My husband and I are big fans of apple pie! Especially in the Fall. Especially when the holidays roll around. Well, especially ANY time of the year really! But my favorite version of apple pie is apple slices. You know, the kind that are square instead of pie shaped, normally with some kind of glaze or icing over the top! Well, I really start craving apple slices in the early fall. Because every year on Columbus Day, my family and I go to Royal Oaks Apple Orchard in northern Illinois (if you are from the Chicago area, I highly recommend you take a trip out there next fall!) It is one of my favorite days of the year because I get to spend it with my family picking plump juicy apples! It is always a day when lots of great family memories are created.
But there is one other thing I look forward to besides family fun and apple picking: Their delicious apple slices. Now I normally think of apple slices as being thin, square versions of apple pie with a little drizzle of a powdered sugar glaze on the top. Not so at Royal Oak. Their version is a thick slab of pie, bursting with tart apples and best of all; it is slathered on top with a cream cheese frosting! I’m telling you, it is so good, I always inhale a slice while there and then bring home several more slices to indulge in for the next few days!
So with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I really wanted to replicate this delicious treat for the holiday. I have to say, that I am quite pleased with my results. First of all, my version is much smaller than a normal slab pie. Even at Thanksgiving time, I would never have enough people around to justify making a full sheet of pie. And let me tell you folks, if I made it normal size and no one else was around to share it with me I would eat. the. whole. thing!!
So, my version is made in a rectangular 7 by 11 inch baking dish. My family of five and I can polish this whole thing off in about one evening and there are no leftovers (and my waistline is spared!!) Besides that, my version is thick and rustic, just like the orchard’s slices!
And best of all; this cream cheese frosting is heaven on a plate! Understand that I LOVE cream cheese frosting and think it should be its own food group, to be slathered on anything sweet and devoured on a regular basis! When I told a friend that I put cream cheese frosting on apple pie her reaction was, “Really? And that doesn’t make it too sweet? (Too sweet? What’s that??) In reality, the cream cheese frosting is less sweet than the apple filling so the frosting actually gives a nice contrast to the apples’ tart sweetness. I simply adore it and I know you will too!
So if you are looking for something new this Thanksgiving but something not too unusual to adorn the feasting table, then give these apple pie slices a go. If you are anything like me, they are bound to become your new fall favorite!
A note about the pie crust in this recipe:
Though you can certainly use a pre-made crust (I often use Pillsbury refrigerated crusts) for this particular pie crust, I used the Cook’s Illustrated “Foolproof Pie Dough” from “America’s Test Kitchen” Best Ever Recipe’s Magazine. My husband and I are big fans of America’s Test Kitchen and their affiliate magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. They do things RIGHT. I highly recommend becoming a subscriber to their magazine or website. It is well worth the investment. ( and no, this is not a paid advertisement. We really do find their brand to be valuable to both cooks and bakers alike).
- 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
- 6 large apples of at least two varieties (Granny Smith, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, etc)
- 2 TBLS lemon juice
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 2 TBLS flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 TBLS butter
- 3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
- 2 TBLS butter (softened)
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1 t. milk
- 1/2 t. vanilla
- 2 sheets of pie crust (use pillsbury refrigerated or make your own) When I make my own, I use the Cook's Illustrated "Foolproof" pie crust version. See below.
- 2 1/2 c. flour
- 2 TBLS sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 12 TBLS VERY COLD unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 8 TBLS VERY COLD vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 c. VERY COLD vodka (see notes)
- 1/4 c. ice water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pie crust to fit a rectangular 7 by 11 baking dish and fit it into the dish. Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the pie crust.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and place them into a large bowl. Put in the lemon juice, both sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with apples until evenly coated. Pour mixture into baking dish on top of panko bread crumbs. Cut butter into squares and dot on top of apple filling.
- Carefully cover with the second pie crust and form a raised edge. Cut several holes in the top of pie crust to vent.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 degrees, baking for another 45-60 minutes. Test for doneness after the first 45 minutes. ( I always pull a piece of apple through the vent and check for the right texture)
- Remove the pie to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting (at least an hour)
- place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a mixer until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Frost on a fully cooled pie. Wait an additional hour before slicing into it so juices can settle. Pie makes approximately 8 slices.
- In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 c. flour, sugar and salt until combined. Scatter butter and shortening over the top and pulse until combined and clumps are formed. Pause to scrape down bowl and sprinkle remaining cup of flour and pulse until dough has become evenly distributed around the bowl.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle vodka and ice water over mixture. Stir dough together with a rubber spatula until it comes together.
- Form dough into two large disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When dough is ready, flour a flat surface and roll out to the desired shape.
Apple filling and frosting recipe source: Two in the Kitchen
Foolproof Pie dough recipe source: Cook's Illustrated
About the Panko: This is used to soak up some of the moisture to prevent a soggy crust. You won't notice it in the finished product.
About the crust: The "Cook's Illustrated" method of making a crust calls for vodka. You may NOT replace this with water as the crust will not turn out correctly. I highly recommend subscribing to Cook's Illustrated because their methods are tried and proven and really are the best!