How to Make Fried Apple Pies

(Plus other little apple pies you can make)

When I was a child, my grandparents–my mother’s parents, had a beautiful orchard.  There were peach trees, an apricot tree, a big pear tree in the far corner of the orchard that grew so thick and tall that it was hard climb—and therefore our favorite tree to climb,  There were plum trees—and lots of apple trees.

I don’t remember the kinds of apple trees, except for a big Jonathan apple tree.  My mother would wait until late in the season to harvest those apples, when the wind was biting and flecks of snow were swirling through the trees.  The cold, sweet apples were scrumptious.  She would gather her sons and we would pick bushels of apples.  I remember that our hands would get so cold.

She made applesauce out of many of those apples and some went into cold storage, the covered porch on the back of the house.

But she was a great baker.  She made apple pies of all kinds.  Maybe that’s why I love fried apple pies.  There’s not much that’s more satisfying than these apple pies.

How to Make Fried Apple Pies

This is a great apple pie recipe.  I’ve made many of them with a saucer as a template, using the saucer to trace circles in dough with the point of a knife.  I would then lay the circle in the saucer and load it up with filling made from fresh apple pieces and sugar and cinnamon.  I would add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pat of butter and fold the dough over, pinching the edges together with the tines of a fork.

I rarely used a recipe and every batch was maybe just a bit different.

It only takes a few minutes to fry them in a vat of hot oil.  The apples barely cook through, just warm and crisp-tender.  But the fried pastry crust is crisp and satisfying.  I like them best fresh, eaten before the oil or the apples has time to cool—through they are still good the next day.

A dough press makes them easier to form.  Brush a little water on the edges of the dough before pressing them together and they’ll seal easier.

I rarely make the pie dough from hand anymore; a just-add-water pie crust mix is much easier and just as good as my best pie crusts.

Sometime this fall, make these apple pies.

Fried Apple Pie Recipe

We’ve prepared this filling before in a microwave.  I’m doing it in a skillet now.  I like sautéing the apples.  I have more control over the final product and the cinnamon in the kitchen is delightful.

My favorite cinnamon for apple pies is Vietnamese.  It has three times the flavor and is much more fragrant.  I’m generous with my cinnamon.  You can do that with good cinnamon.

The Clearjel gives you a clearer slurry for your apples, instead of opaque and milky as does flour.

The recipe for the filling:

2 cups diced apple pieces (diced into 1/4-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons flour (or Original Clearjel)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cinnamon)
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Melt the butter in a skillet.  Stir in the flour or Clearjel to make a paste.  Gradually stir in the water to make a slurry (the same as you would to make gravy).  Stir in the apples, lemon juice, spices, and sugar. Cook for a couple minutes, just until the apples are still firm but starting to cook.  Add more water if needed.  Do not overcook.  Set the filling aside.

For the crust:

You can use any pie crust.  This is the recipe that I used for years.  It has just a touch of sugar which helps the crust brown.  Butter always tastes better than shortening but it’s not as crisp.  Again, these days I use a just-add-water pie crust mix.

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons very cold butter
3/4 cup very cold water

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is granular.   Add the cold water and mix with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Remove the dough to the counter and knead it just until you have a dough ball.

To assemble and fry your pies:

  1. Roll the dough out until it is about 3/16-inches thick, no thicker than 1/4 inch. If you have a dough press, use that to cut out your circles.  If not, use a six-inch saucer as a template for cutting.
  2. Place the dough circles in the saucer or in the cavity of the dough press.  Place a heaping spoonful of filling on each circle, no more than a quarter cup. With a pastry brush, dampen the edges with water. Fold the circle over and press the wetted edges together with the dough press or with the tines of a fork to seal each pocket.
  3. Heat three to four inches of vegetable oil in a deep pan until hot, about 360 degrees. Use a candy or deep frying thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  4. Slip the pastries into the hot oil one or two at a time allowing the temperature of the oil to recover after each. Let them cook for eight to ten minutes or until golden-colored.
  5. Remove them to a plate covered with paper towels. Serve them hot or cold.
  6. The apple dices must be small, no larger than 1/2 inch else they may not cook through.

Tips for Success

  1. It is important that the dough remains cold so that the butter particles remain solid and not melt before cooking. If the dough does not feel cool, chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
  2. Make up at least most of the pies before starting to cook. That way you will not be rushed to make up pies while others are cooking.
  3. Roll the dough thin, less than 1/4 inch.
  4. Don’t put too much filling in each pie. If the filling tries to slip out as you seal the edges, you are using too much filling.
  5. Make sure the edges seal. Water brushed on the portions to be sealed helps the two layers stick together. Filling on the edges makes the pie more difficult to seal.
  6. The temperature of the oil is important to success. If it is too hot, the pies will burn before cooking completely. If too cool, they will tend to be soggy. A thermometer is very helpful.
  7. The oil needs to be deep enough that the pies will be immersed. Turn the pies often so that any portion resting on the bottom of the hot pan will not burn.

How to Make Little Baked
Apple Pies

There are two ways to make little baked apple pies:

  • You can use a dough press to make apple turnovers just like the Hostess® little pies we knew as kids.  Make them just as you do above but place them on a baking sheet and bake them instead of frying them.

The following post, “How to Make Little Apple Pies,” will tell you how and give you recipes, a nice choice of little pies to make.

  • The other choice is to use mini pie pans.  A set of four mini pie pans will equal one nine-inch deep dish pie recipe.

When you make your apple pies in these little pans, the filling will balance the crust better if you super fill the pans—put enough apple filling under the crust to make nice domes.

A Choice of Fillings

You have three choices for apple pie fillings: homemade filling, canned filling from the store, and premade apple pastry filling.

I’m always going to opt for the homemade with fresh apples.

It’s easy to choose between apple pie filling and apple pastry filling once you know the difference.  Pastry filing is more intense, more concentrated.  It is intended for pastries which use more dough and less filling.  A pie has much more filling with relatively less crust.  A pastry filling, with its more intense flavors, is too much for a pie.  But a pastry filling is perfect for these little pies we’re making with more crust and just a little filling.  Canned pie fillings just aren’t as nice in these little pies.

We hope you enjoy making little pies as much as we do.  Thanks for your interest.

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