August 8, 2017

Apple Pie Variations You Should Try

Post by Tomas

A good, old-fashioned apple pie is a traditional favorite for a lot of people. The sweet flavor of apple and cinnamon wrapped in a golden brown crust is hard to top. It’s often linked with memories of good times and family. But just because it’s traditional doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to tweak. There have been plenty of variations on the venerable recipe that ensure that this classic dessert doesn’t get old.

If you love pies and baking dessert treats, here are some interesting apple pie variations that you should try.

Baked Apple Pie Apples | Makes 4

The innovative part of this recipe is that, instead of using a pie crust to contain all the sweet goodness of the apple pie filling, it uses cored apples. Ingenious and a fun way of serving this dessert treat to guests.

It does use a traditional dough recipe, just because it’s superior to store bought ones. It’s more buttery and flaky. Feel free to substitute with store bought dough if you’re pressed for time.

Ingredients:

Pastry Dough:

  • 1 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5/8 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • ¼ cup ice water

Apple Filling:

  • 5 large apples (recommended: Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Directions:

Step 1: Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add in the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the fats flour and salt until you have a coarse mixture with pea-sized bits.

Step 2: Drizzle in ice water one tablespoon at a time. Stir the mixture after every spoonful of water. Once the dough begins forming large clumps, you can stop adding water. It must not be overly sticky and you don’t need to use all of the water.

Step 3: Flour a work surface and transfer the dough onto it. Using floured hands, work the dough until the fats are fully incorporated. Wrap tightly in plastic and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours. You can prepare the dough ahead of time or use store-bought pie dough.

Step 4: In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and warm water. Once the cornstarch is dissolved and you have a smooth mixture, you can set this aside. Peel and dice one of the apples. In a medium saucepan, combine the diced apples, cornstarch mixture, cinnamon, and sugar. Place over medium heat and cook while stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla. Let this cool down for 20 minutes.

Step 5: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once again, flour your work surface. Roll out the pie dough until you have a rough disk around 10 inches in diameter. Cut into quarters, and then cut the quarters into strips about ¼ inch wide. You can put the strips back into the fridge to chill since cold pie dough make for a flaky crust.

Step 6:  Cut off the tops of the remaining apples. You can use a spoon and a knife (or melon baller) to hollow out the apples. You don’t need to core out the apples perfectly, you just need enough space for the filling to fit. Spoon in the apple filling into each hollowed apple.

Step 7: Lay 3 or 4 dough strips on the top of each apple. Take another dough strip and weave it over and under the dough strips on the apple. Continue alternately weaving in other strips until the apples have a lattice crust. Trim off excess dough with a knife. Place the apples onto a baking pan.

Step 8: In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together to form an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the apples. For added flavor, sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Put into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust browns. For best results, serve with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

 

  1. Apple Pie Cupcakes | Makes 8 cupcakes

Admittedly, a whole apple pie can be too big for one sitting. These apple pie cupcakes are just the right size and convenient enough if you just want to have one while on the go.

This recipe uses store-bought cinnamon roll dough for easier preparation, but you can use homemade dough if you prefer.

Ingredients:

Apple Cupcakes:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butted
  • 2 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced (1/4 inch cubes or according to preference)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh juice from half a lemon
  • 8 count (1 can) refrigerated cinnamon roll dough
  • Cooking spray

Crumble Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray 8 muffin cups of a regular size muffin tray.

Step 2: Melt the butter on a wide skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, while tossing occasionally for even cooking. Once they start to soften (around 5 minutes), stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, walnuts, and butter. Use a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers to work in the butter into the mixture until it’s crumbly.

Step 4: Separate the dough into 8 pieces and flatten each to a disk about 4 inches in diameter. Place each disk over a muffin cup and press down. Spoon in the apple filling and top with the crumble topping.

Step 5: Put into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly and the tops are browned.

 

  1. Apple Pie Oatmeal

Steel cut oats are clearly superior to rolled oats, but one major drawback is the preparation time. Fortunately, using a slow cooker can overcome this drawback and make oatmeal preparation a whole lot easier. You just throw in the ingredients the night before and wake up to a delicious breakfast treat. You can even use a disposable slow cooker liner to minimize cleanup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cup apple juice or cider
  • ½ cup low fat milk or almond milk
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Nuts, diced apples, and cinnamon sugar for toppings

Directions:

Step 1: Place all ingredients except toppings into a slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours. In the morning, give the oatmeal a stir and check for consistency. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk before serving.

