A little more robust than the usual two-crust apple pie, I was amused to see a version of this appear in the latest 'Bon Apetit' magazine. It's nothing really new. I've been making this pie for 13 years, and it's been a hit everywhere I've brought it. The original recipe comes from a 1997 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine (the filling and the crumb topping). The crust recipe I've been using lately is from my 'Baking Illustrated' book, and the port caramel sauce is from an October 2003 'Food & Wine magazine'. The original pie recipe calls for stuff out of a jar. You can go that route, but this sauce is way better than anything I've ever purchased.
I've been really happy with this crust recipe. It uses a mixture of butter and shortening (see the recent Great Shortening Debate), so it's easy to handle, still tastes buttery, and I never have to add more than the minimum 6 tablespoons of water. It is on the soft side, so additional refrigeration may be needed for easier handling. I have also made this without a food processor when I'm too lazy to get it out. I used a good sturdy pastry blender, and made sure not to overmix.
Basic Pie Crust Dough
Makes enough for a double-crust pie, or two single-crust
2 1/2 cups (about 336 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp (4 g) salt
1 tablespoon (15 g) sugar
1/2 cup (100 g) vegetable shortening, chilled (I use Crisco butter-flavored)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, about 168 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6 to 8 (90-120 ml) tablespoons ice water
1. Process the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture as the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 10 one-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the mixture. With rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of a spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 2 more tablespoons ice water if the dough will not come together. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each to a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
3 tablespoon (25 g) all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
6 cups (1.5 L) thinly sliced, peeled apples
1 Recipe Crumb topping:
Stir together 1 cup (250 g) brown sugar (packed),
1/2 cup (125 g) all purpose flour,
1/2 cup (50 g) quick cooking rolled oats
Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 112g)) until the topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
1 cup caramel sauce:
Port Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (about 115 ml) ruby port
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
In a heavy medium saucepan, cook the granulated sugar over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Continue to cook, without stirring, until an amber caramel forms, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth. Return the caramel to the heat and carefully add the port (stir it in SLOWLY and use a wire whisk); the caramel will harden slightly. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the sauce to a pitcher and serve warm.
You'll also need 12-15 lightly toasted pecans.
To make the pie:
Prepare pastry for single crust. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12 inch circle. Transfer pastry to a deep dish 10-inch (25 cm) pie plate (the original recipe specified a 9-inch). Ease pastry into plate, being careful not to stretch it. Trim and crimp edge as desired.
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. Transfer apple mixture to the pastry lined pie plate. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over apple mixture.
To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375F (190C) oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with pecans, then drizzle with caramel topping. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8 servings.
--I always make more apple filling, since I'm using a bigger, deeper pie dish than the usual 9 inch. I add about 3 cups more more apples. Just be sure to add the proportional amounts of flour and sugar. It's going to mound up like a big-top circus tent before you bake it, but it will settle somewhat after it cools. I absolutely hate flat, or worse, sunken pies. Just a personal thing
--Consequently, bake it on a flat cookie sheet to prevent run-overs and messes.
--And another 'consequently': the baking time is going to be longer if you add extra apples. I have needed up to an extra half hour at times. I check doneness by using a sharp knife or skewer poked into the center to see if the apples still offer any resistance. Use the trick of covering up the crust with foil if it is getting too brown.
--I like a cinnamony pie, so I add more. Also just a dash of its good buddies: freshly grated nutmeg, ground cloves, and cardamom.
--What kind of apples? My favorite to bake with is Northern Spy. I have made blends using Granny Smith, Cortlands, or whatever is handy.
--I leave the nuts whole (the original recipe called for them chopped), so the nut-haters can easily pick them off. And they're pretty when they're whole.