Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little Apple Pies

Today at work we had a going-away morning tea for our secretary, who is retiring (lucky her). I often have difficulty distributing my baking to the staff here because it is generally far too sweet. I'd been planning on making apple pie for ages, because it seems to be everybody's favourite and I think that being able to make a great apple pie would be a good skill to have. Thus the invention of these delicious little things. I had a look at several recipes online, including one by Paula Deen, one by Momswhothink and one by Cookingnook and they all seem pretty much the same, funnily enough. The filling part I could have guessed at and I'm sure it would have been fine, but one thing that they all did was dot the filling with butter before putting the lid on. So I have tried that, and I was going to try a new pastry recipe, but I was tired so stuck with my own sweet short-crust pastry recipe this time around. I made so much filling that I will have to make another, large pie over the weekend but I have modified the recipe below to make a smaller amount (perfect for, say, 20 little pies?)

Sweet Short Pastry

2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
125 grams cold butter
1 egg, beaten
A little cold water

Sift the flour, icing sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Cut the butter up into small pieces and add these to the flour. Then use your fingers or one of those wire pastry cutters to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. The wire things are good because the pastry won't warm up, but I find them quite difficult to use, fingers are easier.

Add the egg and mix, then very gradually add some cold water and keep mixing until you have a stiff dough. Press it into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for about an hour. When you are ready to make your pies, roll it out thin and lay it in your pie dish.

Apple Pies

6 apples - a mixture of golden delicious, granny smith and royal gala
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
Sugar for sprinkling

First, peel the apples and core them. Then slice them thinly, and chop the slices into thirds, so that you have nice small pieces of apple.

Place all of the apple in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour. Give it a really good stir, then leave it to sit for a little while.

When everything is ready, it is time to make the pies! For little apple pies like my ones, you need shallow bun pans (you could use muffin tins but they would be very deep). These days pretty much everything is non-stick, so you shouldn't need to grease the pans. Just press a circle of pastry into each hole (the circle needs to be large enough to cover the bottom and sides and stick up a little over top), then spoon filling into the pastry. If you want to, add little dots of butter to the top of the filling.

Now you need to cut more circles of pastry, these ones can be smaller than the others, just large enough to sit on top of each pie. Press the edges of the pie over and onto the top. Then whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl and use this to brush the tops of the pies. Sprinkle sugar of the top (and more cinnamon if you like) and slice a couple of gashes into each pie.

Bake at about 200 degrees celsius for about 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and the filling bubbling up out of the holes.

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