Weekend Project: How to Make Gooey Apple-Pecan Pie
Get the best of both worlds with this Southern twist on a sweet classic.
They say unless something’s broken, don’t fix it, but even though apple pie is a timeless classic, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a slight upgrade. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve had apple-pecan pie. The nuttiness from the pecans blends seamlessly into the sweetness of the apples, creating the perfect balance of flavors.
I was born and raised in the South so Georgia pecans (which account for a third of U.S. pecan production!) are no stranger to many of my favorite desserts and it’s actually less common to find traditional apple pie on dessert menus and dinner tables there. To cure some of my homesickness, I reached out to Shellane Brown and her mother, Veronica Pickett, co-owners of Apple Butter Bakery in Stone Mountain, Georgia to learn how to make their apple-pecan pie.
When the bakery first opened in 2013, Brown and her sister, Erica Houston-Pickett developed the menu using Veronica’s handwritten recipes she’d collected over the years, including the pecan-apple pie.
“My mom will use recipes that she’s had for like 20 or 30 years as a base and then experiment with combining different flavors to try to improve it or just make it something different that nobody has had,” Brown said.
Brown went on to explain that when she was growing up, her mother never made apple pie, but with a name like “Apple Butter Bakery,” they knew they had to find a way to incorporate an apple-like pie.
“It’s like a pecan pie but instead of so much of the ooey gooey, the apples kind of absorb that and it just makes it a really good surprise,” Brown said. “And so though we don't have a traditional apple pie, we can say that we do use apples in a lot of our products. It comes from an old classic Southern pecan pie. And then, mixing in what people wanted, which was some kind of apple form and that's how we got that pie.”
Saving time on the crust
I’ll be the first to admit I am an extremely novice “from-scratch” baker, so I was relieved when Veronica let me in on a shortcut to getting a quality pie crust: some store-bought pie crusts are your friend.
I used a regular 9-inch pie crust from Whole Foods and followed Veronica’s instructions on pre-baking it in the oven for five to ten minutes at 400°F degrees to brown it. Before you put it in the oven, use a fork to poke a few holes on the sides and the bottom to keep it from bubbling and shrinking too much. If you’re using a deep dish crust, she suggests doubling your pie filling mixture to make it deeper.
Making the filling
Veronica’s recipe for the apple-pecan pie filling has a fairly short ingredient list, meaning you can spend less time shopping for them and more time devouring the finished product.
First, you’ll gather the components of your pie mixture, which includes light corn syrup, eggs, brown sugar, butter, salt, vanilla extract and of course two thinly sliced Granny Smith apples. Be sure to mix these ingredients by hand and not in a mixer because that will alter the texture in a way that you don’t want.
Veronica told me a lot of people like using lemon extract, but she prefers vanilla extract. Either way, the choice is yours!
After you’re done mixing all the fun stuff, you’ll then pour your cup of pecans into the bottom of the pie crust before adding the mixture on top. Don’t worry about your pecans being buried underneath the apple goodness, they’ll rise once you pour in the pie mixture. Then pop it into the oven, let it bake, and set it aside to cool for a little before topping it with your favorite ice cream.
Recipe for Veronica Pickett’s Apple-Pecan Pie
1. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup, salt melted butter in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add two lightly beaten eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mixture and continue to stir.
3. Thinly slice two Granny Smith apples and add the slices to the mixture.
4. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of your pie crust. Then brown it in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 400°F.
5. Pour a cup of pecans into the bottom of the pie crust and pour the filling mixture over them.
6. Bake for 35 minutes at 350°F.
7. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Eat alone or serve with vanilla ice cream!