Monday, October 01, 2018

Fall Skillet Apple Spiced Caramel Pie

My favorite season has come...Fall!...and I have finally been home long enough to bake with some Gravenstein apples from our trees. I saw this recipe online a while ago and saved it until I had time and reason to make an apple pie...and then I changed it significantly (so what else is new?).

Sweetie has been losing weight on purpose for the last couple of months and I've been cooperating by baking far, far less than usual. It's been good for us both (I'm lighter too...funny how it works that way) but I miss the creativity of baking. This one required a lot of creativity, plus knowledge of the ingredients, but the resulting pie was fabulous! If at all possible, use a cast iron skillet to make this. A pie pan will work, I suppose, but the cast iron gives you a lovely bottom crust.

Last night we celebrated the birthday of a good friend so I had an excellent excuse to bake and to bake this amazing apple pie. I highly recommend that you bake it. Sweetie is not a big fan of apple pie, but he really liked this one.

One of the major changes to the recipe came about because Gravenstein apples, the kind we grow, tend to bake up very soft and they throw off plenty of juice, too. I also added some pie spice because an apple pie without spice just seems wrong. It doesn't fight with the vanilla and bourbon, but enhances each.

If you are using Gravenstein apples, you need to do the microwave part because with heat they shrink and also give off a lot of juice. If you skip it you will likely get a top crust that is high over a void before you get to the apple filling and the bottom crust will likely be soft and swimming in juices as you cut the pieces.

If you are using apples like MacIntosh, Braeburn, Granny Smith, etc., that keep their shape and don't exude lots of juice, just skip the microwave part and only use 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce to mix in with the apples...keep the rest to serve with the pie. The sauce is lovely all by itself and would be great over ice cream or fruit and pound cake.

The resulting pie when made with Gravenstein apples is fairly dense, not high, just sweet enough and there is a lovely, flaky crust that is browned on the bottom because of the cast iron skillet. The aroma of apples and spice is intoxicating and the flavor of apple is enhanced by the caramel sauce. You will likely have trouble eating only one piece...but that leaves some for breakfast!

Skillet Caramel Spice Apple Pie
a variation of a recipe on
Serves 8

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy margarine (or butter)
3 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (I use Original Silk Soy Creamer) or 1/2 & 1/2
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Pie Spice, or cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 set of prepared pie crusts (I uses Pillsbury ReadyCrusts)
3 pounds apples, peeled and cut into 1/2" thick slices
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided (only 2 1/2 needed if not doing microwave part)
1 lg egg yolk, lightly beaten (reserve egg white for sealing crusts)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sanding sugar (optional)

In a medium pot melt the margarine or butter. Stir in the brown sugar, , soy creamer or 1/2 & 1/2,  salt and pie spice or cinnamon. Over medium-high, cook the mixture, stirring until it bubbles. Continue cooking, stirring for 2 more minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and, if using, the bourbon. Cool almost to room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring at about 10 minutes to keep a skin from forming.

Fit one pie crust in the bottom and press up the sides of a 9" cast iron skillet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, making sure that one rack is in the bottom position in the oven.

Toss apples with 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch in a large bowl. Pour 1/3 cup cooled caramel sauce over the apples and toss to coat.

Microwave part: Put the apple slices that have been coated with cornstarch and 1/3 cup caramel sauce and microwave on full power for one minute, with bowl covered with a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Stir then microwave again for one minute. Apples will have reduced in volume and there will be a lot of juice. Remove any cover and place bowl in refrigerator. Stir every 15 minutes and keep refrigerated until apples are cool to the touch. Remove from the fridge and use a ladle to remove 1/4 cup of the juices from the bowl. Add an additional 2 tablespoons cornstarch to the juices and stir or whisk until the cornstarch and juices are totally combined. Stir that mixture back into the apples. Stir in the rest of the caramel sauce and stir until apples are coated. Now you are ready to put the filling into the prepared pie-crusted skillet.

Note: If you are using apples that hold their shape and don't release a lot of juice when cooked, skip the microwave part. You will still toss prepared apples with the 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and the 1/3 cup caramel sauce until coated, but the remaining sauce will be available to drizzle over the finished, served, pie. The additional cornstarch won't be needed.

Remove prepared crust from the fridge. Pour apple filling into prepared crust. Place remaining pie crust over apple filling. Seal by lightly coating the exposed side dough in the skillet with egg white and pressing the top crust to it. Crimp crust edges together.

Use a sharp knife to cut 6 - 8 one inch slits in top crust to let steam escape. Whisk together egg yolk and water and brush over crust. If desired, scatter sanding sugar over.

Bake on bottom rack of preheated over for 55 minute - 1 hour. After about 30 minutes, shield crust with foil if needed to prevent excessive browning.

Bake until crust is golden, apples tender, and filling bubbly. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely 3 hours. Serve & enjoy.


    We had a family funeral and it was so warm last Wednesday/Thursday that we ended up with SO MUCH extra food (we catered the repast, because we were all exhausted, and too many out-of-town guests and not enough time to talk if we'd cooked on top of everything else)... in our stocking feet, aprons over good dresses, we processed and hulled quarts of strawberries and pounds of apples and wrapped and froze and prepped things for another day... I have TONS of apples already cored and sliced in the freezer, and I have a premade pie crust in the fridge!!!

    And a really nice cast iron skillet...
    So, thank you. I'm going to make a giant batch of apple sauce, too, but this pie, I think, comes first...

  2. So sorry for your loss, but happy for you that it means apple pie, especially this apple pie. I think you will really like it. I love the image of y'all gathered, processing fruit in good dresses, because that kind of sharing is so healing and comforting...if the family bonds over food as mine does. Could you let me know if you did it with our without the microwave part? Just wondering since I only did it with the microwave part.
    Sending hugs to you dear Tanita!