A delicious food trend sweeping the nation, headquartered right here on Capitol Hill? Thanks High 5 Pie!
I was going to suggest that you make these tiny pies to bring to parties because they are the cutest dessert ever. I was going to mention how they’d make a darling hostess gift, cementing your reputation as a thoughtful guest. But really, now that the holiday crazy season is underway, it occurs to me that you should probably just cancel those engagements and cozy up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and your very own tiny pie. It’s only going to get wilder between here and New Year’s, so why not spend a peaceful moment while you can?
These little guys are easy to make, but they somehow elevate pie to an elegance which it otherwise lacks. You can fill them with anything — see Dani Cone’s new book, Cutie Pies, for 40 great ideas — but I recommend the classic: apple pie. The Broadway Farmers Market is open through December 18, which means that you have two more Sunday chances to load up on sweet, crisp apples.
A word about making pie crust. It’s no big deal, but if you are intimidated by the very thought you can just buy it pre-made until someday you wake up—and you will, someday—to find that you’ve gotten your nerve up to DIY. If today’s that day, you could do worse than the recipe below, which produces a dough that’s fairly easy to handle and bakes up flaky and crispy. The rules are simple: if it’s too sticky, just sprinkle on more flour. If it falls apart, just smoosh it back together. Easy as pie!
Tiny Apple Pies
(Adapted from Cutie Pies, makes 16-20 depending on how thin you roll the crust)
- 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour1 tsp. salt
- 2 Tb. granulated sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp., but I like the crust sweeter)
- 1 c. (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ c. ice water
- 6-8 medium apples, mixed varieties or whatever you have, peeled and diced into ¼” cubes
- 1 Tb. cornstarch
- ½ c. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch salt
- Vanilla ice cream, sweetened whipped cream, or a cup of tea
Make crust by combining dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) and mixing well. Add the butter and smoosh it into the flour with your hands or a fork for a few moments. You should still have big thick butter flakes in the flour when you’re done. Next, mix in the water one or two tablespoons at a time, continuing to mix with your fork or hands.
When you’ve added all the water, you should have lots of big and little crumbs of dough. Lay out two squares of plastic wrap, and dump half the crumbs onto each. Use the plastic wrap to help you smoosh each dough pile into a thick disc, then wrap well and refrigerate for at least an hour. (At this point you can leave the dough in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a few months.)
When you’re ready to make your tiny pies, preheat your oven to 375⁰F. Make your pie filling by mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl (cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt), then mixing in the apples to coat them.
Take one disc of pie crust out of the fridge (it helps to keep the other one cold until you’re ready to use it). For each tiny pie, cut off a golf-ball sized piece and roll it out thinly to a 5 or 6” circle, using plenty of flour. Cone recommends rolling to ¼” thick, which makes a pretty crusty little pie. If you want a more delicate thing, roll your dough thinner (don’t worry, they will still be pretty sturdy once they’re baked and cooled).
Lower your dough circles into ungreased muffin tin cups, pressing them gently against the sides and using scraps to patch any cracks or holes. Trim the crust flush with the top of the pan. Re-roll scraps and use additional dough to make more little circles for the pie tops.
Fill your tiny crusts with the sweet cinnamon-y apples, then place the additional dough rounds on top. Use a glass or jar the same size as the muffin cup to trim the pie top to a neat circle. Use a fork to pinch the top crust onto the bottom crust all the way around, and cut some vents in the top of each tiny pie.
Bake 30 minutes or until the top of your pie is nicely browned, then check (by lifting up one tiny pie with a butter knife) to make sure that the bottom of the crust is starting to brown, too. If necessary, continue to bake, checking every few minutes and covering the tops with foil if they start to get too brown.
Cool the pies until they are easy to handle, lift them from the muffin tins, and serve. They also keep well for a few days and can be reheated by putting them in the oven for a few minutes at 350⁰F.
High 5 Pie is a CHS advertiser.
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Capitol Hill Cooks is a home cooking recipe series featuring ingredients, ideas, and recipes from the neighborhood. Have a recipe you think we should share? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org