Friday, September 10, 2010

Autumn Apple Pie with Warm Cinnamon Sauce

I love everything about apple season. Apples are so perfect, so classic. And they never fail to remind me of childhood. I was born and raised in Michigan and, to me, fresh apples just seem like the distilled essence of a Michigan autumn--evocative in the nicest way.

In fact, if I were taking a word-association test and had to respond to the word "fruit," I'm quite sure I'd  blurt out "apple!" without missing a beat. They have such perennial appeal, and they're naturally portable. It's as if each one comes in its own protective little suitcase, making it travel-friendly. It wants to go where you go.

While not a single leaf in these parts has yet turned golden nor burnished red, and neighborhood school-kids have barely had time to crack open their textbooks or sharpen new pencils, I needed to make an apple pie. Not a grand model of complexity, mind you. Just a great hearty pie, served along with a warm, gently spicy, cinnamon sauce. What could be better than that?

About this recipe . . .

This isn't a complicated pie to put together, and it doesn't require a lot of time--both are factors in its favor. The crust, in my experience, is just about foolproof and, as it bakes, turns the loveliest color. The filling is neither time consuming nor does it require any exotic ingredients.

A wedge of this pie is completely satisfying on its own--no question about it. But drape it with a spoonful of the buttery cinnamon sauce and it takes on an added dimension that sets it apart. Really, really good pie!

I borrowed from a couple sources in making this pie. The crust recipe is from Apple Pie Perfect, by Ken Haedrich, and the filling recipe was inspired by one in Carole Walter's book Great Pies & Tarts. I could spend hours (and come to think of it I guess I have!) immersed in Walter's many cookbooks. They're amazing.

The sauce was just something I experimented with after looking at the directions for basic sweet sauces in a number of places; it's elementary and is one of those things, kind of like ganache, that hardly seems to require a formal recipe.

Autumn Apple Pie with Warm Cinnamon Sauce

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Ingredients for the crust:
3 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt (I used kosher)
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into chunks
1/2 cup very cold water

To make the crust:
In the large bowl of a food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse several times to mix. Take off the lid and toss in the butter chunks. Pulse again, about 6 times, to cut the butter in. Again remove the lid and, using a fork, fluff up the mixture, scraping down to the bottom of the bowl. Toss in the shortening cubes and pulse about 6 times, then take off the lid, scrape the bottom, and fluff again with a fork.

Drizzle only about half of the cold water in and pulse 6 times. Fluff the dough again with a fork, then sprinkle in the remainder of the water. Pulse a few more times, until the dough begins to clump together. Dump it out into a clean mixing bowl.

Test the texture of the dough by squeezing a bit of it in your hand. If it's too dry and won't hold together, sprinkle in a tiny bit more water, one teaspoon at a time, working it in gently with your fingers. When the dough holds together, divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other, shape each into a ball, and flatten the balls into disks about 1" thick. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill them in the fridge for about an hour or so. While the dough is chilling, make the apple filling.

(*If you'd prefer to make the dough entirely by hand, use a pastry blender and a large mixing bowl to combine the ingredients, following the same general steps above in the same order. After you've cut in the butter, the dough should be in bits about the size of split peas. After you've cut in the shortening, the dough should be in smaller bits, perhaps the size of coarse cornmeal.)

Ingredients for the apple filling:

Approximately 7 to 9 large apples (I used some Granny Smiths, and a few nice Honey Crisps, but you should use any nice, firm, baking apples that you prefer. I've also had great luck in the past with really fresh Gala apples. I believe this is a good pie to experiment with, in this regard. I used probably 9 apples and my pie was piled high!)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 light brown sugar (not firmly packed)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or a little more if you adore the stuff! I adore it . . .)
1/8 tsp. ground, or a few scrapings of grated whole, nutmeg (I used grated; use with discretion--this stuff's powerful!)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

To make the filling:
Peel apples and cut into 1/4 inch slices, dropping them into a large mixing bowl. Toss the pieces with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Don't add this to the fruit yet-- just set it aside.

* * * * 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Brush the inside of a 9" pie plate with a light coating of soft unsalted butter. Remove just the larger ball of dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Roll the dough into a 13" circle and place it carefully into the pie plate; try not to stretch it in the process. Trim the edge so you have an overhang of up to one inch.

Ingredients for egg wash (to brush on inside of pie shell and on top of top-crust before baking):
white only from one large egg
1 tsp. water

To make the egg wash:
Whisk the egg white and water together with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom, sides, and edge of the raw pie shell lightly with the mixture.

* * * *

Now, pour the sugar mixture into the apples and stir to coat the pieces.

