Updated: Oct 13
It is mid september and just about to become sweater season, which means it is definitely apple season. Granted, I am pretty sure I could eat apple pie all year round. However, there is nothing better than schlepping your family to an apple orchard and picking a ridiculous amount of apples. And then making an insane amount of apple desserts!
Kidding... and kind of not kidding here.
For my first apple dessert this fall I had to go back to my roots and make a traditional American Apple Pie. To make this apple pie even more extravagant, I topped it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and copious amounts of my homemade salted caramel sauce.
After you try this apple pie recipe, you will look no further. I am going to focus today on the apples I used as well as the apple pie filling but do not fret, I have a link to my gluten free pie crust recipe, if you don't already have it. If you are not gluten free, feel free to use your own trusted pie crust recipe or go ahead and give mine a try. I promise you won't regret it.
A buttery flaky pie crust filled with spiced apples, and the best part... you can make this pie 2 weeks ahead of time and no one will even know! They will think you slaved away in the kitchen all day when actually all you did was pop it into the oven and let it bake. Whether you make this pie now or wait until Thanksgiving, just watch out for all the 'Make Ahead' tips I will be giving throughout this post.
I feel like I can see all that buttery flakiness just staring back at me. Pure amazingness.
Doesn't it just glimmer and shine?!?
For my GLUTEN FREE PIE CRUST RECIPE: you can click on a previous blog post of mine that details all the necessary steps at creating this unbelievable pie crust!!
As I mentioned, we went to an apple orchard for these apples and we had a fantastic time. I hadn't been apple picking in at least 10 years. September and October are always so busy for us and then to find a free weekend where the weather is not rainy, too windy, muddy fields from having rained so much... let's just say we got super lucky! The weather could not have been more perfect. Low 70s and partly sunny. For Germany, I am not complaining! We went to an apple orchard called Appel Happel in Mainz which is about 20-30 minutes away across the Rhein river.
In case you are in the area here is the link to the apple orchard:
It was super adorable and just the right size to walk around with little kiddos. Every aisle of apple trees were clearly labeled (also in English) and they did a great job of blocking off certain types of apples that were not ready to be picked.
We did pick some Gala apples, but just to eat as snacks. The apple we picked the most is the Boskoop apple which is perfect for baking. It is large and definitely sour, which means when mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon it is a taste explosion.
The apples were low enough for the littlest of kiddos to enjoy the fun! And who doesn't want to haul around a wheelbarrow?
Everything was really well organized and also in English.
When it comes to actually making your pie you need about 6-8 large apples. But that is really just an estimate. If you aren't sure, always use 1-2 more apples than what you think is enough. You want a towering apple pie with layers and layers of apples.
I had never used these Boskoop apples before, I always use Granny Smith apples from the grocery store. Once I got home I decided to weigh one Boskoop apple and compare it to one Granny Smith.
On the left you see one Granny Smith next to one Jazz apple (the red one with the sticker) and then all the rest are Boskoop. Boskoop, I learned, are from Holland. I had never heard of them before but are apparently really popular here. I just wanted to show a picture of the two apples I normally have at my house compared to the giant apples that we picked at the apple orchard. The Boskoop is almost double the weight!!! And I still used 6 of them.
Of course feel free to use any sort of baking apple, just make sure they are nice and sour.
My least favorite part comes next. The peeling and slicing. Get ready because this does take time. I like to do this step with my earbuds in and my audiobook playing because this type of work requires very little concentration.
Just make sure that you are slicing thin... and I mean thin!
Then afterwards I slice these big pieces in half.
You can either throw all these apples directing into a soup pot or into a mixing bowl. Out of habit I put them all into a mixing bowl, which was silly, because then I needed to transfer all the apples to my pot. Just another bowl to clean.
Don't worry if your apples start to brown while you are still slicing. You won't be able to tell once you get the apples cooking.
Now some recipes do not have you cook your apples before putting them into your rolled out pie dough. This is a mistake. Every time I have put uncooked, raw apples, directly into my pie and then baked, it would never set. The bottom crust was often soggy and the juice from the apples was thin and runny. This method of cooking your apples will ensure that your pie sets correctly.
