Monday, October 17, 2011

People's Choice (Caramel Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel Topping)

This recipe is a labor of love. I say that because it has come about over several years of trying, testing, tweaking, and changing. This is one of those rare recipes that I feel like I can say is mine. This is the first time I have written it down, usually I just make it from my head.
We like apple pie. We like streusel topping, and we like caramel. So, naturally, this pie would become a favorite. It is for people like me, who just aren't crazy about fruit pies. The apples are not too soggy, not to crisp; the short, buttery crust is plentiful; the walnut streusel topping helps those of us who are not super confident about pie crust make something anyway. And the caramel sauce. You don't need it because the brown sugar and butter give the illusion of caramel, but if you are like me, and you just like to take things way, way, way over the top, drizzle some on top when you are done. Then pass it around with spoons or in a squeeze bottle for lucky souls to pour on top of their fresh-from-the-oven pie crowned with melting vanilla bean ice cream.
This is another recipe for the archives. You won't make an apple pie every day, but when you do, you want it to be worth the effort. This is. This is the pie you can take to your mother-in-law's on Thanksgiving, or make it in a baking dish and take it to the office pot luck. It will be welcome, you will be applauded. And its pretty darn easy. But don't tell them that. Just smile and slip into the role of domestic goddess.

Caramel Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel Topping

Pie crust
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar (omit for savory crust)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 Tablespoons (or more)  ice water

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter, using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 Tablespoons water. Using on/off turns, blend just until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; divide dough in half. Flatten each piece into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Apple filling

9 apples
1Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 stick butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour

Walnut Streusel Topping

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

The way I usually make this recipe is I start the crust early in the day or even a day or two before. I put it into the fridge until I am going to use it. Also, if I know I am going to make an apple pie, I usually divide the dough unevenly. I put about 2/3 of the crust aside for the bottom, and the remaining 1/3 aside for cutting out decorative leaves and things for the top.
Then, I make the walnut streusel topping. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process in on/off turns until the walnuts are broken down and in very small pieces. Set aside.
Peel apples and cut each half into three slices. Cut out the center core. Place apple slices in a row and cut into three or four chunks. Place into large pot. Repeat with remaining apples. Add the pumpkin pie spice, butter, brown sugar, and flour. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until apples are just tender.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Roll out your larger pie crust and place in the bottom of your baking dish. Pour in apple filling, then top with the streusel. Use the other pie crust if you wish to decorate the top with cut out leaves, etc.
Brush any decorative pie crust pieces with a mixture of egg and water (1 egg, 2 Tbsp water). Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until crust is a deep gold color.

If  you desire, which you will, top with caramel sauce.


  1. Do you have any recommendations on the kind of apples that work best in this recipe?

  2. I usually use whatever I have on hand, which tends to be sweet-crisp apples like gala, jazz, honeycrisp, pink lady, or something similar.

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