Caramel Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Streusel and Salted Caramel Sauce
Tart apples are coated with a luxuriously rich salted caramel sauce then piled into a flaky fool-proof pie crust, topped with buttery, brown sugar streusel, and baked until bubbly, saucy, and golden before being smothered with even more salted caramel sauce.
This caramel apple pie is a delicious combination of flavors and textures, rich and buttery without being overly sweet.
This is hard for me to say, but I think this might be my favorite pie ever. Gawd. There's so much commitment in that statement that it's making me feel uncomfortably trapped. And yet... it might also be true.
Actually, what I really should say that this caramel apple pie is my favorite FRUIT pie ever. Although, Mixed Berry Plum Pie is also a strong contender. Whatever. THIS is the pie I want to eat right now and all throughout the fall, right up through Christmas.
It's just about as packed with apples as you can get without having them spill out over the sides of the pie plate. It's topped with buttery, crunchy, brown sugar crumb topping. AND - not only are the apples inside the filling coated with Salted Caramel Sauce, the entire pie is covered in the sauce.
Apple pie covered in liquid gold. That's what we've got going on here.
What is it about apples and caramel???
There are certain kinds of food that are just meant to be together. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Cake and ice cream. Pancakes and maple syrup. And apples and caramel.
The biggest challenge in making caramel apple pie is to include the maximum amount of caramel WITHOUT ending up with a pie that's overly sweet.
Let me clarify something right now. This is an apple pie with brown sugar topping covered in caramel sauce. It's sweet. BUT, it's not cloying. Unless you eat a ridiculous amount of it, it will not leave you with the sense that you're about to go into a sugar coma.
One of the secrets to creating a caramel apple pie that is decadently caramel-y without being overly sweet is to use a LOT of tart apples. Strong emphasis on TART.
I tested this pie with a few different varieties (alright, if I MUST bake another apple pie...for research, you know) and Granny Smith or Macintosh apples are the way to go. This is the opposite of what you want for Apple Cinnamon Pancakes or Apple Cinnamon Muffins. In those recipes, the sweeter the apples are, the better.
But, when you are coating all the apples with salted caramel sauce, you want your apples to be super tart. The other thing about using Granny Smith or Macintosh apples is that they stay slightly crisp even after baking. This provides a delicious contrast of textures that I also love.
Also, you'll notice that the filling for this apple pie includes very little sugar. Aside from a touch of brown sugar, all the sweet you need is coming from the caramel sauce.
Why I chose to cover this pie in streusel instead of a top crust
I've made this pie both ways - with a top crust and with this buttery, brown sugar streusel. I prefer the streusel for a two main reasons: texture and flavor.
Crust is awesome. Especially when it's flaky and so tender it practically melts in your mouth. So, baking an apple pie with a double crust is delicious. But, in this case, crust AND streusel is even better.
The streusel atop this apple pie adds a whole new dimension of flavor and texture. The butter in the streusel gives it a nice crunch while also keeping it tender. It's very similar to the consistency of shortbread - crunching under your teeth with the first bite, and then quite literally melting in your mouth.
I like to add a touch of whole wheat flour and almond extract to this streusel because both ingredients give the streusel a subtle nuttiness. And, the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg allowed me to add more cinnamon and nutmeg to the pie without over spicing the filling.
Flaky fool proof pie crust
As always, if you have a tried-and-true pie crust recipe that you love, use that. But, my go-to pie crust for over 20 years has been this recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust because it is, quite literally, fool proof.
Every time I publish a pie recipe that calls for Fool Proof Pie Crust, I receive comments like this one:
"I made this pie, including your Fool Proof Pie Crust, yesterday. I had given up making homemade pie crust many years ago! Although my rolling pin skills are poor, this pie turned out fantastic. The blueberry filling is not overly sweet, so you can still taste the fruit, and the crust was delicious and flaky. 62 years old and I finally made a good pie crust- better late than never!" - Comment from Karen on Perfect Blueberry Pie
For this pie, I tried something I've never done before with pie crust - I rolled it out with graham cracker crumbs instead of flour. The effect was subtle, but yummy. The graham cracker crumbs added a touch of additional flavor and sweetness to the baked crust that I quite enjoyed.
