Pie is a project. That ain’t no word of a lie. But this cowboy of a pie is worth it. I’ll be honest, I personally think all pie is worth it.
This pie is next level though. Tart, tangy granny smith apples, offset with subtle, smoky caramel and wrapped in a buttery, flaky pie crust, tuned up with a hit of salt. This is the pie you make when you’re asking for a huge favour. Or you’re just ready to while away some time in the kitchen.
I’ve heard Nigella Lawson say before that people always confuse time consuming with difficult. I know there are some people who really struggle with pie, but honestly, to me it’s the perfect example of something that’s not hard – it just takes time.
You’ll run in to trouble with pie if you try and rush it, if you don’t chill your dough, or let your caramel cool down, or preheat the oven properly (it takes 20-30 minutes, yo). That’s when pie becomes a nightmare – greasy dough, flopping and tearing all over the place, apple fillings that are disappointingly crisp, and a pie bottom that’s woefully undercooked.
If you chill out (and keep your butter chilled) then you will have a fine old time making this baby, and your pie will be delicious too. In fact, I think this rule applies to pretty much everything in the kitchen – keep a cool head, and things will turn out fine.
So if your pie dough is looking a little dry, add some more liquid. If it’s warming up, throw it into the freezer for a spell. If the caramel is looking a little blond, cook it longer. If your pie is browning too quickly, cover it with foil. Whatever you do, just keep it chilled (I mean that metaphorically in this instance).
That’s one of those handy kitchen lessons that applies to everything in life. It’s never helpful to lose your cool. But more importantly, I think, is the fact that when you make something and you take your time and enjoy the process the end results are always WAY better than if you freak out and rush.
The best thing about lessons learned in the kitchen, is that the reward is so deliciously tangible. Do a good job – get good pie! Now if only the rest of life were so cut and dried (cut and pied? Nope, never mind).
- 3 cups (450g) plain flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 sticks (225g) cold butter
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup (125ml) ice cold water
- ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp (30g) butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- ½ - 1 tsp salt
- 6 large or 8 small granny smith apples
- 2 lemons
- ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 egg, beaten
- First, make the pastry. Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Cut the butter into ½ inch (1cm) cubes, and add it to the flour. In a separate jug, stir together the water and vinegar.
- Work the butter into the flour, using the paddle attachment of your mixer on a low speed, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs with a few large, visible pieces of butter still remaining.
- With the mixer still on low, stream in the water a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture looks like it's about to come together. Use your hands to clump the dough into two halves, and then flatten them into discs and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge to chill.
- To make the caramel, place the sugar and water into a small, deep saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves, and then continue to cook the mixture until it turns amber (about 5-7 minutes).
- Remove the mix from the heat, and carefully add the butter, cream, and bourbon. Be careful, it will hiss and bubble up furiously. Add ½ tsp salt, and stir back over a low heat, until the mixture comes together smoothly. Set aside to cool (taste when it's cool and add more salt if you want it).
- Peel and core the apples and then slice them into thin pieces. Place the apples into a large mixing bowl, with the juice of both the lemons, and 2 tbsp of the sugar. Toss together, cover with a tea towel, and leave for 20-30 minutes.
- Drain the liquid from the apples and discard it. Toss over the remaining filling ingredients, until everything is well combined.
- To assemble the pie, roll out half the pastry on a well-floured surface, until it's about ⅛ inch thick, and is easily larger than your 9 inch pie dish. Fit the pastry into the dish, trimming the overhang of pastry, so there's about 2cm (1 inch) left.
- Layer half the apples tightly into the dish, and then pour over half the cooled caramel. Pack in the remaining apples, mounding them in the centre, and pour over the remaining caramel.
- Roll out the remaining piece of pastry (you can cut it into a lattice if you want) and cover the top of the pie. Trim the edges, roll them into them up to form an edge, and crimp the edge, and brush the pie with beaten egg.
- Chill the pie for 20 minutes, while you pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F. Bake the pie on a lined baking sheet (it will probably bubble over) for 20-25 minutes, and then turn down the oven to 180C/350F and bake for a further 35-40 minutes or until dark golden brown and the apples are tender with tested with a knife. Leave to cool for AT LEAST 2 hours, before serving.