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 residentpiemaven, 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!
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.
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
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, came out on November 10th, 2020, and my pie merch collaboration with Food52 is out now too: https://food52.com/shop/merchants/manifest-food52/food52-x-erin-mcdowell