Place all your apples, spices and lemon zest and lemon juice into the pot and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to a medium, cover the pot, and let it cook for a few minutes. When you cover the pot you will start to steam the apples and all that moisture will be kept in the pot giving you all that apple juicy goodness.
Your kitchen will start to smell amazing as the cinnamon and nutmeg start to infuse into the apple juice.
You can start to see the cooking process from beginning, middle to end. You don't want to overcook these apples. You still want a good crisp bite. Make sure not to cook longer than 8-10 minutes. Feel free to taste test as you cook.
This is just minutes into the cooking process and look at all that juice!
This was about a minute after the mixture was done cooking in the pot. You can see that some of the apples are a bit flimsy, but the majority still hold up their shape really well. Most importantly, the juices have thickened up so nicely because of the cornstarch slurry we added in the last minutes of cooking.
Now you really need to let this cool. Make sure to do this step at least an hour before assembling your pie. If you are rushed, stick the bowl (no cover) into the refrigerator and then once it has cooled to room temperature you can transfer it to the freezer. Just make sure to check it and stir it every so often.
DO NOT ADD WARM FILLING INTO YOUR PIE SHELL!!!
I did this once and it was a disaster. The pie filling wasn't even that warm. Just a little bit warmer than room temp. And you know what happened. My lattice topping was a disaster too. It kept melting and falling apart as I was trying to put it onto my pie. It is best to have a cool to cold filling before attempting a lattice pie topping.
Also make sure that your pie dough is super cold before you add anything to it.
If you would like my GLUTEN FREE PIE CRUST RECIPE you can click below. It is a previous blog post of mine that details all the steps needed to make a delicious, buttery and flaky pie crust.
Yes I know I put the link further up in my post... but just in case. Here it is again. It's the only pie dough recipe I will ever use.
Yes there are some wrinkles in there, but once you brush on the egg wash and sprinkle on the sugar, you can't see any of those imperfections!
Make Ahead Tips
At this stage you can cover the entire pie with plastic cling wrap and pop it into the freezer, UNBAKED and NO egg wash. The day before you want to serve your pie, just take it out of the freezer and stick it into the refrigerator to defrost. While your oven is preheating, stick the pie BACK into the freezer. The whole pie is cold but you want the top layer of pie dough to be REALLY cold. This will help it keep its shape while baking. Once the oven has preheated, brush on your egg wash. Sprinkle on your sugar. And that's it. Watch it bake to perfection.
What did I tell you? The egg wash and sugar are like magic wrinkle cream!
Now that we have a perfect apple pie we need the perfect salted caramel sauce to go on top. Guess what? Remember a while back when I made chocolate salted caramel brownie macarons? I just used the same caramel sauce recipe. Why should I reinvent the wheel when I already have something that works?
If you need step by step pictures with more tips on how to make the perfect caramel sauce, you can click on my previous post.
But don't worry, I have the salted caramel recipe below.
In case you just want to see a few glorious salted caramel pictures/videos... then look no further.
There you go. I think I could look at this luscious caramel all day.
Even better, you can keep it in your fridge for weeks! You don't even need to reheat it when you want to drizzle it on top of your apple pie. It comes out nice and thick.
This isn't a masterpiece of a video. First of all, I am pretty sure you can hear my dog, Bailey, panting in the background. My husband was making a sandwich for his lunch for the next day and our 13 year old golden retriever ALWAYS has to show he is right there... just in case we happen to have some extra lunch meat. Then, there are definitely weird shadows of me filming that I didn't notice until I had already eaten my pie. I waited until the kids were in bed and I sneaked myself a slice of pie. I sure did! No regrets!
BUT... just look at that drip! It is thick and creamy and this sauce is SO easy to make. Seriously I think I spent 10 minutes and that was it.
We were invited over to a friends house for one more end of the summer, beginning of fall, BBQ and without even being asked, I said I was making this dessert. This apple pie was devoured by young and old. And we were licking the caramel sauce off the plate.
I will definitely be making this recipe again for Thanksgiving.