“I suggest that pie is too elemental to be trendy. Trends fade, but simple, seasonal food made from good ingredients should not.” Thus prefaces pastry chef and author Paula Haney in The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie—one of the most thoughtful and well put together baking books I’ve beheld in a long time. To call it a baking book seems insufficient though. It’s more like a guide that nudges readers to reconsider their tempo in the kitchen and their relationship to ingredients, and it’s obviously first and foremost a damn fine collection of pie recipes. Haney leads you through dough, rolling (pound it out first!), and crimping to sourcing and filling, explaining the reasons behind her shop’s techniques and tweaks with a seriously trustworthy tone and obvious expertise: she speaks, and we want to listen.
Chefs have written many a fantastic books for the home cook, but they sometimes have trouble translating scale and method appropriately, or they dumb down necessary information to make it “easier” on us dudes at home. The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie—judging from the four recipes I’ve made—doesn’t make these kinds of concessions, and there’s no reason to expect that your pies at home won’t turn out every ounce as awesome as her pies in Chicago. In any case, in observance of fall and my recent stumble upon a Maryland apple farm that offers unpasteurized cider, this caramel apple cider pie seems like the most fitting offering. And if it doesn’t ring your bell, there’s plenty in the book that will: Fat Elvis Pie, Jeffersonville Maple-Pecan Pie, French Onion Soup Pie—so much fall and wintry goodness abounds.
I didn’t change much with the apple cider pie: used a rye pie dough for the crust since it was handy and exchanged a quarter of the sugar for light brown since sour cream with brown sugar is an age-old Nye family comfort dessert. I doubt I improved it at all with the tweaks, but that’s the fun of baking on your time. In the end, it’s a tangy, salty-sweet paean to fall, with the added bonus of being based on a Lottie + Doof recipe. Get to it!
Caramel–Apple Cider Pie
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, by Paula Haney
Yields one nine-inch pie!
This recipe makes more caramel than you’ll need, but it is fall after all—drizzle that stuff all over them apples.
2 cups (493 grams) fresh apple cider
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (121 grams) full-fat sour cream
½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
4 large eggs (200 grams)
1 Tablespoon (18 grams) Calvados or other apple brandy
1 Tablespoon (11 grams) apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla paste
¼ cup (50 grams) caramel (recipe follows; I used about twice this amount to get the coverage I wanted)
1. Pour the apple cider into a one-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the cider is reduced to one-quarter cup, ten to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place your baked pie shell on a baking sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, sour cream, and salt to combine. Crack the eggs in a small bowl and fork to combine. Whisk the eggs into the sugar mixture in three additions, mixing well after each round. Stir the Calvados, cider vinegar, and vanilla into the reduced apple cider. Pour this into the egg mixture and whisk well to combine.
3. Pour the filling into your pie shell and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the edges of the filling are slightly puffed. Haney says here to gently shake the pie: it should move as one piece. If the center jiggles on its own, return the pie to the oven for five to ten minutes. The top of the pie will be very shiny when set.
4. Cool to room temperature, and prepare the caramel while you wait. Once both the pie and caramel are cool, pour one-quarter cup (or more) of caramel over the top of the pie. Spread it to the edges with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Chill pie in the fridge for at least two hours before serving; use a clean, dry knife to make smooth, even cuts. The finished pie can be stored in the fridge for two to three days.
Adapted from TheHoosier Mama Book of Pie, by Paula Haney
The set-up for this caramel is somewhat involved, but it makes a correct and excellent sauce, so don’t be dissuaded!
½ cup plus two Tablespoons (126 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (116 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature
pinch of kosher salt
1. Fill a medium, heat-proof bowl a quarter of the way with ice. Add cold water just until the ice floats, and set aside. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a second medium, heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
2. Place the sugar in a one-quart, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar melts around the edges of the saucepan, about two minutes. Gently stir with a rubber spatula, then turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook until the sugar melts in the middle. Stir until all of the sugar is melted and has turned medium amber.
3. Turn the heat down to low, and immediately pour in a small addition of cream, whisking all the while. Add the rest of the cream in four additions, whisking constantly. The caramel should appear ropy at first, then form a thick sauce.
4. Remove pan from heat and dip the bottom into the bowl of ice water to cease the cooking, being sure not to splash any water into the sauce. Remove from ice bath, and whisk in the salt. Then pour through the strainer into your heatproof bowl, and dip once more into the ice bath. Whisk occasionally until cool, assemble your pie, and use the leftovers on your apples!