It’s almost game-time, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. This is my favorite holiday of the year by a long shot, which is probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me well. A food-focused day with friends and family, truthfully, I could Thanksgiving frequently. Last year I blogged about a favorite slightly less traditional dessert, a sweet potato tart, as well as a true Thanksgiving essential, homemade cranberry sauce. This year I’m going with another take on a classic American favorite: apple slab pie. Made in a standard baking sheet, this–believe it or not–easy dessert, works great for groups. Another plus, the slab pie version creates the perfect balance of filling and crust, you get equal proportions of both. So, if you are in the planning stages for Thanksgiving and still trying to figure out what you can make for dessert that won’t take too long and you can prep ahead, this is the answer.
Never made a slab pie? No problem. Let’s break it down nice and simple. If you read my blog often, you will know that I’m a big believer in making your own pie dough. If you use a Cusinart, it takes almost no time at all. You can make it in advance and refrigerate it or you can freeze it and it holds up well, I do that all the time. Prep work, especially on big holidays, can be done days (sometimes weeks) in advance, so get on it. For this recipe, I make my pie dough recipe times 4 to cover the sheet pan and give me plenty of dough for the decorative lattice top. But if you can’t make your own crust, buy it, no matter what, it will be ok. If you use pre-rolled crust rounds, you will need about 6 to cover this surface area. But note, you will need to re-roll the dough into large rectangular shapes for this recipe, but I’ve tested that and it works just fine.
For the filling, delicious flavorful crispy apples work best. My go-to is Honeycrisp, which have a great sweet-tart balance and are nice and crisp. The filling is not time-intensive and can also be made in advance. This can easily be made and refrigerated 3 days ahead without losing flavor.
The beauty of a slab pie is you’re going to cut it up into much smaller pieces, so appearance-wise, it does not need to look “pie-perfect” which is something that stresses people out about making pies. If you have made a lattice pie before, you got this: you are doing the same thing here, just with a rectangular shape. If you are new to this type of decorative top, don’t panic. Lay all the horizontal strips first keeping them as close together as possible. Next, start with the vertical strips, carefully weaving them in and out of the horizontal ones. The trick is adjusting them a bit as you go. Keeping the strips close together works best, if you ask me.
The finished product should look something like this. If you master this, you will impress everyone. If you can’t deal with the lattice top, that is okay as well: skip it, and make one full sheet to cover the top. But remember to make some slits on top to allow the steam to escape. The bake time may vary a bit, but not much, just keep an eye on it in the oven. Nice fork crimped edges all around will ensure a more uniform pie crust look.
Once baked, it is important to allow the slab pie to cool and set, this will make slicing it substantially easier and keep your lattice intact. Once cooled, the slab pie pieces can be cut (using a slicing knife) into almost any shape or size, from generous full slices shown here, to bite-size pieces that work well with buffet-style dessert tables.
If you are making this slab pie as your main dessert, make it beautiful. And by that I mean add a generous scoop of rice, creamy vanilla ice cream to each serving. (It’s the holiday, indulge a bit). Buy the good stuff, trust me, you are taking homemade “apple pie” to a whole new level with this slab version.
So despite the holiday craziness, remember to break things down and prep ahead so you can enjoy it. The apple slab pie can be made a day before and reheated in a low oven, I’ve tried that as well and no one will ever know the difference. Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to any and all who celebrate.
Apple Slab Pie
- For the Pie Dough: (multiply the recipe by 4)
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- dash of salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup cold water
- For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 pounds (about 8) medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- Dash of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought apple sauce
- For the Glaze:
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Step 1 For the Pie Dough: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, such as a Cuisinart, fitted with a metal blade attachment. Pulse on/off to incorporate. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the dough resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, slowly add the water in a steady stream. Pulse until the dough has just come together. Be careful not to over mix.
- Step 2 With your hands form the dough into 3 equal round flat disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 3 For the Filling: Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, apples, both sugars, and 2 tablespoons water. Sauté for 5 minutes until apples begin to get tender. Add the cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract and mix well. Sauté until apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the apple sauce. Set aside.
- Step 4 To Assemble the Slab Pie: Place a baking sheet near your work station. Remove 1 pie dough disk and allow to warm up slightly. On a lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin, roll the pie dough into a large 14×19-inch rectangle. Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and gently press it into the corners and edges of the pan.
- Step 5 Spoon the apple filling into the dough lined baking pan and spread out evenly. Place in the refrigerator while you work on the lattice top.
- Step 6 Remove another dough disk from the refrigerator and allow to warm up slightly. Roll the dough out into a 16×14-inch rectangle. Working horizontally, using a paring knife and a ruler, cut the dough into 8 long equal strips about 1 1/2-inches wide.
- Step 7 Remove the baking pan from the refrigerator and transfer the 8 long strips to the pie, placing them very close together so there is almost no space between them. Allow the edges to hang over or fold the end underneath if very long. Place the pie back in the refrigerator to rest.
- Step 8 Remove the 3rd dough disk from the refrigerator and allow to warm up slightly. Again, roll out the dough into a 16×14-inch rectangle. Using a paring knife and ruler, cut the dough vertically this time into 10 equal strips about 1 1/2-inches in width. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator.
- Step 9 Place the baking pan horizontally in front of you with the two shorter sides on the ends. Working with one strip at a time, starting on the left, lay the first strip down on top and gently weave the strip in and out of the longer strips working your way from the top to the bottom and left to right, as seen on the photo above. This will take some time, so be patient. Repeat this process with the second strip directly next to the strip you just weaved, leaving very little space in between. Repeat until the whole pie has been covered.
- Step 10 Once the strips are all in place, gently tuck the remaining overhanging dough underneath itself. Use a fork to go around the crust and gently crimp. Place the pie in the refrigerator to rest for a few minutes.
- Step 11 For the Glaze: While the pie is chilling, in a small mixing bowl add the egg and heavy cream and mix well. Set aside.
- Step 12 Remove the pie from the refrigerator and using a pastry brush, gently brush the pie all over with the glaze. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, rotating once, until golden brown all over. Turn off the oven and allow to sit for an additional 5 minutes.
- Step 13 Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.