I won't go as far as saying that rolling the crust out with graham cracker crumbs made a big difference in the taste of the crust. It was subtle, for sure. I won't even say that I'll do this every time I make this pie. But, if you happen to have some graham crackers on hand, give it a try.
IMPORTANT: When you line your pie plate, crimp the edge of the crust so that it extends at least a half inch above the top of the pie plate. This pie includes a lot of apple filling because the apples will shrink down as they bake. You want the crust to be nice and tall to contain all those apples PLUS the streusel and the caramel sauce.
If you don't want to make homemade salted caramel sauce...
I simply MUST begin by urging you to make homemade salted caramel sauce. It's not as difficult as you might think and just sooooo silky smooth and delicious it's worth every second. Plus, the recipe makes more than you'll need for this pie and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
I don't think I need to tell you how fabulous it is to have salted caramel sauce in your refrigerator.
Having said that, you don't have to make your salted caramel sauce from scratch. A good quality prepared, store bought caramel sauce will work just fine. If it's not salted, and you want to salt it, heat it in a saucepan just until it begins to bubble. Add a teaspoon or two of salt, stir to dissolve, and then go ahead and use it in this pie.
More all-time favorite apple recipes:
- Apple Cake with Cider Buttercream
- Apple Cobbler with Gooey Brown Sugar Cookie Crumble
- Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
- Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce
- Apple Fritters with Maple Glaze
- Saucy Apple Slab Pie
- Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Streusel
- Apple Butter and Pastry Cream Hand Pies
- Slow Cooker Apple Butter
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
- ½ recipe Fool Proof Pie Crust, chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (*See note)
For the Caramel Apple Filling:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about the size of 1 large lemon)
- 3 & ½ - 4 lbs (8 cups) tart apples, such as granny smith or Macintosh, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 ½ tbsp cornstarch
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups salted caramel sauce, divided
- 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
For the Crumb Topping:
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 8 tbsp (½ cup) butter, melted
- ½ tsp almond extract (optional)
- Line a pie plate with pie crust dough, crimping the edges of the crust so that it extends about ½-inch above the pie plate (see video and pictures above). Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. (You'll find instructions for how to line a pie plate in this recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into a large, heavy bottom sauce pan and toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you slice them to prevent the slices from browning.
- Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a small bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to coat the apples.
- Stir 1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce into the apples and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Continue to cook and stir for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract, if using.
- Pour the apple pie filling into the pie crust, creating a slight dome of apples in the center of the pie. There will be a LOT of apples. Pile them on; the apples will shrink as the pie bakes. Place the pie plate on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet (to catch any drips). Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
While the pie begins to bake, make the crumb topping, then keep baking:
- In a medium size bowl, add all the topping ingredients except the butter and almond extract, and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and almond extract (if using), and mix with your hands just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. It should be the consistency of wet sand. If you squeeze it together in your hand, it should clump together. If it's too dry, add a bit more butter, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pie from the oven and cover the apple pie filling with the crumb topping, squeezing the topping with your hands to create some large clumps.
- Return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
- Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil (this will prevent the streusel from burning) and bake for another 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the bottom crust is baked through.
- Remove the apple pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Pour the remaining 1 cup salted caramel sauce over the top of the pie and serve. (This pie is best served slightly warm or at room temperautre)
The recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust includes 1 egg. To half the recipe, crack an egg into a small bowl, whisk with a for, and measure out 1 & ½ tablespoons. Alternatively, make a full recipe of pie crust dough and freeze the extra. Simply wrap the extra pie crust dough tightly in plastic wrap then place inside a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 680mgCarbohydrates: 105gFiber: 5gSugar: 80gProtein: 4g