I love apple pie, cider and caramel together so I thought I'd try them in a pie. After a few messy but delicious attempts, I finally got a pie that where the apple flavor shines without being too sweet. I've made it with pecans for crunch, and tried sea salt too. Now I make it for every holiday with variations in spices (cardamom is good) and it's a family favorite. —Leith Devine
frozen butter, cut in small cubes or grated on a grater
To make pie crust: Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and add the frozen butter chunks bit by bit, pulsing until the butter is in tiny pieces and the mixture looks like gravel.
Remove from food processor and add ice water. Start with 2 TB and mix with the tips of your fingers. Add ice water until a ball forms. Refrigerate crust for 2 hours.
Put apple cider into a deep saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and reduce to approximately 1/2 cup. Cider will be thick. Set aside to cool.
Peel and slice apples and place into a bowl with flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine. Add cider when cooled; mix thoroughly.
To make caramel, add 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a non-stick saucepan. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and cook, still stirring, on low heat until sugar bubbles and starts to get brown. Be careful not to burn the caramel! It's done when it looks golden brown, 10-15 minutes. It will be VERY hot, so set aside to cool slightly - don't let it harden. If it hardens, cook very gently on low heat until caramel soft again.
Remove pie crust from refrigerator and divide in half. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick spray. Roll out a slightly larger circle for 9 inch pie plate and place into plate; any excess can hang over the edge until the top crust goes on. Put remaining pie crust in the refrigerator.
Add the apple mixture to pie plate and drizzle with the cooled caramel. Add sea salt or pecans if desired. I highly recommend both. Sprinkle on top of the caramel.
Roll out remaining crust to make top crust. Carefully drape on top of apples. Seal the top crust to the bottom thoroughly so the juices don't leak out. Cut off any excess crust. Cut 4 vents in the top of the pie with a knife. Brush the top with milk, and sprinkle with 2 TB sugar if desired.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. For your own sanity ( and a cleaner oven) in case of leaks, put down foil on a large pan, then put down a silpat.
Place pie on silpat and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook until apples are tender and top is brown, approximately 45 minutes. If the crust starts to burn, tent with foil.
Remove pie from oven and cool before cutting so pie can firm up.
Serve with whipped cream or my favorite, vanilla ice cream.