Semi-Homemade Apple Pie & Bourbon-Salted Caramel


Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for a large crowd calls for plenty of resourcefulness and serious time-planning skills.

As I mentioned in my previous post: Thanksgiving Dinner Made Easy: Lessons Learned the Hard Way,  storebought quintessential ingredients rush to our rescue when we are totally overwhelmed by the number of dishes we have to make for this special occasion.

This apple pie calls for storebought puff pastry.  Making a pie crust from scratch while you and your kitchen are steaming is not fun.  Thanks to the handy puff pastry, this pie takes no more than 30 minutes of active prep time.  

For the pie filling, the apples are seasoned with warm pungent spices and sweetened with brown sugar that gently caramelizes when the pie is baked. The swirls of golden strips on the surface of the pie, add a special festive appearance.

To perk things up, I serve the pie with a good quality of vanilla ice cream.  I also cheat on the sauce! And that is totally fine, as it is a fairly forgiving dish.  I bring a cup of storebought salted caramel sauce to below simmering point and add two tablespoons of bourbon. Voila!  (recipe below).

In case you are in rush for the recipe you can scroll down.  Yet, if you are having your coffee break and have a few more minutes to chill out,  I invite you to read below my memories associated with apple pie.

Apple pie is a  foreign dish to traditional Egyptian repertoire.  Growing up in Egypt, apples were a rarity up until the nineties.    

I recall my family,  among others, driving for a few hours to Port Said— a charming port city on the north-east of Egypt—to purchase imported Lebanese and American red apples.  Things have changed in the nineties.  Thanks to an agricultural revolution, and open market policies, locally grown and imported apples are now omnipresent in wide varieties across Egypt. 

My first encounter with apple pie was a revelation.  Growing up in cosmopolitan Alexandria, Egypt, I vividly recall our neighbor Auntie Adria. The first person who introduced me to Apple Pie.

Auntie Adria was a classy older Egyptian woman and a magnificent home cook.  She used to spend ten months every year with her grown-up children in the US, where they live, and two months in her beloved hometown, Alexandria.

She grasped the recipe of American apple pie from her time spent in the US.  And she was able to adeptly replicate it and serve it to her friends and neighbors in Alexandria.

In the summertime, my mom adopted the tradition of inviting our female neighbors by sunset for mint tea and homemade goodies in our Mediterranean-overlooking balcony.  While each neighbor was bragging about her signature sweet dish, Tante Adria’s apple pie always and effortlessly stole the show.

The filling was a concoction of perfectly caramelized apples, spiced up by cinnamon and cloves,  and studded with sultanas.  The scrumptious filling was sandwiched between two flaky crusts which shatter and melt in your mouth once you bite into them.

All these memories were arising, putting a big smile on my face, while I was making my own short-cut version of apple pie.

Roll out your storebought puff pasty and you are one step away from a crowd-pleaser dish.

Apple Pie and Bourbon Salted Caramel

Serves 6-8


The Crust 

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1/2 cup flour or more for dusting the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

The Filling 

  • 5 apples, Granny Smith, cored and quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 spoon ginger
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cups sultanas, almonds, or walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup toasted granola
  • 1 egg, beaten for the egg wash

The Bourbon-Caramel Sauce 

  • 1 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss the apples with the brown sugar, spices, water, and butter. Cook the apples on low heat until they are tender and fragrant. Turn off the heat and side aside to cool.
  3. Place one puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface, roll it out to a 9-inch circle.
  4. Wipe the bottom of a round 9-inch pyrex heat-resistant dish with softened butter, and line it with the rolled puff pastry dough. Trimm the excess dough.  Keep it in the fridge to remain cold.
  5. With a dough cutter or a sharp knife, cut strips of dough (3/4 of an inch) and twist them. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
  6. Cook the apples. In a heavy-bottom dish, cook the apples tossed with spices and sugar. When the apples are soft and bubbling, turn off the heat and let the filling come to room temperature.
  7. Get the baking dish out of the fridge, sprinkle a layer of granola to absorb the saucy apples and prevent the crust from getting soggy.
  8. Fill up the crust with the apple filling.
  9. Lay down, in a spiral shape, the twisted strips over the filling, starting from the edges of the round pan, until you cover the entire surface of the pie.  When you are done, place the pie back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  10. Brush the surface of the pie with egg wash and place it immediately in the preheated oven for 20- 30 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown and the caramelized filling is oozing in between the twisted strips.
  11. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Bourbon-salted Caramel Sauce.

The Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. Microwave a cup of a storebought salted-caramel sauce for a minute.  Add two tablespoons of bourbon. Turn off the heat. Let it cool.  Drizzle it on top of apple pie.

Posted by

Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here:

One thought on “Semi-Homemade Apple Pie & Bourbon-Salted Caramel

Leave a Reply