It’s way past Thanksgiving, but I did save the pics from baking the apple pie—Whew!
I decided that I was kind of tired of the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We weren’t having turkey, either, so tradition was kind of out the window.
As I know from many years of making apple pie, there are pitfalls:
- Sometimes the apples aren’t done by the time the crust is done.
- The filling can shrink away from the top crust as the apples cook within it. When you cut into such a pie, you think you’ve been cheated out of some filling.
- Sometimes the apples are too sweet or too tart because you don’t get to test the filling before it goes into the pie and make adjustments.
So this year, I cooked the filling first. In hindsight, it seems like a no-brainer. The best part of cooking the filling in advance is that you can do it the day before making the pie. You can also make the crust a day ahead so that the day of baking is just assembly and baking. I ended up making the whole pie the day before Thanksgiving so I could just eat on the big day. 👍
I found this terrific recipe for a Classic Apple Pie with Precooked Apple Filling. It also has what looks like a good crust that you might want to try, even though I opted for a different one. I used a combination of Granny Smith and Macintosh apples to cover both the tart and sweet flavors. I can’t imagine ever making another apple pie without a precooked filling.
For the crust I used the Foolproof All-Butter Dough from Cook’s Illustrated—it’s not the one with vodka. (There may be a paywall that prevents you from reading the recipe if you are not a member.) It’s a nice dough that almost resembles a puff pastry, with many flaky, tender layers, as you may be able to see in the photos. If you look closely at the slits in the baked pie, you can see the layers in the crust. We thought it was the most tender crust we ever had:
I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos of the pie after it was sliced!
Whatever you call it, the muffin tin makes it easy to construct, and provides a neat and kind of glamorous result. I have been thinking about hand pies lately, trying to come up with a simple method of making the packet without cracks and burnt edges and leaky fillings. If I’m going to make pie crust, though, I’d just as soon make a regular pie. So I turned to puff pastry for something just a little different, yet not your typical turnover.
I made the apple pie filling yesterday, so all I have to do is the construction and baking today, while dinner cooks in the slow cooker. While my apple pies are almost always made with raw apples, I didn’t think these would bake long enough today to cook the apples, so a precooked filling seemed like a better idea. I used this one from the New York Times, because it doesn’t add any liquids, other than a splash of apple cider vinegar, and comes out very thick, so it will be less likely to bubble over or make the pastry soggy. The apples in this filling—I used Granny Smiths, my favorite for pies—are not overcooked and mushy, so they will withstand more cooking inside the pastry. I diced rather than sliced them to fit in the round cups better.
I needed six 6″ squares of puff pastry for my jumbo muffin cups, so I had to roll out the two pastry sheets in the package to 12″ x 12″; that left me with two extra squares, which I cut up and made into Parmesan twists. Each lined muffin cup held about 3/4-1 cup of filling.
Baked apple puffs
- 1 recipe cooked pie filling (about 6-8 cups); good one from NY Times
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2.5 pounds apples, peeled and diced (I used 5 large Granny Smiths)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, each rolled into 12″ x 12″
- egg wash—1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water
- decorating sugar
- Cook pie filling ahead of time so it can cool. I made it the day before, then brought it back to room temperature before filling the pastry-lined cups.
- Preheat oven to 400°; butter 6 jumbo muffin cups.
- Let pastry sheets thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes, so it’s workable, but still cold. Roll each sheet into 12″ x 12″ square. cut each into 4 squares of 6″ x 6″—puff pastry will puff up in the oven, so perfection of the shape is not necessary.
- Line each muffin cup with one square, letting the corners hang over the sides.
- Fill each cup with cooled filling to the top of each cup.
- Fold over the pastry corners to the center of each cup. If your pastry has gotten too warm, put the filled cups in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before finishing, so the pastry is chilled when it goes into the oven.
- Brush the tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with decorating sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Mine were done at about 22 minutes.