One of my earliest childhood memories was baking apple pie with my Nanny. But it wasn’t just about learning her baking secrets (like a splash of OJ in the crust), it was the passing-down of a family recipe without anything written down, just the experience of baking together, grandmother to granddaughter. Today, every time I bake a pie, I think of her. I’m an experimenter in the kitchen, so my latest creation involves adding homemade caramel to my apple pie. And if you’re wondering, my Nanny would not approve! But, she’d applaud the effort and I know after one bite, she’d agree it’s delicious.
Baking with apples: In New Jersey alone, there are 30 different varieties of apples, all in season right now. While everyone has an opinion of which apple’s best for baking, if they’re fresh off the tree, that’s what you want. Most apple orchards will let you pick the apples for a fun family excursion (many come with a free hayride to get to the trees). But, if you just want the apples, they’re usually sold ready to go at the orchards for a quick pit stop.
Using raw sugar: Raw sugar naturally contains molasses, which gives the sugar a richer depth of flavor. It’s a perfect complement to caramel and apples as in this caramel apple pie. You can find raw sugar right next to the white stuff in your grocery store.
The bubble-done method: Has this happened to you? your pie is in the oven, and after 15 minutes, it looks done, but is it done? While the top may be golden brown and pie-contest gorgeous, it takes the apples a good hour to cook and the bottom crust even longer. After decades of pie baking, I rely on the bubble method: after an hour in the oven, the filling will begin bubbling up through the crust, which means it’s perfectly done. Works every time.
- 2 ½ cups four
- 2 teaspoons raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut up
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
- Cream to brush on unbaked crust
- 3 ½-4 pounds apples (about 8)
- ¼ cup raw sugar + more for sprinkling
- Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup caramel sauce (recipe below)
Please allow 30 minutes to chill pie crust.