Our local farmer’s market had beautiful, big Rome apples recently. My favorite apples for pie are, in this order: Stayman Winesap, Stayman and Rome. Staymans are hard to find, and Winesaps are almost nonexistent in New Bern, so Rome is my go-to apple for pies. They become slightly more tangy when baked and hold their shape well.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Linda Hundt, a multiple prize winner in the Crisco National Pie Contest. Linda now has her own pie/pastry shop in Michigan where people line up for her pies. When I read the recipe for her “Grandma Ferrell’s Caramel Apple Pie,” I was put off by the amount of sugar used – 2 cups in the pie and topping plus caramel sauce. Whew! No way could I eat that. Linda also thickens the apples with flour. I decided to use the parts of her recipe that I liked and change or discard the rest. That meant adding some whole grains, reducing sugar and replacing some with apple juice concentrate, adding some apple jack brandy and 1 dropper of liquid Vanilla stevia, and most importantly, precooking and cooling the apples before baking.
Precooking apples takes a little more time, but it eliminates the need for a thickener, because all the juices flow out of the apples when cooked. As they continue to cook, some of the apple juices are absorbed back into the apples, intensifying the apple flavor. It makes for a really good pie. Instead of making Linda’s homemade caramel sauce, I opted to open a jar of Smucker’s Special Recipe Butterscotch Caramel Sauce. Because the apples in the filling are not overly sweet, the very sweet crumb topping does not overpower the apples, and a bit of caramel sauce really takes the pie over the top.
A crispy, crunchy, sweet crumb topping over slightly sweet and tangy apple filling, topped with rich and sweet caramel sauce -- this pie is a winner, and one that I would gladly make again.
|Caramel Apple Crumb Pie |
Inspired by Grandma Ferrell’s Caramel Apple Pie
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
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1 (9”) deep dish pie crust, homemade or store-bought
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned (5-minute) oats
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, soft
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand or with a pastry blender until crumbly. Set aside.
5 large Rome apples, peeled, cored, quartered, cut into wedges
1-1/4 cups frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. apple brandy
1 dropper liquid Vanilla stevia (or other liquid sweetener equal to about 1 tsp. of sugar + 1/4 tsp. vanilla)
Smucker’s Special Recipe Butterscotch Caramel Sauce, or other caramel sauce of choice
Heat oven to 400F. Combine filling ingredients in 9x12 or larger baking pan. Bake 25-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or till apples are barely tender. Transfer cooked apples to a sheet pan to cool. Return pan with juices to oven and bake till light syrup forms. (Time will depend on how juicy your apples were.) Alternately, you can cook the apples in a large skillet, removing apple wedges as they become tender and cooking the liquid to a syrup. Either way, scrape the syrup over the cooling apples and toss to combine. Cool completely, at least one hour, then spoon filling into crust.
Do not put crumb topping on at this time. Bake pie in lower part of oven 30 minutes.
Transfer to counter and spoon crumb topping over pie. Return to oven and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes, or till pie bubbles.
If crumb topping browns too quickly, loosely tent aluminum foil over pie. Cool pie on wire rack for several hours before slicing. Serve with a large spoonful of warm caramel sauce.