High Country Baking: Boozing up apple pie
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
What happens when you give a traditional apple pie a few shots of bourbon? It gets more complex, a little sweeter and a tad sophisticated. The addition of alcohol, though subtle, is a pleasant surprise. Gild the lily by serving the pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm bourbon-caramel sauce.
Very little can go wrong; the recipe is quite straightforward. Just be sure that the streusel doesn’t burn and the apples bake until they’re beautifully tender.
Tipsy Apple Pie
Make in a 9-inch glass pie pan
Your favorite dough for a single crust pie
2 1/2 to 3 pounds Golden Delicious apples
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon quick-cooking or old fashioned oatmeal
A little less than 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A little less than 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
Bourbon-caramel sauce (optional)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Cut the peeled and cored apples into slices about 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 of an inch thick. You should have 6-7 cups. Set them aside.
Whisk the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large saucepan until combined. Add the bourbon and lemon juice and whisk again until well mixed. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until the mixture boils and thickens slightly. Add the apple slices and stir/toss them until they’re all coated with the liquid. Continue to stir while the fruit gives off some juices and softens slightly but isn’t cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make the streusel: Cut the butter into small pieces and combine them, in a mixing bowl, with all of the streusel ingredients except for the pecans. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips (pinching and rubbing), blend the mixture until it’s evenly moistened and clumps together when pressed. Mix in the pecans. Set aside.
Grease the bottom of the pie pan (not the sides), roll out your dough, fit it in the pan and crimp the edges. Add the apple mixture, filling the crust right up to the crimped edges (you may have some left over). Cut the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and distribute them over the fruit. Pinch the streusel into clumps and sprinkle evenly over the top.
Place the pie on a cookie sheet and tent a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top. Bake for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. After 5 minutes at the reduced temperature, remove the foil (so the streusel will start to color). Bake until the crust and streusel are golden and the apples are tender (check by inserting a knife; it should go through the fruit with just a slight resistance) another 25-40 minutes. If the streusel is done before the apples, tent it with foil again.
Remove to a rack to cool. You can serve it immediately when it’s cooled to warm, but the filling may be runny. It will be better if the filling can set up for several hours or, preferably, overnight (covered loosely and stored in a cool place). Slice the cold pie and serve at room temperature or re-heat pieces in a 325 degree oven until warm to the touch.
To make bourbon-caramel sauce (optional): Whisk the brown sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a saucepan. Place over low heat and cook (don’t stir), swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar dissolves and mixture starts to simmer. Add the cream and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (this can take 3-6 minutes). Add the bourbon and vanilla and simmer 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, store in refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat before serving.
Vera Dawson, author of the new high altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards and The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.