Apple Free Form Pie and Salted Caramel
As I rebuild this recipe blog, it seems the recipes that are making it up first are those being requested.
Today, a good friend shared that her daughter has been bitten by the baking bug, and looking for easy recipes, including a pie recipe. As someone that was bitten by the same bug as a kid, I wanted to contribute!
Looking for kid-friendly, written, pie recipes are hard because pies can be tricky. As pie makers know, you have to get the dough properly made with ice cold butter, just enough water--not too much. It's got to be chilled and rested, and rolled out to the proper thickness and then laid out evenly in the baking dish so the crust is even. You have to do various tricks with the crust and fillings so that you don't get a soggy crust as a result of overly wet fillings. And, then there's the decision about what to do about the top crust--do you do a normal top crust with holes, or do you get fancy with cut outs? Do you do a lattice top?
Well, when I want the combination of buttery crust and warm sweet fruit, and no fuss and 100% success every time, my go-to recipe is that of a free form pie.
In France, they call this rustic pie a galette, and in Italy, they call it a crostata.
To me, this is just a free form pie that doesn't care if you mess it up. It's almost like the more imperfect it is, the better it tastes!
Trust me: this free form pie is easy to make and even easier to fall in love with!
And if you wanna be extra decadent: drizzle it with salted caramel sauce. (recipe at the bottom!)
Chrysta's Free Form Apple Pie
Step 1: Make the Crust
Ingredients for 1 crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup (1 stick or 4 oz) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
3-5 tbsp ice water
1. Cut Butter and Freeze: Cut up a stick of butter into smallish (about 1/2-inch) cubes, and put it into the freezer. The colder the butter the better luck you'll have with creating a flaky crust. Freeze the butter at least 15 minutes, better an hour, best overnight.
2. Blend the Dough:
You have two options for making the dough. Use a food processor or do it by hand. I'm giving you directions for both methods below:
With a Food Processor: Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas. Remove ice from water. Add a couple of tablespoons of ice cold water to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If not, add a little more water and pulse again. Try to keep the water to a minimum. Too much water will make your crust tough. By Hand: Place flour, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and begin to mash using a pastry blender (or two forks). Mash butter until dough is crumbly, with bits of butter visibly in the batter. Add water 2 tbsp at a time, or until dough resembles coarse meal. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready.
3. Remove the crumbly dough mixture (from the food processor or bowl) and place it on a very clean, smooth surface. Then, use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape it into a disc. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough. You should be able to see little bits of butter speckled in the dough. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
4. When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place it on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take just enough of a chill off of it so that it becomes easier to roll out. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour underneath if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your surface.
Step 2: Assemble the Galette/Crostata
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flour
1. Thinly slice 3 apples (granny smith, pink lady, golden delicious).
2. Toss apples in 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp of flour.
3. Take your freshly rolled out crust and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Spread apples into the center of pastry dough and spread outward to 1.5” inches of the edge of the dough.
5. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border/crust.
6. Brush crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
7. Take 1 tbsp of butter and break up into “dots”: sprinkle on top of the apples.
8. Brush the top of the crust with “egg wash” (1 egg and 1 tbsp of water, whisk together). Sprinkle with turbinado sugar (or large crystals of sugar) if you’re feeling fancy.
9. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting so the juices can set up.
Chrysta’s EASY Salted Caramel Sauce
Why I LOVE this recipe: no need for thermometers or special equipment.
· 1/2 Cup granulated white sugar
· 1 C cups heavy cream, warmed in the microwave to about 170 degrees (hot to the touch, but not boiling)
· 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon. (do this at the end, to your taste, and you can use regular kosher salt, too!)
· 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
(1) Pour sugar into the bottom of a skillet. *Chef's Note: I prefer non-stick skillet for the easy cleanup.
(2) Heat sugar over medium heat, stirring sugar just until it starts to melt.
(3) When the sugar begins to melt and turn amber, simply swirl the sugar until all sugar is dissolved.
(4)While sugar is melting, warm heavy cream until it is hot to the touch, about the temperature of a piping hot cup of coffee.*Chefs Note: heating the cream makes it easier to incorporate into the hot caramel. Cold cream will cause the boiling hot caramel mixture to seize.
(5) Once the sugar is all dissolved, removed from heat and slowly add in the warm cream. *Chefs Note: The mixture will bubble, but will calm down as you continue to whisk in the cream.
(6) Add sea salt and whisk until dissolved.
(7) Use immediately, or cool in a container.
To store: cover and refrigerate. Use within 2 weeks.