What’s better than apple pie? A personal-sized apple pie that you don’t have to share.
October 23, 2020
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I'm a self-taught baker, recipe developer, and food photographer who works as a digital strategist by day in the concrete jungle of New York City. Aside from a never ending supply of baked goods, my Brooklyn apartment also houses two cats and my personal taste-tester (boyfriend).
Apple Hand Pies
Ever since I was little pie has been my favorite dessert. I was absolutely obsessed with any and every pie growing up. I even worked at a pie bakery for four years in high school! Talk about a dream job. While I was there I got to learn the ins and outs of making all sorts of pies — fruit pies, cream pies, savory pies… you name it, I made it. Every customer had their favorites of course, but for me, nothing came close to a classic apple pie. I mean, is there really anything better than a warm slice of apple pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream?
With a salty, buttery, flaky crust and a sticky, sweet, spiced apple filling, I truly can’t imagine a more perfect fall dessert. This year though, coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine has really changed fall in Brooklyn for me (and everyone). I can’t really justify making a whole apple pie for a household of two, but I’m not willing to give up my favorite fall dessert either.
Enter: the apple hand pie. Whoever first thought of making personal-sized versions of pie is a true genius, and I owe you my gratitude. If you’ve never made a pie from scratch before, this is a perfect intro. This recipe involves making pie dough from scratch (not as scary as you think!), but you can totally buy premade pie crust from the store if you’d rather.
Tips for Making Apple Hand Pies
Use cold butter. The key to making pie dough is making sure your ingredients are cold. Using extra cold butter and shortening is crucial, because we want that butter to stay solid and melt in the oven, creating flaky layers. You can even go a step further and chill your flour and mixing bowl if you want!
Chill your dough. All the rolling out, cutting, and shaping of this dough can warm up our butter, so make sure you don’t skip the chill time outlined in the recipe.
Use a variety of apples. I like to use a mixture of granny smith (something firmer for structure) and honeycrisp (sweet and flavorful). You don’t have to use my same mixture, but I do believe that using a variety of apples leads to a better, more complex flavor in your filling.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, butter and Crisco (cut into small cubes). Toss the butter and Crisco in the flour to coat evenly, and then cut it in with your fingers. Continue to cut and mix the butter and Crisco until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with chunks the size of peas and almonds.
Slowly add the ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, fluffing the mixture with your hands. Once the dough just holds together, form it into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Make the Filling
In a large bowl, add apples (peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces), both sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt. Toss to evenly coat the apples, set aside.
In a large pot, add the butter and melt on medium heat. Add the apple mixture to the melted butter and cook gently on medium heat until the sugars are melted and the apples feel tender but not mushy (about ten minutes).
Once apples feel tender, remove from the heat and let cool completely.
While the filling continues to cool, roll out your pie dough to about 1/4-inch. Cut into circles about 6-inches in diameter, and lay onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the dough from the fridge and begin assembly. Spoon 1-2 heaping spoonfulls of the filling onto the center of each circle of dough.
Take one egg and beat in a small bowl. Brush a thin layer of the egg onto the perimeter of each circle of dough. Fold one side of the dough onto the other to create a semi-circle and press lightly with your fingers.
Crimp the sides of the dough to seal. Alternatively, you can use a fork and gently press the prongs to seal the seam. With a sharp knife, make a 1-inch slit on the top of each hand pie. This will let the steam vent while the pies bake and avoid the filling from bursting out of the seams.
Brush the tops of the hand pies with a layer of egg wash, and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until the crust looks golden).