Other people’s recipes: Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ Salted Caramel Apple Pie

[Apologies for the lateness of this post — my Internet connection went down on Monday while I was at work and didn’t come back until Tuesday morning.]

The second of the seasonal pies I decided to do from Emily and Melissa Elsen’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book was the apple pie. They call it “Salted Caramel Apple Pie”, and while it did have a small amount of Maldon sea salt both in the filling and on the crust, there was nothing about the result that made anyone say “Mmmm… salted caramel”. In fact, the caramel sauce itself didn’t contain any salt at all, which is unusual in my experience. In fact, the caramel in general was a bit unusual, although I haven’t made that many caramel sauces; normally, butter is added at the end, after quenching the molten sugar with cream, but this recipe puts it in at the beginning. This should, I suppose, give a sort of brown-butter flavor to the caramel, although I generally think caramel is plenty flavorful on its own. For safety, the recipe makes more caramel sauce than is actually required to prepare the pie itself; I’ll have to find something to do with the rest. The whole batch of sauce:
Prepared caramel sauce
The pie uses between half and three quarters of a cup of the caramel sauce, so there’s still a good bit left over (although I didn’t need quite so big a container to store it in). In order to account for this, I had to compute the nutrition details of the caramel sauce separately; see the label below.

As for the apples, while the recipe suggests two supermarket-standby varieties (Granny Smith and Golden Delicious), I went to a local orchard to get fresh apples and ended up with Gravensteins and what I think are Macouns for my pie, based on my reading of the signs at the orchard’s retail stand. Not having an apple-peeling machine I cored, peeled, and sliced the apples by hand, macerating the slices as directed in lemon juice and sugar:
Apple slices

Meanwhile, it’s time to take the pastry out of the refrigerator. This recipe calls for a lattice top, and since my kitchen is very small, I decided to cut the lattice ahead of time and refrigerate it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet:
Pastry strips for lattice
The two lumps of dough in the foreground are trimmings that I saved from the lattice-making process; I combined these with trimmings from the bottom crust to make a cinnamon-sugar pastry treat.

After sitting for half an hour, the apple slices are drained and mixed with a sugar and spice mixture. The recipe calls for “raw sugar”, but that’s not a well-defined term; of the choices in my pantry, I chose to use dark Muscovado, a less-refined sugar I commonly buy and use in place of dark brown sugar. (I wonder if by “raw sugar” they really meant to reference “Sugar in the Raw” brand turbinado sugar, but their editor didn’t want it to look like product placement.) The filling is then ready to be piled into the pie shell, which I didn’t do a great job of, and the caramel sauce is poured on top. A sprinkle of flake sea salt (Maldon was presumably intended, and what I used), and it’s ready for that lattice top:
Filled pie, ready for lattice top

In making a pie like this it is vitally important to place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch the inevitable drips and leaks of sugary filling — particularly so if your oven racks, like mine, are not quite level. (When I get a new range I’ll make sure that’s fixed!) After nearly an hour in the oven, my pie had leaked quite a lot of liquid:
What a mess!

Despite the leakage (which also made a bit of a caramel mess on the bottom of the pie plate), the finished pie turned out quite nicely. The lattice top was covered in egg wash (as one does) with a sprinkling of Demerara sugar and some additional sea salt, and it bakes up very nicely indeed:
Finished pie
(See that one big flake of sea salt sticking up?) For double-crust pies like this, it’s best to use a long serrated knife like a bread knife to slice them; otherwise it’s difficult to cut through the top crust or lattice without ruining the appearance.
Pie and a slice

Here’s the obligatory close-up of a single slice:
Pie slice in cross-section

And of the complete pie with a slice removed:
Pie with one slice missing


Caramel sauce

The caramel sauce recipe makes about a cup and a third.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings per container: about 11
Amount per serving
Calories 187 Calories from fat 108
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12g 18%
 Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Potassium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
 Dietary fiber 0g 0%
 Sugars 18g
Proteins 0g 0%
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 0%

Apple pie

This is based on the high end of the range for caramel sauce suggested in the recipe, three quarters of a cup.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/8 pie
Servings per container: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 580 Calories from fat 282
% Daily Value
Total Fat 31g 48%
 Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Sodium 355mg 15%
Potassium 220mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 69g 23%
 Dietary fiber 5g 20%
 Sugars 30g
Proteins 4.5g 9%
Vitamin A 22%
Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 0%
Iron 6%
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