Caramel apple slab pie is a great crowd pleaser–serving up to 15 people and combining both a crust and a crumble. Caramel apples and raisins make up the filling in between.
I’m a big fan of slab pies; I’m glad they’re finally getting the love they deserve. Among other things, you’ll like the way the cream and brown sugar form a thick, caramel-like coating around the apples.–Ken Haedrich
HOW DO I MAKE A CRUST FOR SLAB PIE?
Slab pies–like this one–aren’t only fun to make, they feed a dozen or more, whereas your average 9-inch round pie feeds about eight.
The catch? You’ll need more dough to make the shell for your slab pie pan, namely a 15-inch by 10-inch by 1-inch tall jelly roll pan. If you’re new to pastry making, don’t worry. Just follow the instructions below and remember to keep everything cool. Ken Haedrich himself says to “make sure your kitchen is cool before you start rolling. I’ll actually adjust the thermostat 30 minutes ahead to lower the temperature in the kitchen so it’s good and cool.”
And if you have some trouble navigating a piece of dough that big, no worries, you’re absolutely allowed to patch up some bits after you maneuver it into the sheet pan.
Caramel Apple Slab Pie
For the pie dough
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 sticks (10 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water
For the caramel apple filling
- 7 cups (2 1/4 lbs) peeled, cored, and sliced baking apples such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Big pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the crumb topping
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup well-chopped walnuts pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds
- 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted
Make the pie dough
- In a large bowl, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter on a large flour-dusted plate. Measure the water into a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Refrigerate everything for 10 to 15 minutes. Set out a 15- by 10- by 1-inch (38- by 25- by 2.5-cm) jelly-roll pan. Butter it lightly with soft butter, unless it is a non-stick pan.
- Dump dry ingredients into a food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Remove lid and scatter all of the butter over the dry ingredients. Replace the lid. Pulse until the pieces of butter are roughly the size of small peas.
- While pulsing the food processor, pour half of the water through the feed tube in a 5- to 6-second stream. Remove lid and fluff the mixture with a fork, loosening it up from the bottom of the bowl. Replace lid and pour in most of the remaining liquid, pulsing as you add it. When you still have a couple of tablespoons of water left, remove the lid and check the dough; it should hold together easily when you press it between your fingers. If it’s still quite crumbly, add the remaining water and pulse a few more times. The dough should start to form larger clumps.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape and compact the dough into a rectangle roughly 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) thick. Lightly flour a 24-inch-long (60 cm) sheet of plastic wrap. Put dough in the center of it. Dust the top of the dough with flour and gently–because the dough will be soft–roll it out a bit to increase the size of the rectangle. It should still be pretty thick, perhaps 3/4 inch (18 mm) thick. Square up the sides and corners as best you can. Wrap the dough, slide it onto a small baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
Make the crumb topping
- While the pie dough is chilling, in the bowl of a fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, nuts, coconut, and salt and mix briefly.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the warm butter in a steady stream to the dry ingredients. When all the butter is added, beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute more. The topping will form small, coarse crumbs.
- Spread crumbs evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until they become firm, about 1 hour. Either use them the same day or transfer the crumbs to a freezer bag and freeze until needed.
- When you’re ready to roll the dough, unwrap it and dust the top lightly with flour. Put dough on a 24-inch-long sheet of wax paper or a fresh piece of plastic wrap. Roll out dough into an 18- by 13-inch (45- by 33-cm) rectangle and invert or slide it into the jelly-roll pan. Center dough, then tuck it down into the creases of the pan so it fits like a glove. If excess dough hangs over the edges, fold it over and press it against the sides to beef up the edge of the pastry. Refrigerate the shell for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking. Keep it cold until right before filling.
Make the caramel apple filling
- Adjust oven racks so one is in the lower position and another is in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a large bowl, combine apples, raisins, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, cream, and lemon juice and mix well. Spread evenly in the pie shell, taking care to smooth over any apple tips, which have a tendency to scorch in the oven.
- Spread crumb topping evenly over the apples.
- Place pie on the lower oven rack and bake for 25 minutes. Lower heat to 375°F (190°C) and move the pie up to the middle rack, rotating it 180 degrees. Bake until the juices are bubbly and the topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes more. If the crumb topping starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil.
- Move pie to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Slab pie is to circular pie as cookies are to blondies. The taste of this caramel apple slab pie is the same as a circular pie, it’s just in a different shape. I love variety, so I was drawn to this pie because of the nontraditional rectangle shape.
The crust was butter flavored, crunchy deliciousness; however, I would strongly recommend following the optional advice the recipe gives to cover it with foil after the first baking period. The filling was the right amount of sweet and tart (I used granny smith apples, although there is an option to use others). I enjoyed the added flavor of raisins in the filling. I did find the thickness of the pie filling slightly lacking and wonder if adding another apple might do the trick.
The crumb topping was quick and easy to make and provided added flavor, texture and spruced up the look of the pie. I used almonds in the crumb topping as it was the only nut I had in my kitchen from the recommended nuts. Although I don’t typically think of almonds associated with pie, they paired nicely with the other ingredient flavors.
I suggest serving this delicious pie to a large group (as it should feed up to fifteen) with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.
I’m beginning to LOVE making slab pie! This is definitely a 10 on the “make your friends and neighbors jealous” scale. The streusel topping reminded me of my late mother’s apple pie; she never used a top crust, always streusel topping. It also had a flavor reminiscent of granola.
If I was to do anything differently next time I make this, it would be to plump the raisins or at least macerate them in rum.
Originally published October 23, 2021