This recipe originated as a savory dish with a store-bought crust. I had a crust leftover from Thanksgiving, as well as leftover chicken and an appetite for buttery, flaky crust holding something delicious. I was so happy with the result that I started experimenting with the homemade crust and a sweet filling. After several highly successful taste tests, I am afraid I can’t go back now! I am definitely going to keep the original chicken recipe in the back of my mind for a rainy day, but for now – let’s focus on this amazing treat.
To go straight to the recipe for Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies, click here.
Notes about the recipe
I based the crust on a recipe etched on this board that we received as a wedding present, replacing the shortening with more butter. I‘ve also tweaked the proportions to make enough for 4 hand pies. Admittedly, it may seem like a lot of butter in the recipe, but it is so worth it. Shareable desserts – such as actual pies – are of course wonderful, but I enjoy indulging on occasion without being tempted by it again the next day. If that’s your priority as well, I have more dessert recipes that you can make as a single or double serving.
In the recipe, I tell you to mix the dough by hand. This may seem more daunting than using a spatula or even a food processor, but it’s worth the effort. This pie crust calls for a lot of butter, which creates that amazing, flaky, buttery crust. It is absolutely divine.
My husband’s great-grandmother Ruth Lyon Parker wrote and published a cookbook in 1983 called “Down Home Cookin’”. At one time, she was the owner-editor-publisher of The Prentiss Headlight, and wrote the “Kook’s corner” column. Some of the recipes in the book were sent to her by her readers, family, and friends. Some were her creations. One of her creations -her pie crust recipe – has a statement before it that I absolutely adore.
“God made fingers before man made blenders. I use my fingers to make my pie crusts. I have used this method for seventy-five years, ever since I learned to cook as I watched my mother as she prepared meals for her large family“
Every time I make pie crust, I think about those words. It gives a healthy perspective on the things we are able to do with our hands, and reminds me that a good cook can make do with even the least of equipment. It is more convenient, of course, to have the right appliances and tools, but it is also good to know how to do things by hand.
What is your favorite pie? Are you a pie maker as well as a pie eater, or just a pie eater? Let me know in the comment section. If you have any questions or feedback on this or any other of my recipes, you can find me on Instagram (@babushkacooking), Facebook (Babushka Cooking), or e-mail me at email@example.com.
From Kitchen, with Love –
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies
- 1.5 C all purpose flour sifted and leveled
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp white sugar
- 3/4 C unsalted butter, chilled (3/4 C=12 Tb=1.5 sticks)
- ice water, as needed (around 1-1.5 Tb)
- 1 egg, beaten
- brown sugar, for dusting
- 1.5 granny Smith apples rinsed, cored, cut in 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
- 1 Tb unsalted butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 Tb brown sugar
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
- cinnamon, to sprinkle on top
Prepare ingredients and tools
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Measure out all of your ingredients and prepare all of your tools.
- For the ice water: place few ice cubes in a glass with water, and have a tablespoon nearby.
- Melt 1 Tb of butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Pick one that won’t crowd the apples.
- Add cubed apples and mix well to coat the apples in butter.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, mix again.
- Continue cooking over medium heat and stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. They won’t be completely soft, as they will finish cooking in the oven.
- When finished, transfer them to a plate to cool down and set aside.
- Whisk together sifted flour, sugar, and salt.
- Grate the butter over it and mix using your fingertips. You can also cut it in very small pieces. Whatever you do, do it fast, so that the butter stays chilled.
- Add 1 tablespoon of ice water and mix with your hands until it comes together in a shaggy ball.
- If it doesn’t come together, add ice water, as needed, ONLY A DROP AT A TIME (sorry for yelling, but that’s important).
- If at any moment it becomes too soft and tears apart, place it in the fridge on a cutting board for 1-2 minutes.
- Roll between two floured sheets of parchment paper in a 12-14 inch square.
- Cut in 4 strips or squares – each one will be folded in half for baking.
Assembly and Baking
- Divide the cooled apples between the four pieces, placing them on one half. Leave 1/4-1/3 inch border for sealing. You may have some apples leftover – they make a great yogurt or ice cream topping.
- Fold the second part of the crust over the filling and seal the edges by pressing down tightly. You can also press it down with the tips of a fork’s prongs to create a more unique pattern seal.
- If at any moment the crust becomes too soft and tears, you can place it in the fridge for a couple of minutes. If it tears on top, it’s not a big deal, because in the next step you will be scoring the tops with a knife anyways, to let the steam out.
- Add a couple of cuts with a knife across the top of all hand pies and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, check for color. You want a deep bronze color – use the picture at the top of this post for reference. Let bake for up to 10 minutes more or until desired color is reached.
- When finished baking, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, sprinkle with cinnamon, and enjoy!