The crust on these apple pies are absolutely perfect; buttery and flaky, just the way I like it! This is actually the first time that I’ve made pie crust in…oh…about four years. Can you believe that? I’ve always just been terrified of making it! I made it one time my freshman year of college and it was such a disaster that I never attempted it again, despite the fact that Kramer begged and pleaded with me constantly to give it a try. At last, I put aside my fears and attempted to make a delicious pie crust. I read a lot about what makes a good pie crust before I got into the kitchen, and the one thing I learned is that everything, and I mean everything, has to be as cold as possible. I put all of my crust ingredients in the refrigerator prior to baking, even the flour, vinegar, and shortening. I made sure to work quickly and to let my dough sit in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, although from what I understand, overnight is best (but I rarely have the ability to plan that far in advance). When it was time to roll out my dough, my dream of the perfect crust seemed just beyond the horizon – it rolled out nicely and without too much trouble sticking to my rolling pin or to my counter. I made mini-apple pies, but I’m sure that this crust would make a lovely full sized pie, so I plan to use it for my pumpkin pie tomorrow on Thanksgiving. The filling for these pies is an entirely different story, though. While the crust is buttery and flaky, the filling is gooey and caramely, while still bursting with fresh apple flavor. I added a generous amount of brown sugar, because, let’s face it, I’m not counting calories when I’m having a piece of pie! I also threw in some toffee bits, which is something my dad always did when I lived at home and I feel compelled to carry on that tradition. I read somewhere to add a bit of lemon extract to add a little extra zing to the pie, and while I think it definitely brightened things up, it’s not necessary, as the real star are the apples and they shine all on their own. I brought these into work and they were all gone by the end of the day, which always makes me happy! You will be sure to gleam with pride when serving these adorable little pies any time, but especially on Thanksgiving!
Let’s begin with the crust. I put all of these ingredients in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to starting, including the flour, vinegar, and shortening. The colder, the better. Nothing should be room temperature!
Add in the water and vinegar (I just continued to use my hands) and form the dough into two balls. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and allow to sit in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as 24 hours. I let mine hang out in the fridge for just over 3 hours.
Now lift up two ends of the three lattice pieces and place one strip underneath them (alternately, you can lift the middle strip and lay the strip under that, but I find this way easier than having to lift up the two pieces for the middle…you’ll see what I mean).
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
- ⅔ cup shortening, COLD (NOT room temperature)
- ⅔ cup ice water, plus more as needed (I just used water from my Brita pitcher)
- 4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
- raw sugar (for sprinkling, optional)
- 5 large apples, diced very finely
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅓ cup toffee bits
- juice of half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Place the flour mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes or so (I put mine in there for 30 minutes). When ready, take the flour out of the bowl and add in the chopped pieces of COLD butter and COLD shortening. Blend together with your hands until you have coarse crumbs (it doesn’t have to be perfect). You can use a pastry cutter, but I find that a clean pair of hands work best. Place the dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so, so it stays cold.
- Mix together the water and vinegar in a small bowl. When ready, slowly drizzle it over the dough, a tablespoon or so at a time, gently stirring the mixture with a fork, until fully incorporated. It might seem a bit too wet at this point, but it will dry up while it sits in the fridge. Form the dough gently into 2 loose balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as overnight.
- Make your filling when you are almost ready to use your dough. Peel, core, and finely dice your apples to very small pieces, otherwise known as a brunoise. Toss them with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, allspice, ginger, toffee bits, lemon juice, and lemon extract, if you’re using it. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. When you are ready to roll out your dough, bring one ball out of the fridge and flour your work surface, your hands, and your rolling pin (if you don’t have a rolling pin, use a cold wine bottle – it’ll help your dough stay cold, anyway). Divide one of your balls in half and foll out gently, going in one direction, until the dough is about one or two centimeters thick. Using a glass or a cookie cutter, cut the dough out into appropriate sized circle for your muffin pan (I used a mini-muffin pan), and use your finger to stretch the dough out a bit as needed. Press into a lightly greased muffin pan and work until half of your total dough is gone (you will need the other half for the lattice tops).
- Fill your pies with the apple filling. Make the lattice tops by cutting out the same sized circles as you did for the crust, then slice the circles thinly, and layer them in alternating layers (see photos above) for the lattice tops. You can also just close them up with a regular top crust, but I found that to be overwhelming on such small pies. Pinch the corners together so that the lattice top sticks to the crust, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little raw sugar, if you like. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 10-12 minutes, until the crusts are golden and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pans. Makes 40 mini-pies with lattice tops.