Shovel your apples into your pie shell, mounding them high in the center. Dot the fruit with bits of the 1 Tbsp. of butter.

* * * * 

Roll out the second disk of dough into a 13" circle and place it over the fruit. Trim the edge of the dough, and seal the edges together by crimping it closed with your fingers or with the tines of a fork, as you prefer. Cut a few small vents in the top crust to release steam. Gently brush the top crust with more of the egg wash, and then sprinkle the crust with a few pinches of plain granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar.

To keep the edges of the pie from burning in the oven, cover them with foil shaped to fit. (My trick is to take a square of foil about 13" x 13",  fold it into quarters into a smaller square, then I cut a large wedge shape out of the inner section. If done right, when I unfold it I end up with a nice round hole in  the middle of a  border of  foil that can be placed atop my crust and gently secured on the outer edges so it won't shift around. I find this is quicker and much less cumbersome than trying to shape random strips of foil around the edge of a pie.)

Place the pie in the oven. About 20 minutes into baking, place a baking sheet beneath; this will help prevent the bottom from burning. Check the pie again periodically; if the top crust appears to be browning quickly, lightly place a sheet of foil atop it and leave it there until the pie is done. Peek also at the edges of the pie to check if they're browning; if they're not, remove the foil border about ten minutes towards the end of the baking time.

Depending in part upon the type of apples you used, your pie may take 40 to 55 minutes. There should be bubbling evident through the vents, and the pie should be golden all over before you decide it's done. If you like softer fruit, plan to bake the pie on the longer side.

Let the pie cool on a rack for at least three hours before cutting.  Make the cinnamon sauce while you're waiting.

Ingredients for the cinnamon sauce:
1 and 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water

Dissolve the cornstarch with the 1 Tbsp. of water in a very small bowl. Stir until it's smooth.

In a small sauce pan, combine the 1 and 1/2 cups water, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a low boil, then turn the fire down and let it simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Stir a couple spoonfuls of this hot mixture into the cornstarch mixture to temper it; then pour this back into the sauce pan and stir continually on low heat until the sauce thickens. Strain the sauce into a bowl to remove any lumps. Serve it warm, spooned over slices of the baked apple pie.

*If you like this recipe, but you want to guarantee that there's not a lot of juice in the baked pie, I recommend you check out this apple pie post I did last year. It's a more involved and time consuming process (you precook the fruit for a while, etc.) but it produces a truly exceptional pie.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Jennifurla said...

OH MY - please send me that sauce

Susi said...

Jane, I adore apple pie and the fall season! Classic apple desserts are the best and your cinnamon sauce looks to die for! Now you have me craving apple pie for the rest of the day :o)

Danielle said...

Yum.. i think that's the best apple pie i've ever seen! The sauce makes it perfect.

Jane said...

Hi Jennifurla,
Ok, it's on the way!
;) Jane

Hi Susi,
I just saw the recipe you posted on your blog this Wednesday for apple pie bars! We must be on the same wavelength! :) Well, it's that time of year alright and I seem to be craving cinnamon a lot lately--cinnamon rolls, cinnamon coffee cake, cinnamon sauce on pie--what's next??!

Hello Danielle,
Thank you so much! What a sweet thing to say!
Keep on baking,

scrambledhenfruit said...

Gorgeous pie! And the!

Paula said...

Apple pie is one of my favourite pies and I usually have it with cheddar cheese on the side. I think you may have just converted me. Your pie and sauce look amazing!

June in Ireland said...

I can almost smell how gorgeous and delicious this beautiful pie is from the photos...oh, and that cinnamon sauce! I usually have a slice either plain or with a dollop of ice cream, but next time I bake one, I will definitely have a go at making some of his wonderful sauce. I have always adored both apple and pumpkin pie - beyond comfort food, they both remind me of autumn, my favourite season of the year. Thanks for sharing this, Jane.

The Urban Baker said...

jane, it sure does feel like autumn. this pie is confirmation that a new season is upon us! yummy!

Katie said...

Oh yum! That looks fantastic. You've combined two of my favourite flavours and you can never have too much cinnamon in my opinion. I want a slice!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love apple pie. Oh my. Buuuut I've never had it with caramel sauce before!! This looks amazing!

Lucy said...

Oh, I want this for breakfast!

Jessica said...

Beautiful pie! I love the uniform color of your crust. Yum! I also like the cinnamon sauce idea...

Marcellina said...

Apple pie is a winner what ever the season! Yours looks delicous!

Becky said...

Your apple pie also looks pretty great!

LDH said...

This is most definitely a perfectly delicious looking pie! A must try!

