17, 2009 2:35 pm
Ooooo! I'd DEFINITELY go visit King Arthur! I'm jealous. Lemme see if I can answer some of your questions: yeah, the bread bakers I've worked with believe that the wetter the dough, the better the flavor of the finished loaf—but the dough is VERY hard to work with. We'd mix it in a spiral mixer—a big European thing. The bowl turns, as well as the dough hook, so it's a gentler mixing action than a Hobart, which really beats on the dough. (When you're working with such large quantities, there's a whole bunch of science involved, like the "friction factor" of how much heat the mixer will generate, so you should adjust your water temperature accordingly, etc. etc. It's not an issue for home bakers, though.) We'd scoop the dough into big oiled bins to proof—and I do mean "scoop." You'd use a serrated knife to cut off a manageable piece of dough (dough doesn't like to be torn—it should always be cut with a bench knife or serrated knife) kind of bundle it up in your arms, and dump it in the bin…and repeat until all the dough was transferred from the mixer. The bin was covered with an oiled lid; after a couple of hours, we'd fold the dough over on itself, then wheel the stacks of bins into the walk-in cooler to rest and ferment gently. Later on in the afternoon, we'd bring them back out shape the loaves. One person works the scale, while the other baker(s) grab the scaled pieces of dough and shape them into rounds. (That's fun and competitive—it's very impressive to be able to scale out a 1# 12-oz piece of dough with one cut! If you take too long—oops, too heavy. Nope, too light—the other bakers mock you.) By the time you're through with pounds and pounds of dough, it's time to shape the rounds into loaves. Those guys I worked with were real pros—you practically couldn't see their hands move, they worked so fast. I, meanwhile, would have sticky dough-mitts up to my wrists; the wetter the dough, the faster you have to work in order to keep it from sticking to you. Definitely an acquired skill! (And of course, once you have a little dough on you, it just snowballs from there until you have to stop and clean off your hands.) When the loaves were shaped, they were arranged on floured couche clothes on boards, allowed to proof for a little while, then rolled back into the walk-in for the rest of the night, then baked the next morning. I'm impressed that you know about bakers' percentages; you've obviously been doing your research. 70-75% hydration sounds reasonable to me for home baking. I don't know what to say about the science behind the no-knead bread—I've tried one version that didn't work too well for me, and I need to give it another shot. As for baking in a crock or Le Creuset: that DOES work. The lid traps the steam generated by the loaf itself, so you don't have to add water/steam to the oven. Hey, I was reading your thread on the Recipe Exchange the other day, and you were mentioning that it's hard to get shaped loaves from the peel to the oven, no matter how much cornmeal you use. Have you tried baking loaves on parchment paper? (Put the shaped rounds on parchment before they've proofed.) That's worked for me for special loaves with gooey things in them (we used to make a roasted garlic-dry jack cheese sourdough); the parchment gets crispy but doesn't burn up even on a 400 degree baking stone. (Pick up some parchment from King Arthur while you're there—they have really good heavy-duty silicone-treated parchment.) Good luck!
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About Me
I'm a professionally trained baker/pastry chef and also, as a friend would say, an intrepid eater. My favorite foodie character in literature? Ben Gunn, the marooned pirate in "Treasure Island": "You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese—toasted, mostly—and woke up again, and here I were."
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