I craved caramel with the tart Granny Smith apples -- so I chose a classic apple pie recipe from The Joy of Baking, that included two additional and simple steps to develop a caramel sauce. Macerating the apples in sugar and salt in the first few steps produced a juice, that when combined with butter over low heat, turned into a light caramel syrup. The sauce added richness and depth to the apples, it also helped bind the filling to make for a neat slice.
Recipe from: http://www.joyofbaking.com/ApplePie.html
Notes: I was ambitious with the first pie, creating a lattice top and braided edge -- unfortunately, I had too large of a gap between my lattice pieces which lead to the top layers of apples and caramel sauce drying out. My second attempt, with a fully covered top with vents, turned out markedly better. It was moist, so the tender apples clung to the buttery pie crust and it sliced perfectly.
READ MORE: THE SHARED PIE
2 1/2 pounds apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used half HoneyCrisp and half Granny Smith)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
Pastry for double-crust pie, 9-inches (This is my go-to recipe: http://www.joyofbaking.com/PieCrust.html)
In a large bowl combine the sliced apples with the sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to three hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have about 1/2 cup of juice. Put reserved juice into small pot with butter, reduce for 6-9 minutes at a medium temperature until syrupy and caramelized.
Meanwhile, remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften. Transfer the drained apples slices to a large bowl and mix them with the cornstarch. Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five- 2-inch slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the stone (or pan) to catch any apple juices. Set the pie on the stone or pan and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Makes one 9 inch pie. Recipe doubled to yield two pies.