If you haven't noticed, we're in the thick of pie season.
It's funny how pies aren't necessarily seasonal but come November and Thanksgiving, they seem to take over social media and everyone's kitchen. I'm definitely a culprit. Sorry/not sorry.
Not sorry because I happen to be on Team Pie vs. Team Cake. There's a right time for cake (read birthdays) but more often than not I want pie. I think it's the combination of the crust and the filling. Something about buttery/savory/creamy/tangy/smooth/flaky textures and flavors all exploding in your mouth at once.
Cakes on the other hand are just sweet and soft. I often find them to be too cloying sweet and one-dimensional. I'm not the biggest fan of frosting either.
If I had to choose between store-bought pie or store-bought cake, I might have to go with the pie. But in all reality, the chance of me buying either would be extremely rare.
Homemade and from-scratch, always.
And of course, what is Thanksgiving without pie?
I've been making some sort of apple/apple cranberry pie situation for my family's Thanksgiving hurrah for the last few years. Each year, I try to make my pies better than the last. I have a good feeling about this year.
I made one apple pie back in October when there were some apples leftover from work. I was going to blog about it but my photos were bleh and I had some leaky filling problems. The solution? More tapioca starch. I generally use flour or cornstarch but I've never been particularly satisfied with the results. After reading, Deb's blog, I decided to give the tapioca a shot.
I tried again a few weeks later with these mini apple hand pies and they were a big hit.
I had a lot of extra filling and crust so I made a mini apple pie with only the top crust which I thought was going to be tough and chewy but ended up being pretty flaky with a nicely thickened filling.
I'm really going to try and decorate the top this year. I usually resort to a non-fancy top crust and last year was just plain lattice but I'll try to bust out something pretty for my favorite holiday.
So in an effort to practice making apple pie without actually making apple pie, here are these mini apple hand pies. They accentuate the crust because with a 2.5 inch cookie cutter, you only get about 4-5 pieces of apple in the middle. But, you can do whatever you want. You can make them bigger or fold them over, or make an actual apple pie or several miniature versions. Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be delicious.
Video time! Here's a little tutorial.
Can't view it? Here's the link to the video on Vimeo!
Don't be discouraged by the amount of steps needed for making these hand pies. You can make the crust beforehand or pre-chop the apples and squeeze lemon over them to prevent browning. And don't forget about the freezer! You can pop these bad boys in the freezer and then in the oven when you want a portable, piping hot hand pie.
Better than pop tarts or toaster pastries? You bet.
And even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Mini Apple Hand Pies
Yields: about 18 hand pies + a 6-inch pie or a 9-inch pie
4-5 apples, peeled, cored and diced into ½ chunks
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or other thickening agent)
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon water
Assemble pie crust and allow to rest in the fridge for at least one hour, overnight or pull one out of your freezer.
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Mix together peeled, cored, and diced apples, tapioca starch, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and lemon juice and zest. Set aside. Roll out one half of the pie crust until it is about ⅛ inch thick.
Using a circular cookie cutter (I used a 2½ inch one but you can use any size), cut out as many circles as you are able to fit. Gently remove the surrounding crust. On half of those circles, arrange some apples in the middle making sure to leave at least ½ inch of space all around to crimp the edges.Use a fork to crimp the edges and set on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Repeat with the remaining crust and apples until you are out of crust. Chill crust in the freezer in between sessions so the butter doesn't melt. (The hand pies can be frozen at this point until baking is desired.) Brush assembled hand pies with the egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the hand pies are golden brown and bubbling.
Remove to cool on a wire rack.