Welcome the fall season with sweet and flaky slab pie
Most of us have spent the past few weeks soaking up every last drop of summer, but October is the month in which we finally, and gratefully, embrace the fall.
Soft sunlight and cool(er) breezes subtly mark the start of the season, but perhaps it’s our appetites’ ache for warm, comforting flavors that is the unmistakable signal fall has arrived.
Homemade apple pie answers that craving with a promise of flaky, buttery goodness surrounding a filling of sweet, seasonal apples kissed by cinnamon.
This month, let your 9-inch round pie dishes rest on the shelf. Slab pie is baked in an 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pan and generously serves a crowd, making it a hands-down favorite for family-style gatherings. It also delivers more flaky, buttery crust per bite than a traditional round double-crusted pie thanks to its higher crust-to-filling ratio. Welcome home fall.
All about apples
While Granny Smith apples generally reign as the go-to baking apple, other varieties have proved their ability to hold up under heat and provide a balanced sweet-tart flavor. Honeycrisp remain firm when baked or caramelized thanks to the fruit’s exceedingly crisp texture. Crispin, alias Mutsu, is a firm, less tart choice reminiscent in flavor to a Golden Delicious. Try them in pies or other recipes that involve gentle cooking. Pink Lady also strikes a balance between sweet and tart. They are known for retaining a distinct shape in baked sweets like muffins.
Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie
For the crust, you’ll need to make two, separate batches of the following:
2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
For the filling:
6 pounds of apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
3 tablespoons cinnamon
¾ cup bourbon
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter to the bowl, toss to coat, and, using a pastry blender, quickly cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of small peas.
Combine the water, vinegar and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour-butter mixture, and continue cutting and mixing it with a spatula or bench scraper until it is fully incorporated.
Add more of the ice water mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, to the dough and using the bench scraper or your hands continue mixing until it comes together in a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight. The dough can be made up to three days in advance.
To make the filling, melt the butter over medium low heat in a very large pot. Stir in the sugar, salt and cinnamon and allow the mixture to come to a slow, steady boil. Watch the pot closely and stir often to prevent the sugar from burning. Continue cooking it for about 10 minutes. Carefully add the bourbon and whisk to incorporate the alcohol. Cook the mixture for another 10 minutes over medium low heat. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Line a 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator and leave it out for 5-10 minutes before preparing the crust. Place the dough in the center of the work surface and using a rolling pin, begin rolling dough away from you in one even stroke. Rotate the dough a quarter turn counterclockwise and roll again. Continue rolling the dough into a 16-by-20-inch rectangle. Transfer it to the pan allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill and remove the remaining dough disc. Roll out the dough in the same fashion creating a 12-by-17-inch rectangle. Place this dough on top of the bottom crust and allow it to chill while you prepare the filling.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Add the apples to the pot containing the warm caramel sauce and gently stir until all of the apples are coated. Take the pan from the refrigerator and remove the top crust. Pour the apples over the bottom pie crust and spread them into an even layer. Position the top crust over the filling. Roll and pinch the excess crust inward to create an edge all the way around the pan. Crimp and seal the edge as desired. Using a sharp paring knife, cut vents in the upper crust so steam can escape while the pie is cooking. Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Place the pie on the lowest oven rack and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is beginning to brown. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue baking until the crust is a deep, golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 30-35 minutes. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least one hour. Serve warm.