Cider Caramel Apple Pie
I know what you’re thinking: more pie? Can’t she even go four posts before blogging about pie again? Well, it would seem that I can’t. Having said that, this isn’t just any pie – this is a cider caramel apple pie from Erin’s fabulous book ‘The Fearless Baker’. Aside from a small amount of brown sugar, the whole pie is sweetened entirely by apples. Isn’t that just mind-boggling? The concept of boiling the cider down until it was at caramel consistency was excuse enough for me to get my pie dish out again. As if I needed an excuse.
Can we just talk about ‘The Fearless Baker’ for a quick second? I practically begged Boyfriend to get it for me as a Christmas present last year, & almost squealed with delight as I ripped off the wrapping paper. Since that wonderful day, I’ve studied the pages of the book several times over. More than just a collection of recipes, this is a book that explains the how & the why behind baking. Honestly, I’ve learned so much from reading Erin’s words of wisdom that The Fearless Baker has become one of the most invaluable books I own.
Fan-girl moment over, let’s talk pie.
The cider is boiled down for around an hour until it becomes a little thicker & caramel-ey. That’s when you add a few drops of vanilla extract & some butter and holy moly – the smell was so divine that I almost sacrificed the whole pie just to eat that by itself. Against your instincts, you leave the caramel to cool slightly while you distract yourself by preparing the apple filling. The apple, a little spice, & the cooled caramel get mixed together & you start to realise that this is the very best pie you’ve made in a while. The mixture gets piled high in the pie base & you cover the whole thing with the top crust. You can leave it whole & cut a few air slots in the top, but I decided to try my hand at a diagonal lattice, which was easier than I thought it would be.
Intensely apple flavoured, this is definitely a pie for special occasions. It’s buttery & salty, not too sweet but not too tart either, all topped off by a flaky crust with a crunchy top. Erin, thank you.
Makes one 9-inch pie | Recipe from ‘The Fearless Baker’
- 340g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 255g unsalted butter, very cold & cut into small cubes
- 4-6 tablespoons of ice water (I normally use around 4)
- 2 litres apple cider
- 57g salted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 large apples, peeled & thinly sliced
- 212g light brown sugar
- 40g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg, beaten; for egg-wash
- demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- lightly whipped cream, for serving
- First, make the pie dough. Whisk together the flour & salt in a large bowl. Working quickly, add the butter to the flour & toss it around. Use your fingers to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter to make sure each piece is covered in flour. If at any time the butter seems warm, refrigerate the bowl briefly. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of ice water into the bowl & use a gentle hand to stir together until just combined. You’ve added enough water to the mixture if you can pick up a handful of the dough & easily squeeze it together without it falling apart, but without it being all sticky. Split the dough into two disks, each wrapped in cling film & leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using. (Remember, we need to keep the dough extra chilled if we want it to be extra flaky.)
- Once the dough has chilled, remove one of the disks from the fridge & on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a roughly 12-inch circle that is about ¼-inch thick. Carefully press the dough into your pie dish, leaving any excess dough hanging over the sides; store in the fridge. Remove the second disk from the fridge & roll it out into a rectangle roughly 12-inches in size. Place on a sheet pan & leave to chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling. (Think of the flakes.)
- Next, we make the filling. Pour the cider into a large pot & boil – without stirring – over a medium heat for about 60 minutes, or until it reduces down to a sauce with the consistency of a thin caramel. Be sure to check it every 15 minutes or so. When you’ve reached the desired consistency, stir the butter & vanilla extract into the mixture. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl & leave to cool slightly.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar & cinnamon. Place the prepared apples into a large bowl & sprinkle over the spice mixture. Gently toss the apples in the mixture, being careful not to break up the apples but ensuring that they all get evenly coated. Pour the cooled caramel over the apples & toss well to combine.
- Remove the chilled pie base from the fridge & carefully arrange the apples in the base as flatly as possible – being careful to avoid leaving gaps between the slices. Pour any remaining caramel dregs lingering in the bowl over the top of the apples.
- Remove the chilled rectangle from the fridge & place on a lightly floured work surface. To make a diagonal lattice, use a ruler to cut 10 even strips of dough. Place the first 5 strips diagonally across the top of the filling. Rotate the pie 90 degrees & lay the remaining strips on the diagonal also. Proceed to weave the strips together as you would with a traditional lattice, leaving any spare dough hanging over the edge.
- To crimp the edge, trim any leftover pastry to leave a 1-inch boarder the whole way around. Gently fold the edges over itself, in toward the centre of the pie. Go around the whole pie, gently folding inwards & pressing the dough together. I made what Erin calls a “basic finger crimp” around the edges of my pie, which is done by pressing in with your left thumb from the outside of the pie while at the same time pressing out with your right thumb & forefinger in a V-shape from the inside. (I swear, it’s less complicated than it sounds).
- Pop the whole pie into the freezer for 15-20 minutes & preheat the oven to 220C. When ready, remove the pie from the freezer & quickly brush the whole pie with egg-wash & sprinkle generously with demerara sugar. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown & the filling is bubbling.
- Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes & serve with a big dollop of lightly whipped cream.
- I didn’t boil my cider down for long enough, so my caramel was thinner than it was meant to be. Be sure to boil the cider down until significantly thicker.