 

  1. Apple Pie Cake | Makes one 3-layer 8-inch round cake

This recipe is another innovative twist to the venerable apple pie formula. And it does it by switching out the pie with a cake and caramel buttercream frosting for a sweet taste explosion. Just like any cake, this one would take some time to prepare, but all the time and effort that goes into it will pay off in the end.

This recipe uses 8-inch round cake pans. You can, of course, use the pans you have available but the yield may vary. The components have to be prepared separately and assembled.

Ingredients:

Applesauce Cake:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups unsweetened applesauce

Caramel Buttercream

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Apple Pie Filling

  • 2 Large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into thin slivers
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Smidgen of ground nutmeg
  • Smidgen of ground cloves
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon flour

Directions:

Applesauce Cake:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans (or whichever sized pans you’ll use). Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the sides and the paper lining. Dust each pan with flour and knock out as much of the loose flour as possible.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg into a large bowl.

Step 3: Using the electric mixer’s paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed. This will take about 4 minutes. Add the sugars and set to medium speed until light and fluffy (around 3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla and resume beating on medium speed until combined.

Step 4: Divide the flour mixture into three parts. Add one part of the flour and half of the applesauce. Beat on medium-low until well mixed. Add the next part and the remaining applesauce and resume beating until well mixed. Next, add the remaining flour mixture and beat again. Scrape the sides after each addition of the liquid.

Step 5: Divide the batter amongst the cake pans and smooth the tops. Lightly drop the pan to force out air bubbles.  Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake and the tops are golden brown. Rotate the pans every 15-20 minutes to ensure even baking.

Step 6: Remove from the oven and let the pans cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before turning the cakes onto the rack.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

Step 1: Combine the ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the sugar starts to melt and then stop stirring.

Step 2: Carefully look out for the change in the caramel’s color. You don’t want it too dark as it will taste burnt and bitter. As soon as it reaches dark amber, remove from heat and quickly stir in the cream and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Be careful as they will react with the hot caramel and sizzle fiercely.

Step 3: Once the sizzling dies down, place over medium-low heat and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a bowl and set aside until cool (around 30 minutes).

Step 4: Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. After each addition, beat on high speed for 10 seconds.

Step 5: Add the cool caramel sauce and beat on low speed until combined. Set to medium-high speed until fluffy, around 2 minutes.

Apple Pie Filling:

Step 1: Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large pan. Add in all the apple pie filling ingredients. Cook while continuously stirring until the apples are soft.

Step 2: Remove from heat and add in the flour. Stir until combined. Let it cool.

Assembling the Cake:

It is important that the cake has cooled before continuing with this stage.

Step 1: Trim the cake and make sure that the edges and top are flat. Start with a round cake and spread a thin layer of caramel buttercream frosting on top. Next, put on a layer of apple pie filling. Spread a thin layer of caramel buttercream frosting on the bottom of the next layer of cake before putting the cake on top. Repeat until you have all layers stacked.

Step 2: Use about 1 cup of the frosting to frost the cake, this will serve as a crumb layer, a thin layer of frosting holding the crumbs in.  Reserve the remaining frosting for later.

Step 3: Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the crumb layer hardens.

Step 4: Frost with the remaining caramel buttercream frosting.

 

  1. Apple Pie Bars | Makes 25 – 30 bars

Another variation on making smaller portions of the classic American apple pie, these bars are perfect for quick snacking.

Ingredients:

Graham Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Streusel Topping

  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Apple Pie Filling

  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup toffee bits

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Step 2: Combine your graham crust ingredients in a medium bowl and make sure to mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture onto the pan and press it down evenly and firmly to make a crust. Bake for 8 minutes and set aside.

Step 3: In a bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Once the mixture is smooth, add in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, toffee bits, and apples. Continue stirring until the flour has been completely incorporated. Spread evenly over the baked graham crust.

Step 4: In a medium bowl, combine your streusel topping ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture. Liberally sprinkle the topping over the apple filling and graham crust.

Step 5: Bake for 40-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown. Let it cool before refrigerating. You can then cut it into individual servings.