Thanksgiving is almost here, and I’ve been looking for a dessert worthy of the biggest food holiday on the calendar. It took some searching, but I finally decided on this Cast Iron Pan Apple Pie. Apple pie used to be the only thing I could bake from scratch before I started this blog. It took some practice because I was a terrible baker, but I finally had one thing I could bake that wasn’t a disaster. But it’s been a few years since I’ve made an apple pie, and I thought this recipe looked like it would be a touch easier than my trusty recipe. So let’s find out if it is.
This is a three-layer apple pie baked in a cast iron frying pan. There are three layers of shortcrust pastry, with a delectable apple filling sandwiched in between. It makes a lovely rustic presentation brought to the table right in the pan.
This recipe is from All Recipes UK/Ireland site, so I had to make some substitutions. Apparently shortcrust pastry is a European thing, and the closest thing I could find here in the US was puff pastry. The internet seemed divided as to whether it could be used as a substitute for shortcrust pastry, so I decided to take a chance. I used my usual Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry.
Another item I had to substitute was the caster sugar. I’ve heard the term but didn’t know what it was. Back to the internet to find out! Caster sugar is finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as powdered sugar. I couldn’t find it locally but Amazon has a big selection.
I was prepared to order a bag when I found a way to make it. Just add regular sugar to your food processor (slightly more than you think you will need) and process for 1-2 minutes. The result will be finer grains of sugar as long as you don’t overdo it and end up with powdered sugar.
The rest was typical for baking and easily found at my local grocery store.
So I went to the grocery store today, and I discovered I was wrong about the puff pastry as soon as I walked over to the dairy section. They had a big Thanksgiving display that included a better option: refrigerated pie crust. I had no idea there was such a thing! Frozen pie shells, yes, refrigerated pie dough, no. So I had to buy two packages along with more butter and apples so I could give this recipe another try. I’ll post a photo and the results ASAP.
The first thing I did was making the caster sugar as I mentioned above. I processed just over 2 cups of granulated sugar for 1.5 minutes and only had a little bit leftover.
Then I got out was my scale so I would have everything measured out before I got started. Weighing ingredients is the standard in the metric system, and I’ve heard it’s more accurate. I’m not a fan, but it wasn’t so bad since there are only a few ingredients to weigh. Don’t have a scale? All Recipes has a Cup to Gram Conversion Chart that might help.
Next up was peeling, coring, and slicing the apples. Remember how I said apple pie used to be the only thing I could bake? I don’t normally buy big gadgets as I don’t have much storage space, but I was so committed that I bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer. It’s not a requirement but totally worth it. I had the apples ready in a snap.
All that prep work took about half an hour, but it was still quicker than making it all from scratch. Here is how my time broke down:
- 28 minutes to prep
- 45 minutes to bake
- 1 hour 13 minutes total
One thing I noticed was the puff pastry sheets were small enough to fit into the cast iron pan. That was great for the first 2 layers. I just used a rolling pin to roll out the top layer so it covered the entire pan and trimmed off the excess. It worked pretty well, but there was a gap between the crust and the edge of the pan after baking. Next time I will try rolling the excess into edging to cover the gap.
I gave this recipe another try using the refrigerated pie crust. It was still smashing, and I’m not sure which version I preferred. The crust on the second pie was more buttery, but it stuck to the bottom of the pan like crazy. That deprived us of much of the delicious brown sugar goodness we got with the first version and was kind of a bummer. The top crust was crisp and flaky, though.
I had to roll out the thawed crust just like I did with the puff pastry version. I’m sure that was because I used a 12-inch pan. A smaller 10-inch pan would have been closer to a standard pie pan and required little or no rolling.
In the end, my husband and I had trouble deciding which version was the best. They were both delicious! I think the version using the pie crust edged out the puff pastry version in taste and appearance. It was a little more buttery, and the top crust didn’t shrink away from the edges.