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Every September, our family makes a trip to the nearby Saline Fair for a big evening of 4-H exhibits, midway rides, and fair food.  One of the highlights is the caramel apple we purchase just before leaving for “tomorrow” and almost invariably eat on the way home.

Our fair tradition has grown to include the next generation with the addition of our granddaughter Emmalie to the clan, but this year we missed the fair due to our offspring being dispersed to Toronto and Poland.  I’m sharing this recipe to keep our traditional alive!

Here’s a recipe that captures the fun and flavor of a caramel apple in pie form.  It’s a great pie made fantastic by the addition of homemade caramel.

Ingredients:

Pastry:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup shortening
6 tablespoons water

Filling:
4 good-sized apples, peeled, cored & sliced
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Topping:
½ cup butter
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar

½ walnuts, chopped
½ cup homemade caramel

Caramel:
1 cup sugar
¼ water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Step 1: The Pastry

Pie pastry is not as scary or difficult as many people believe.

As Julia Child is reputed to have said, "You are the boss of that dough!"  Whether or not she did say it, it is the proper attitude to have when handling pie pastry.

First mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.

Add ¾ cup (5-1/2 ounces) of vegetable shortening.  Cut it in with a pastry cutter.  Be patient with this step. Work in the shortening until the dough resembles fine crumbles. 

Add the water, sprinkling it over the surface.  Stir the mixture with a fork, attempting an even saturation of water and flour.

When the dough comes together, gather it with your hand. Kneed it all together 4 or 5 times.

Step 2: Rolling Out the Pastry

The trick to handling pastry is not to let it stick.  Flour is your defense. Use it.  

Generously sprinkle a surface with flour, sprinkle the pastry with flour, and roll out the pastry.  I really like working with a marble rolling pin and marble board, but again the trick is the right amount of flour to keep your pastry from sticking.  

Line a pan with the dough and crimp the edge.

My pastry recipe makes enough for 3 - 9 inch pans.  While you are at it, line 2 more pie pans and put them in the freezer for easier future recipe preparation.

Step 3: The Filling

Peel, core and slice the apples.  Place them in a large bowl.

Add the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Stir well.

Turn apple mixture into the pastry and arrange.

Step 4: The Topping

Put oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, and butter in a large bowl.

Cut with pastry cutter to mix thoroughly.

Top apples with crumble mixture.  Arrange for even coverage.

Step 5: Bake

Place pie in a 375F (190F) oven for 25 minutes.

Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes more, until apples are tender.

Remove and sprinkle top with chopped pecans while still warm.  Gently pat nuts into to topping.

Cool to room temperature before drizzling caramel.

Step 6: Making Caramel

CAUTION:  Making caramel is hot, hot work!  Shoo away children, pets, and other distractions, and concentrate on this one process!

While pie is baking or cooling, make the caramel.  Caramel is a little bit scary and difficult but not impossible to make.  It’s a hot process that requires your complete attention for about 10 minutes. 

In a heavy 5 quart saucepan, add sugar, water and corn syrup.  Heat over medium high and stir until the sugar dissolves, scraping down the sides.

When the mixture reaches a boil, hand off!  Stop stirring.  If you have a candy thermometer, you can use it now.

The mixture will take about 5 minutes to reach the 320-350F (160-176C) range.  You are watching for a deep amber color, which appears around 340F (171C).   Remove from the heat.

Heat the cream.  (I put it in the microwave for 1 minute)

Very carefully add the hot cream to the sugar mixture.  It will bubble furiously so be extremely careful. 

Stir the mixture with a heat-resistant spatula, scraping down the sides and bottom.

Once smooth, add the butter and salt and stir until those dissolve.

Cool for a few minutes, then add the vanilla.

Step 7: Finishing the Pie

When the pie is cool, drizzle the top with caramel.  You may need to heat the caramel slightly to get the desired drizzling consistency.

Now enjoy your fantastic homemade Caramel Apple Pie!
<p>Mmmm</p>
<p>Thanks!</p>
Me too! This pie really captures the essence of a caramel apple!
Just love caramel apple!!!

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