Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Serves 8 to 10

Note: This pie crust recipe makes enough for a double crust. Simply divide the crust ingredients in half for a single crust pie.

All-butter crust:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, in 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup cold water

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup ice

Filling:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

1/4 pound unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 lemons

6 to 7 baking apples (about 2 1/2 pounds)

2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters

1/3 cup raw sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

One grind fresh black pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon flake sea salt, plus more for finishing

Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt)

Demerara sugar

1. Crust: Stir flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add butter; coat with flour using a scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, quickly cut butter into flour, until mostly pea-size pieces remain.

2. Combine water, vinegar and ice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the water mixture over the flour mixture; cut in until fully incorporated. Add more water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together.

3. Divide dough in half; shape into 2 flat disks, wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

4. Remove dough from refrigerator; let rest 5 to 10 minutes before you begin rolling. Roll one disk into a 12-inch circle; line a 9-inch pie pan. Roll second disk into a 12-inch circle; cut 8 inch-wide lattice strips. Transfer lattice strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes or more.

5. For the filling, whisk together 1 cup sugar and the water in a medium saucepan; cook over medium-low heat until dissolved. Add butter; bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking over medium heat until mixture turns a deep golden brown, almost copper. Off heat, immediately add cream in a slow stream. (Be careful of spatters.) Whisk well. Let cool while you prepare the apple filling.

6. Juice lemons into a large bowl, removing seeds.

7. Prepare apples using an apple-peeling machine, or core, peel, and thinly slice them with a sharp knife. Dredge slices in lemon juice. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside to soften slightly and release juices, 20 to 30 minutes.

8. In a large bowl, sprinkle Angostura bitters over the raw sugar. Stir in spices, pepper, salt and flour. Add apples, leaving behind any liquid, and gently turn to coat.

9. Tightly layer apples in pie shell so there are minimal gaps, mounding apples slightly higher in the center. Pour a generous 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce evenly over apples (use the rest for ice cream sundaes). Sprinkle with flake sea salt.

10. Assemble lattice over pie; crimp edges. Chill 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry.

11. Meanwhile, position oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

12. Brush pastry with egg wash, being careful not to drag caramel onto the pastry. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and flake sea salt. Place pie on the baking sheet; bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry begins to brown.

13. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees, move pie to center rack, and continue to bake until pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Test apples with a skewer or sharp knife; they should be tender and offer just the slightest resistance.

14. Cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Keeps refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.

-- Courtesy Emily and Melissa Elsen, "The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book" (Grand Central Life & Style, $30, 224 pages)