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How to Turn Apple Cider into Pie

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We're teaming up with Squarespace to get to know a few of our favorite bloggers a little bit better. And since it's Pie Week, that means we're getting to know them through pie. (Bonus: We're giving away a PieBox Gift Set and a yearlong Squarespace subscription! See below for details.)

Today: Erin McDowell, Food52's resident pie maven, has developed a brilliant way to turn cider into caramel -- which makes for the perfect tart, buttery apple pie.

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I make (and eat) a lot of apple pie. Sometimes, I make a smooth, almost apple butter-like filling. Other times, I like to use a crisp apple to give texture when the fork hits the fruit. Recently, I began mulling over what could combine everything I love about apple pie into one pie. I thought about how to make a pie with a bright, intensely apple flavor and no added sugar. I decided to make a cider caramel as the base; I first created the recipe to enter a Food52 contest many moons ago (drizzled over an apple upside-down cake), and went nuts for the stuff. 

This filling is tart, but with a rich creaminess to it, because it's finished with butter. It's sweet, but not overly so. I used Honeycrisp apples, which hold up very well in baking, resulting in a filling that's tender, but still has a little bite. In the end, I decided to add a little brown sugar to the mix (it balances things out in a really yummy way), but I can attest wholeheartedly that this recipe works without it—if you like things a little less sweet, leave it out! 

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More: It's time to get over your fear of pie crust. Erin is here to help you do that.

The finished pie really has everything: a bright, intensely apple flavor; a hint of sweetness that has that characteristic caramel flavor; a little bit of salt to tie it all together; and (of course) a tender, flaky crust encasing the whole thing. In my mind, any pie is a good pie, but this...this is a really good pie. It's definitely going to be the official apple pie at my Thanksgiving table this year, and for many years to come. 

Cider Caramel Apple Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 quart apple cider
4 tablespoons softened butter
Hefty pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 large Honeycrisp apples (or other good baking apples), peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch cinnamon
Your favorite double-crust pie dough (this is my favorite)
Egg wash
Turbinado sugar

See full recipe (and print and save it) here.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

This article was brought to you by Squarespace! Use code FOOD52 to get 10% off, and share your favorite pies on Pinterest to win a yearlong subscription to Squarespace and a PieBox Gift Set


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Tags: holiday, baking, pie week, pie, dessert, thanksgiving, apples, fall, winter, the best apple pie in all the land, cider, caramel