Caramel Apple Slab Pie Baked in Shortbread Pastry.
Crisp apples are coated in a brown sugar caramel glaze, layered over tender pate brisee and piled high with buttery crumb topping.
If you’re looking for an Apple Slab Pie recipe that slices up into nice, neat squares – this isn’t your recipe. If you’re looking for the kind of Apple Slab Pie that you scoop out with a spoon into bowls that will catch ribbons of gooey caramel apple deliciousness, search no further.
This is what I like to call a bowl and spoon dessert, a phrase coined (in my mind, at least) by Sally Schneider, author of A New Way to Cook. The dessert chapter of her cookbook includes an entire section devoted to “bowl and spoon” desserts, a phrase for which I was instantly enamored. It’s not like eating desserts with a bowl and spoon is a revolutionary idea, of course. I just love giving sloppy, gooey, saucy desserts their own category. The very idea of a bowl and spoon dessert is both homey and elegant. And that’s pretty much the best way I can think to describe this Apple Slab Pie.
This Apple Slab Pie is kind of a simpler, homey version of tart Tatin.
Tart Tatin is AMAZING. Crisp apples are sautéed in butter and sugar, glazing them in caramel, and then covered with pate brisee pastry and baked before being inverted onto a platter. It’s a lovely, elegant and absolutely delicious dessert. However, if you’re going to make it, it’s pretty important to invest in a tarte Tatin pan, which is a worthy, but pricy investment. Also, the caramel can be a bit tricky to get just right, and when it’s done baking you have to invert the whole thing, hope the pastry holds together and nothing sticks.
None of this, fellow baker, should discourage you from making tart Tatin, if you are so inclined. As I said, it’s amazing. But, if you’re looking for the best parts of a tart Tatin – the buttery shortbread crust and gooey caramel apple filling, this Apple Slab Pie will get you there with considerably less trouble. Plus, there’s the buttery crumb topping. Kind of like a bonus.
A few things to know before you start filling your house with the mouthwatering smell of apples, butter, and brown sugar…
Pate Brisee is one of the most simple pasty doughs you can make, but you need either a standing mixer or a food processor. The recipe below calls for a standing mixer. If you’d rather use a food processor, mix the butter into the first cup of flour as the recipe instructs, using the chopping blade. Then switch to the dough blade to incorporate the rest of the flour and the water. Pulse to bring the mixture to a dough and then knead a few times with your hands to bring the dough to completion.
Pate Brisee can also be frozen for up to 1 month. So, if you are planning to make this apple slab pie some time in the future, that’s one way to get a head start. If you’d prefer to make a smaller apple slab pie, simply divide the dough in half, placing one half (well wrapped) in the freezer for later use. The rest of the recipe can be halved pretty easily.
The kind of apples you use are fairly important. I used Granny Smith apples, but Honeycrisp, Braeburn or Mcintosh apples will also work well.
Finally, this apple slab pie is best eaten the day it’s made, while it’s still warm. But it’s still pretty delicious the next day. If you’re not eating it right away, cover and store at room temperature and then heat individual servings in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to warm. It’s delicious all on its own, but even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or drizzle of Crème Anglaise – which takes only about 10 minutes to make and will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 8 ounces cold butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ¼ cup ice water
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 9 tbsp butter, melted
- 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 10 cups tart, crisp apples (approximately 12 medium size apples)
- 3 tbsp Sorghum Syrup or Maple Syrup
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp butter, cut into ½ inches cubes
- Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter slowly, a handful at a time. After all the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the butter has been completely incorporated into the dough.
- Add the additional cup of flour and mix just to combine. Add the water and mix just long enough to combine and form a dough. The dough will form around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch. If the dough feels quite wet or sticky, add another tablespoon of flour.
- Dump the dough out onto a long sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into an oblong disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. (The dough can be frozen for 1 month.) While the pastry rests in the refrigerator, make the crumb topping.
- Add all the ingredients except the melted butter to a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and mix with a spatula or your hands until all of the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter. The topping will not be wet, but if you squeeze a handful together it should stick into large crumbs. If it is too dry to hold together, add one more tablespoon of melted butter. Cover and set aside at room temperature while you make the apple filling.
- Add the lemon juice to a large, heavy bottom sauce pan. Peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼ inch slices. Add the apples to the pan as you slice, tossing them with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
- Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside while you roll out the pastry.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have an ungreased 9x13 glass baking dish at the ready.
- Lightly flour a work surface. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator, remove from the plastic wrap, and roll out into a rectangle that is approximately 16-inches by 12-inches, large enough to cover the bottom and come up the sides of your 9x13 baking dish. Gently lift the pastry and place it in the baking dish, pressing it into the edges and corners of the pan.
- Pour the apple pie filling into the pastry, smoothing the apple slices with a spoon to create an even layer.
- Add the crumb topping in an even layer over the apple pie filling, squeezing the crumb topping as you sprinkle it over the apples to create some larger crumbs.
- Bake for 50 minutes - until the apple pie filling is bubbling up a bit at the edges of the apple slab pie. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
- If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream or crème anglaise (recipe follows).
- 1¾ cup whole milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed medium size saucepan and cook over medium heat until bubbles appear along the edges of the pan.
- While the milk is heating – add the sugar and egg yolks to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is thickened slightly and pale yellow. Beat in the cornstarch.
- With the mixer running, gradually pour the heated milk into the egg yolks in a thin steady stream. Stop the mixer halfway through pouring in the milk to quickly scrape down the sides of the bowl. Resume beating at medium speed to slowly add the remaining milk.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the spoon with a light, creamy layer. Do not let the mixture come close to boiling. The maximum temperature it reaches should be 170 degrees.
- Strain the sauce into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer and stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before drizzling over the Apple Slab Pie.