When I think of my favorite desserts, I think of pastries. Give me a cannoli, some kataifi, or a chocolate-filled croissant and I’m in heaven. But my husband? Well, he’s a pie guy. He prefers pies over cakes, ice cream, and pretty much every other sweet treat. He loves all pies, but if he had to pick a favorite, it would be a warm apple pie.
And so, my quest for making the perfect apple pie began. I baked (and baked and baked) and then finally at Thanksgiving, my father and husband declared this apple pie “the best ever.” I sincerely hope you agree (if not, I apologize in advance for the spent calories).
Now, making an apple pie is a fairly simple process. Please don’t be deterred by the length of this post. I’m just trying to be thorough, y’all! You could make your own pie crust, but I generally don’t because by the time I decide to make the pie, I want it fast. Fast, I tell you! So, I use a deep dish frozen crust for the bottom and a refrigerated pie crust for the top (I do realize I’ll probably be burned -figuratively speaking- for violating the Apple Pie Purist Club’s rules, but I can live with that).
With that said, here is your ingredient list for the pie:
- 7-10 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
- 1 frozen deep dish pie crust
- 1 refrigerated, rolled out pie crust
- 1-2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbs. sugar
For the caramel topping:
- 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup water
Okay, first things first – get someone in your house to peel and core the apples because it is a time consuming and thankless task. Seriously, it’s my least favorite part of the entire process so I have the hubs pitch in here. I should mention that you can use whatever apples you prefer. I like using Golden Delicious apples myself, but I’m sure this would come out great regardless of the variety of apple that you choose. Next, slice your apples into thin wedges. You want them to be done cooking by the time your crust is golden.
Once your apples are sliced, toss them really well with 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar and set them aside.
The next step is making the caramel topping that we’re going to pour over the assembled pie. Caramel is easy to make, but you need to watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Just add all of your ingredients (1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar) into your saucepan and bring it up to a boil.
Once it’s at a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low (so that it’s still simmering) and stir it until it thickens in consistency to a very thin caramel. You want it pourable, but not fully a liquid. My test for knowing it’s done is when it coats the spoon. Naturally, I forgot to get a picture of the caramel sauce when it was done, but it usually takes about 5-7 minutes of stirring to get to the right consistency. Once it’s done, take it off of the burner and set aside.
Okay, the apples are tossed and ready and the sauce is done. Now, the next step is getting the top crust ready. Lightly flour your cutting board and lay out your refrigerated crust. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until it’s a bit thinner and more oval than round. I like my top crust thin, so I can usually stretch one refrigerated crust to cover the tops of two apple pies. Once it’s rolled out, slice it in thin strips, about an inch thick.
Once that’s done, put your apples into your bottom crust. I generally like to load in as many apples as my dish can handle, but last night, I was making two apple pies so I put fewer apples than I normally do. In other words, you can put as many or as few apples as you’d like. How liberating, right? Just remember that they will shrink down when you bake them, so make sure it’s at least slightly mounded – like the photo below. You’ll see later on that this pie ended up being completely level.
For the top crust assembly, you’re going to make a basket weave top. Basically, you’ll lay one complete row of strips down (evenly spaced), then you will fold back every other strip. Lay down a strip in the opposite direction, put the first row of strips back into place and then fold back the alternating strips. Keep this up until the entire top looks like the bottom right picture. Notice that I’ve left small spaces in between the weaves so that the caramel sauce can seep into the pie (I don’t know if that made any sense at all, but there you have it.)
Finally (FINALLY!), you’re going to spoon the caramel all over the top of the crust, making sure that it goes into all of the small gaps. Do this slowly and carefully because if you pour it too quickly, it will end up all over your counters.
**Imaginary picture of me spooning caramel over crust. Management, I really need an assistant.**
We’re going to bake this beauty in a 375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes (or until the top is a golden brown). **Tip: I bake my inside of a roasting dish because as the pie filling starts to bubble, it has a tendency to overflow and believe me when I say that caramel is a bitch to clean off of your oven’s elements.
Once it’s done, resist the urge to dig in immediately (although it smells so, so good!). Instead, let it cool for at least 15 minutes so that the inside is not molten lava. But then, THEN, you can dig in. I can almost never get these slices to come out looking pretty, but once everyone tastes it, no one will care what it looks like. Promise.
I almost always make two pies at a time – one to eat and one to freeze. I freeze my second pie BEFORE baking it. I put it in the freezer by itself (see below) to flash freeze it and after about 30 minutes, I’ll wrap it in foil so that’s it’s ready to bake the next time we have a hankering for some apple pie.
And, that’s a wrap! Serve it with some vanilla ice cream and you’ll have your family and guests eating out of your palm. Of course, you’ll also have to make this pie at every family gathering, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.