October 12, 2011

Apple Hand Pies

The start of fall means several things popping up on our agenda.  Rooting for the Florida Gator football team, watching the Phillies blow it in the playoffs (ugh), enjoying the perfect outdoor running weather, incorporating pumpkin into any and every dish possible, and picking apples.  Pick-your-own apple orchards don't exist in Florida, so we've become enamored with it since moving north.  After a lovely (but extremely crowded) afternoon at Linvilla Orchards, we came back with a box full of apples and a urge to bake.

I wanted to make a dessert that wasn't a classic apple pie.  While I enjoy pie, I wanted to make something a little neater, baked in individual portions, and able to keep in the fridge for several days (a pie wouldn't last long around here!).  I combined all of these ideas into one: apple hand pies!  Even though I'm a self-professed horrendous baker, these came out great- not the most attractive, but oh-so-delicious.

For the crust:
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup ice-cold water

Just in case you need a visual.

Combine flour and salt, stir to combine and to ensure any flour clumps are broken up.  Roughly chop butter into 1/4" cubes and add to flour, incorporating with a pastry knife or by crumbling with your fingers, until butter pieces are about the size of a pea.

Add the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring to combine.  To make it easy, add two ice cubes to a measuring cup and fill to the required volume, then use a spoon to add the water from the cup to the dough.  Once all of the flour is incorporated, do not add additional water-- this will just make the dough sticky.

Pat the dough into a circle and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes while you work on the filling.

For the filling:
2 small apples (or 1.5 large), peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (we used fresh)
a pinch of salt

We selected two apples (not really reducing our stock much..), one Granny Smith and the other a sweet, crisp red variety.  You can use whatever apples you have- regardless, these will turn out great.

After peeling and chopping them, we added them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.  I'd recommend creating the filling immediately before your dough is ready, as the sugar and salt brings out some of the liquid from the apples and makes for a drippy filling.  It'll still work, but definitely makes things slightly more difficult.

Once the dough was sufficiently cold (chilling it is essential for rolling and shaping it), we unwrapped it and rolled it out on a non-stick surface (using a Silpat, but you can just as easily use a floured countertop).  The dough should be uniformly rolled out, to about 1/4" thick.  Rolling too thin will result in tearing; rolling too thick will create a more bread-like crust.

We then cut the dough into eight equal portions, using the back of a butter knife.  To make these more visually appealing, I would recommend using a large, round cookie/pastry cutter to make sure the shape of the finished product is uniform (my lack of kitchen utensils may be one reason behind my poor baking skills).

Each of these pieces is then shaped into a hand pie.  First, add 2-3 tablespoons of filling to the center of the piece.

Dip your forefinger in water and add a bit of moisture to the edge of the dough.  Then, fold one side over to meet the other, sealing along the edges.  Holes in the seal will result in bubbling over of the apple mixture upon baking, so be sure not to overstuff.  Carefully transfer the completed product to a greased cookie sheet.  If you want to get fancy, use the back of a floured fork to add crimps to the edges.  Extra fancy? Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle coarse sugar on top.  As you can see, we don't really do fancy.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until dough is slightly browned and hard to the touch.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.  These are best stored in the refrigerator, and are good for 4-5 days.

The finished product was just what I wanted.  A bit of spicy and sweet baked apples, with a hefty dose of light pastry (the crust is my favorite part of any pie!), individual portions (super easy to transport if you want to carry one with you for a spontaneous snack/dessert), and so much neater AND easier to serve than a messy pie.

It reminded me of a cross between an apple turnover and apple pie (my fiance equated it to a TastyKake personal pie- I'm slightly offended).  I will definitely be making these again next time I want to make a quick, easy dessert- the ingredients are pantry staples, and you could fill them with whatever fruit you happen to have on hand.

Hand pie in the hand!


  1. Pinkie, pinky? somethings missing

  2. Yumm Yumm! Was that an intentional pun - that you could fill with any fruit you have "on hand"?

  3. Actually.. no! But that's pretty funny.