Kindly, ldh

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Hi there! I'm so excited that I've found your blog; you have the most amazing recipes. This pie with cinnamon sauce is stuff I'd dream about. Plus, your writing tone is eloquent and your images are a delight to look at. So thank you! I'm definitely following your culinary creations from now on :)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Ps. Just read that you used to work in wonder you write in such a lovely way.

Alejandra Ramos said...

That sauce looks absolutely spectacular! I want to make a big pot of it and drizzle it on everything!

Hanaâ said...

I have that book but have never baked from it. Your pictures have convinced to do so ASAP. Your apple pie looks wonderful and the cinnamon sauce... wow! I also love how you did your edges :o) very pretty!

Jane said...

Hi Scrambled-
Nice of you! Thanks so much!
:) Jane

Hello Paula,
Yes, that apple & cheddar flavor combo is a classic. I remember my mom and dad eating a little wedge of cheese with apple pie when I was a kid and, of course, I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole back then. Now, though, I understand the appeal! :)
Thanks very much,

Hi June,
You and me both! I don't think I've ever made a sauce like this specifically for a pie before, but I really like how it complemented the pie in every way. I'm glad to hear apple pie is being consumed, and enjoyed, in Ireland too! ;)

Hi Urban Baker,
Yes, fall's surely upon us!
Thanks so much for visiting,
Jane :)

Hi Katie==
Me too. I am so crazy about cinnamon. I don't know if it's the time of year or what, but I am really attracted to recipes containing it right now. I made some cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago they turned out so great I think that must have started me on this path! It must be addictive. ;)
Keep on baking,

Hello WarmVanillaSugar,
Thank you so much! Yeah, I think it's the sauce that really cranks it up a notch! :)

Hi Lucy,
Me too. And for lunch, and for dinner, and for a snack . . . ha! :)

Hi there Jessica,
Thanks! Yes--the crust! I really was pleased with the way the crust colored up so nicely and so evenly. I've made many pies in my day that didn't look anywhere near as nice, so I'm always thrilled when one turns out to be really pretty.

Hello Marcellina,
Thanks so much! It is sort of seasonless, isn't it? You're right!
:) Jane

Hi Becky,
Thanks very much!

Hello LDH,
Glad you think so! Thanks so much for visiting!

Dear Les Reves . . .
What sweet and flattering comments! Thank you so very much. I visited your blog and I can hardly believe how young you are! It's just amazing. You must be a baking prodigy! I look forward to visiting again frequently.
Jane :)

Hi Alejandra,
Thanks so much for stopping by! I love popping in on Always Order Dessert and I love telling people about it. Each post is smart, funny, and unique. I think it's a beautiful blog.

Hi Hanaa--
Thanks, lady! I'm tellin' ya, those Carole Walter books are just dangerous. I want to bake almost every single recipe in them. That woman must be a dynamo. :)
Keep on baking,

Mags said...

I'm loving that warm cinnamon sauce drizzled over that pie!

My Casa Bella said...

I have been craving Apple Pie too, and I have a WONDERFUL recipe that I found which took years to find that right one for me. The local Farmers here have a wonderful stand and they have apples now, So I will get some TODAY! you are an inspiration, Jane.
PS Your pie looks gorgeous and delicious.

Ed Hochhalter said...

Cinnamon has been my favorite spice that is added to all the pastries I've tried so far, due to the aroma it brings and how it improves the experience of eating them. Now, when added to apple pie, you are going to have a perfect harmony of flavors.

Silv said...

Bless you!! Just found your recipe and can't wait to make this, especially the cinnamon sauce. As a kid growing up in the 70s, one of my favorite memories is walking with my younger sister to the neighborhood Wag's diner (this was a part of the Walgreen's drug store chain back then). We'd get hot chocolate or milk and a slice of warm apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and cinnamon sauce over it. The diners are gone, but it occurred to me while telling my son this story that Google is my best friend, and might be able to help me track the recipe down. :)

Jane said...

Dear Silv,
Wow, what a wonderful memory! I have never heard of Wag's Diner, but I am going to Google it just for fun. So you'd order your pie with cheddar cheese AND with cinnamon sauce?? That sounds like a very interesting combo! :) I'd love to hear what you think if you do make this pie recipe from my post. Thanks so much for your comment, and happy baking!

Rachel Berg said...

Thank you so much. Your pie looks yummy. Going to try make your cinnamon souce recipe.

Jane said...

Hi Rachel,
Thanks so much for visiting and for letting me know you're going to try this sauce. I really hope you like it!
Happy baking,
Jane :)