Making an apple pie from scratch is impressive, but making one on a camping trip is borderline legendary. If you want to really impress your camping mates this fall, then this Dutch oven apple pie recipe is your golden ticket.
We’ll start by stating the obvious: baking an apple pie at a campsite is a big undertaking. Without a doubt, a store-bought pie would be much simpler. But life is all about the journey. And there’s no journey in picking up a pie from the store.
This recipe starts before your camping trip. It’s much easier to prepare the pie crust dough at home. The butter should be as cold as possible before kneading it into the flour, so it’s best to take it directly out of the refrigerator. The dough makes a bit of a mess, so having access to running water is nice for cleanup. Finally, the dough should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for at least an hour, but up to a week, before baking. Right before you head out on your camping trip, place the dough in your cooler and keep it cool until you’re ready for it.
Once you’re at the campsite, the trick to this recipe is to start early. Don’t wait until dinner is over to start thinking about dessert. Pies need time to cool down anyway, so get a start on it early. Give yourself at least two hours of a head start.
The biggest trick we learned while testing this recipe was to create parchment paper straps (folded long strips of parchment paper) to lift the pie out of the Dutch oven. It’s also important to line the bottom with parchment paper; otherwise, the sugars will caramelize and stick to the cast iron.
Peeling, de-coring, and slicing the apples isn't too tricky, but the process does take some time. Be sure to bring along a bowl big enough to mix the apples together with the sugar, cinnamon and butter.
On a well-floured cutting board, divide the dough in half and roll each one out. Aim for slightly larger than your Dutch oven. Place the first layer of dough inside, pour the apple filling on top, and then cover with the second layer of dough. Be sure to cut slits to allow steam to vent out.
For the coals, you’re aiming to bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For our 10-inch Dutch oven, that means 21 coals on top and 7 coals on the bottom. In order to maintain temperature, the coals might need to be replenished midway through the process. It’s also a good idea to rotate the lid and/or the Dutch oven periodically to ensure even heating.
When the pie is looking golden and delicious, remove from the heat and lift the pie out using the straps. If your campmates haven’t already gathered around in wild anticipation yet, they will. Slice it up and enjoy. You’ve earned it!
Dutch Oven Apple Pie
- 4 medium apples
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 recipe pie dough (below)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks of butter (10 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons of ice water
Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut butter into ½ inch chunks and knead them into the flour until shaggy. Add water and continue kneading until it comes together into a ball. Divide in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate.
- Light 28 coals to preheat. They are ready once they start to turn ashy in spots.
2. Peel, core and slice apples. Place in a bowl. Chop butter into ½ inch chunks and add to bowl. Sprinkle in cinnamon and sugar. Separately, combine 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add to bowl and toss.
3. Fold long sections of parchment paper into straps. Place along the bottom of the Dutch oven in a perpendicular pattern. Using the lid as a template, cut out a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of your Dutch oven. Place the circle of parchment paper over the straps.
4. On a floured cutting board, roll out one disk of dough. Using the lid as a template, shave off extra dough. Place on the parchment paper. The dough should extend about 1 inch up the side of the Dutch oven.
5. Pour apple mixture over the dough. Make sure apples lay relatively flat.
6. Roll out another piece of dough in a rough circle. Place on top of the apple mixture. Crimp any excess dough around the edge.
7. Cut slits in the top of the dough, toward the center, to allow steam to release.
8. Bake in the Dutch oven at around 350 degrees for an hour, placing 7 coals under the Dutch oven and 21 coals on the lid. Coals may need to be replenished midway through the baking process in order to maintain temperature.
9. Remove from Dutch oven using the parchment paper straps. Allow the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes. Slice and serve.