We always had a family tradition at our house. Every October we would go to the apple grove out in the country so we could pick our basket of apples for my Mom's famous apple pie. We would stop at the little family owned grocery store in town and pick up some homemade vanilla ice cream too. It was always a fun day at the orchard and we knew that that afternoon the whole house would be filled with that heavenly smell. When most people think of falling leaves and pumpkins and all those things that come with fall....I remember my Mom's wonderful apple pie. I now call this my Mom's magical pie because when I make it, I am transported back to those wonderful days as a child.
Mom's Magical Apple Caramel Pie
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chilled (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Make sure all your ingredients are thoroughly chilled before you begin. Freeze your butter for the best pie crusts. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Use a food processor if possible to quickly cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it looks like cornmeal. It's okay to have a few pea sized pieces of butter throughout. If doing this manually using a pastry cutter, work quickly. The quicker you work the better because you want your butter to stay cold.
Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough forms a ball. (If doing by hand, gather the dough and gently press into a ball.) It should come together loosely; if not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough in half; place each on plastic wrap. Flatten into disks. Wrap tightly; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Remove one disk from refrigerator. Between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, press rolling pin gently all over dough to flatten it slightly. Working from the center to the edge in all directions, roll out dough into a round about 3 inches larger than the pie plate.
Wrap the dough around the rolling pin; lift and center it over the pie plate. Gently unroll the dough over the plate, leaving an even amount of overhang around the perimeter. Flute the edge of the crust using the pointer finger of one hand and the thumb and pointer of the other hand.
Roll out the second disk between two sheets of parchment and cut into 1-inch strips for the lattice top. Chill bottom and top crusts while you prepare the pie filling. But first prepare salted caramel sauce.
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick of fresh unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
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. This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, the caramel should just barely begin to begin to smoke, but be careful not to burn it or you will have to start over.
Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove from heat and immediately add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble rapidly and steam so be careful as the steam and sugar will be very hot.
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set aside while you prepare the pie filling.
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
6 large apples (Granny Smith, Gala, or Cortland)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Core, peel, and thinly slice the apples, and place in a large mixing bowl. Add zest and juice of the lemon and using your hands make sure the apples are coated in the lemon juice so they don't turn brown.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
Assemble the pie
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
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. Save a small portion of the caramel for garnishing.
Assemble the lattice crust and blend in with the fluted edges of the crust.
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
Mix together the yolk and cream. Brush the crust with this egg wash and 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 350 and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a small knife. The apples should be just soft.
Let the pie cool. Slice and enjoy with vanilla ice cream!
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