Pie: Girl’s best friend.

Pie: Girl’s best friend.

So, today is Monday, and I’m posting yesterday’s post. πŸ™‚ PIE!

The second pie for the month of January is: Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie!

Here’s the recipe:

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie (from Ken Haedrich’s book, Pie)

1 recipe Basic Flaky Pie Pastry, Single Crust (see below), modified as instructed in step 1 and refrigerated

10 caramels, each cut into four pieces (the little candy size)

Filling:

7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Golden Delicious apples

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecan Crumb Topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 of a stick), cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Caramel & Garnish:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon water

30 caramels

Large handful of pecan halves

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Prepare the pastry according to the recipe (keep looking below, it’ll be there eventually, lol), using a total of 3 tablespoons of sugar. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper (I rough it when I roll my pie crusts – good old kitchen table & flour), roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Scatter the caramel pieces in the pie shell and place in the freezer while you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Combine the apples, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mix well, then set aside for 5-10 minutes to juice. Mix the granulated sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Scrap the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the fruit with your hands. Put the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the crumb topping. Combine the flour, pecan halves, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times, chopping the nuts coarsely. Scatter the butter over the dry mixture and pulse the machine again until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a medium-size bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers to make damp, gravelly crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tap them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips. (I read this too quickly and just placed a sheet underneath mine. Flat foil doesn’t catch much – it pooled, and THEN poured into my oven. Delightful!) Bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, 30 to 40 minutes. If necessary, cover th epie with loosely tented alumninum foil for the last 15 minutes to keep the top from getting to dark. (I didn’t need to do that last step, though my oven runs about 25 degrees too cool, just check it as you go.)

6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for about 1 hour.

7. While the pie is still warm–approaching the 1-hour mark–prepare the caramel. Combine the butter, water, and caramels in the top of a double boiler. (I don’t have one, I used my smallest pyrex glass bowl and a saucepan.) Melt the caramels over, not in, barely simmering water. This may take 10 minutes or more. To facilitate the melting, press down on them as they start to soften and melt. When melted, whisk the mixture until it is smooth, then drizzle the caramel over the entire surface of the pie. Immediately press the pecan halves into the caramel in a random fashion (I’m too anal, I have a very clear pattern…), then sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top as well. Let cool for another hour before serving.

That’s a BIG recipe. As I said above, I don’t have a double boiler, only a steamer which obviously wouldn’t work. I also don’t have a food processor (*yet* – tax refund!) so I chopped up the pecans by hand, takes a while but the end result is really the same. I then finished the crumb mixture in my KitchenAid mixer. Works great! Unless your husband froze all the unsalted butter and then you’ll have to mix it, give up, leave it to semi-melt while your pie resumes baking, and then after the pie is done come back and remix the crumbs which now work slightly better. No worries, it all worked out. Cam still gets some pie, well, at least one slice. πŸ˜‰

And here is “below”:

For a Single Crust:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar (plus your two tablespoons above to make a total of three, don’t forget!)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces

1/4 cup water

To make with an electric mixer:

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening, breaking it into smaller pieces and tossing it with the flour. With the mixer on low speed, blend the shortening into the flour until you have what looks like coarse, damp meal, with both large and small clumps. Sprinkle on half the water. Turning the machine on and off, mix briefly on a low speed. Add the remaining water until the dough starts to form large clumps. (Don’t over mix!) Use your hands, pack the pastry into a ball (just one since we’re only using a single-crust recipe), make into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

If you like making pie, or would like to know more about achieving a flakier crust, better crust, want new pie recipes – anything you could think of regarding pie – this book is great! Anything you could ever want to know about pie, and tips and funny tid-bits from all different bakers and chefs. I checked it out from my local library and immediately wanted a copy but considering it’s over 640 pages long, it’s a wee bit on the spendy side. And obviously, WHERE would I put it? But check it out, Ken Haedrich is awesome. πŸ™‚

That being said, I am off to do MORE homework. And no, it doesn’t ever end. I’m surviving, all is well! πŸ™‚

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