Experiments in tinkering and thought

Apple Experiments – Apple Walnut Sugar Pie

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Just when I thought we were out of apples and I could move on to some other ingredient as a base for my recipes, lo and behold, more APPLE PICKING!  We went with my wife’s family this time, picking a combination of Cortland and Empire.

This time I wanted to try making a cross between an apple pie and a sugar pie.

The first thing then is that it had so be sweet, and so the I began by making a sort of caramel.  Typically, that is done by putting sugar with a very small amount of water into a pan and heating it until it browns.  I did something very similar, using a mix of white and brown sugar, but also adding a piece of honeycomb to give it a honey flavour.

I also wanted the walnuts on the pie to be candied.  I have never done this before, but I tried doing it my way: I put the walnuts into the boiling sugar solution and left them for 5-10 minutes.  After that, I removed them from the solution (no easy task as the liquid gets fairly thick), and rolled them in a mix of sugar with a bit of cinnamon and salt.  In the end, I put them on the pie after it cooked in the oven, but you could just as easily put them on before for them to caramelize completely.

Covering walnuts in sugary goodness

Once the walnuts were mostly out of the caramel, I threw in the apples that had been chopped into about 2 cm (3/4″) cubes.  I let them cook, covered for about 10 minutes, then uncovered to evaporate some of the significant amount of liquid that had come out of them.  I then added 1/2 cup of flour to thicken the remaining liquid as well as about cinnamon, because that is just what you do with an apple pie.  The mix was then transferred to the crust.  Some of the remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture was sprinkled on top of the pie; I was hoping to get a bit of a crust like a crème brûlée, but I did not broil it enough for that in the end.  It was put in the oven and cooked for about 15 minutes.

2014-10-12 17.39.32

Finally, the candied walnuts were put on top to finish it.

Honestly, this was not the most appetizing pie visually, but it was quite good taste-wise.  I was surprised that the taste of honey did indeed come through in the pie; I thought it would have been overwhelmed by the apples and sugar and cinnamon. The walnuts were a nice contrast in texture to the softened apples; I normally prefer the apples in my pies to have a bit more texture, which is why I normally do not cook them before putting them in the oven, but in the end this recipe reached the objective of combination apple and sugar pie, with the caveat that it was honey themed rather than maple themed.

Apple Walnut Sugar Pie Recipe

  • Bottom pie crust
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp honeycomb
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 Cortland apples (cut into 2 cm cubes)
  • 1/2 cup white flour

Walnut candying mix:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Put the sugars into a large sauce pan (make sure there is sufficient head space as the sugar bubbles a lot) with water and honeycomb and set to medium-high heat.

Once the mix starts boiling, add the walnuts.  Keep heating until it starts to darken in colour and thicken.  While this is happening, make the walnut candying mix in a bowl on the side.

Keep heating the mix until about soft crack stage.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the sugary mix, then roll them around in it to make sure they are fully covered.  It is not important if you get all of them.

Add the apples into the sauce pan, mix thoroughly, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes to soften the apples.

Remove the lid and let it cook and evaporate for about another 5-10 minutes.

Add the flour and mix thoroughly, no lump!  The amount can be adjusted considering the amount of liquid that comes out of the apples.  This will vary with different types of apples.

Transfer to an uncooked pie crust.  Use some of the remaining sugar mix from the walnuts (without the nuts) to sprinkle on the top.  How much of it you use depends how much sugar you really want to add.

(optional) Put the candied walnuts on top for them to caramelize fully.  (I added put them after cooking)

Cook in the oven until the crust has browned to your liking – about 15 minutes.

If you have not done so already, put the candied walnuts on top to make a nice top.  Serve with ice cream!

2014-10-12 17.58.51


Author: Tinker

I am finishing a PhD at Université de Montréal, following a bachelors in Biochemistry as well as a Masters degree in chemistry from McGill. I have many hobbies that are centered around experiments of some sort (either electronics, coding, cooking, construction, plants, acrobatics, etc.). I also have been doing tai chi for the last decade, and intermittently doing kung fu as well.

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