I can feel a change coming on. Summer has barely bid adieu, and I find myself searching for signs of a new season: changing leaves, the smell of bonfires, and cinnamon-spiced treats like this caramel apple pie.
A few years ago, I traveled with my mom and daughter to Michigan for a visit with my nana and my great-grandmother. Aimee was only a few weeks old, and we had planned the trip to introduce her to Grandma Great and spend some time with just us girls. Those early days of Michigan September brought cool air and a few crunchy leaves, along with orchards full of brightly colored apples, ripe for picking, juicing, and preserving. We visited a nearby farm and snacked on doughnuts and apple cider before filing our baskets with a bounty of red, green, and yellow fruit.
I traveled home with several bags of apples and soon had filled our freezer with containers of homemade pie filling. That weekend was the last time I saw Grandma Great before she passed, but the memories of those days spent have stayed with me. So many slices of apple pie came before that weekend but not a single one has passed since that I haven’t thought of that time together. Five women, knit together by love and faith and blood, chatting over cups of cider and the gentle noises of bitty baby coos. The unwarranted and unconditional affection that exists within the bonds of a mother/daughter relationship is rare and beautiful in and of itself, but witnessing the intangibles of that of love, moving freely within the ties of 5 generations, was enough to take my breath away. Those hours of laughter and cheek kisses, teary-eyed stories, prayers and whispered songs are gifts that I relive, even today, in the vibrant colors, smells, and tastes of this season.
Sweet reader, I hardly expect a caramel apple pie to swell your heart with love and a sense of belonging the way it does mine, but I know that those memories do, in fact, exist for you. Maybe you taste it in a slice of iced watermelon or the brine of a fresh oyster. Maybe you feel it when your fingers rub butter into flour, or in quiet the moments spent stirring a simmering pot of chicken noodle soup. Food has a way of melting and mixing into our stories, bringing up memories and feelings with something as simple as an ice cream cone or handful of popcorn.
So share your story. Honor it with your words and your time spent in the kitchen. Tell it to your children with a batch of chocolate chip cookies or syrup-soaked pancakes. Keep it alive with a sip of cider or a slice of pie. Let food be a thing that tells your story and connects you to your people, to your past.
This caramel apple pie is special. Dessert is always a great idea in my book, but there’s something about that first apple pie of the year that just really knocks my socks off. This caramel apple pie is exceptional, with a sweet and salty layer of homemade caramel coating all of that tangy autumn fruit. The whole thing is encased in my favorite pie crust, and because it’s prepared in a jelly roll pan, you’ll have pie to share with all your friends. Tell them they can thank you later.
To make this caramel apple pie, we start by whipping up the crust. Homemade pie crust is worth the time and effort, so check out my blog post for the details and pass on that store-bought stuff, okay? While the pie crust is chilling in the fridge, we will whip up a homemade salted caramel sauce. Sugar and water cook on the stove, uninterrupted, until it turns from clear, to golden, to amber. Carefully whisk in some heavy cream, vanilla, salt, and butter, and allow it to cool briefly while you prepare the rest of the caramel apple pie.
Start by peeling and dicing the apples. Because this is a slab pie, we want our apples to be diced into 1/2″ chunks, as opposed to cut into large slices. I prefer to use golden delicious apples, but throw in whatever baking apples you have on hand. Toss the apples with sugar, spices and a bit of flour, and set them aside while you assemble the caramel apple pie. Roll out half of your crust large enough so that there is an overhang on all sides of a standard jelly roll pan. Transfer the pie crust into the pan and gently press the dough into all of the edges and corners. Patch any holes with extra dough and trim off any excess. Spread out the apple filling into the crust and drizzle the caramel evenly over the top of it all. Roll out your second half of pie crust to blanket the apples and pinch the two layers of crust together to seal the filling inside the pie. Vent the top of the dough and coat it with a thin layer of egg wash before baking.
Once out of the oven, this caramel apple pie is bubbly, fragrant, and golden brown. The crust is tender and flaky, a perfect combination for the syrupy apple filling. This caramel apple pie tastes and smells just like fall, the perfect dessert to welcome in this new season. Make this pie for your next football party, Thanksgiving, or just a regular old weeknight dessert. There’s no reason you can’t break out a special dessert just because, right? Share this slab with your people and tell them you love them. Everyone wins there. Happy fall and Friday to all of you- have a great weekend!
If you love this caramel apple pie, you should try:
Caramel Apple Pie
This caramel apple pie is prepared in a sheet pan. Juicy apples and sweet and salty caramel are baked into a buttery, flaky crust.
- Prep Time: 45
- Cook Time: 60
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
For the pie crust:
- 4–1/2 cups (585 gm) all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230 gm) unsalted butter, cold
- 14 tablespoons (200 gm) shortening, cold
- 10 tablespoons ice water
For the caramel:
- 1–1/2 cups (300 gm) sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 cup (240 mL) heavy cream, slightly warmed
- 1–1/4 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter
For the pie filling:
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)
- 6 cups (about 760 gm) of ½” peeled and diced baking apples. (I use about 6–7 large golden delicious apples)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
To prepare the pie crust:
- Give the dry ingredients a whiz in the food processor to combine.
- Pulse in the shortening and butter, just until evenly dispersed and pea-sized clumps form.
- Add 6 tablespoons of ice water and pulse, add in ad additional tablespoon of water until a dough begins to form. I usually need 8 tablespoons of water.
- Remove dough from food processor and separate in two round disks. Wrap in Saran wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes prior to use.
To prepare the caramel:
- Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan (at least 6 quart) over medium-high heat. Allow the sugar and water to cook undisturbed about 10-11 minutes until the sugar has turned a deep amber hue. Carefully and slowly add the heavy cream in, whisking all the while to combine. Please note that the caramel will bubble and steam and sputter, so be sure to add the cream slowly and with care. Continue whisking and cooking until the caramel is smooth and well combined. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt and butter, whisking until the butter is incorporated. Set aside while you prepare your pie ingredients.
To prepare the pie filling:
- Combine the lemon juice and apples in a large bowl. Add the flour, cinnamon, and sugar and toss to combine evenly. Set aside while you make assemble your pie.
To assemble your pie:
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Prepare an egg wash by whisking 1 egg with 2 teaspoons of water. Set aside while you prepare the pie.
- Roll out one half of your dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12”x17” rectangle. Once smoothed and sized, roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and transfer the dough into a 15″ x 10″ x 1″ jelly roll pan. Gently press the dough into the edges of the pan and trim off excess dough, leaving a 3/4’” overhand around all edges. Use some excess dough to fill in spots where the dough may have cracked or wasn’t long enough.
- Sprinkle your prepared apples into the pan and spread out to fill evenly. Drizzle the caramel over the apples, being sure to distribute it evenly. You can re-warm the caramel slightly if needed.
- Roll out your remaining piece of dough to a 12”x17” rectangle. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer it to the pie. Center the pie top on the pan and fold the bottom edge over the top, crimping with your fingers as desired. Use a knife to vent the pie and brush the egg wash over the top crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the caramel inside is bubbling. Rotate the pie during baking as needed to brown evenly.