This year for Mother’s Day I was faced with a dilemma – not a “what dessert to make”, but a “how to make a delicious and easily transportable dessert”. The thing is, we were set to take a trip on Mother’s Day weekend, and whatever I made needed to be easily transportable without the need for fridge storage or reheating, and easily consumable without making a mess. Out was anything with cheese or dairy. I needed something that could survive room temperature for a few days.
I thought of making a pie, which would fit most of the criteria – it can survive reasonably well outside the fridge, can be eaten at room temperature, but a pie is bulky, needs utensils to cut, and can leak filling. What if I made a pie that did not need cutting? A muffin-sized pie?
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large Granny Smith Apples
1/4 cups ice water
2 sticks of butter (8 ounces), room temperature
pinch of salt
one egg, beaten (for eggwash)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter the muffin tin and set aside.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup sugar and pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 stick of butter chopped finely. Mix butter with the flour mixture until moist crumbs form.
Add about half the water and mix with the flour mixture. Continue adding water until the dough sticks just enough to form a ball, and be careful not to overmix, otherwise your dough will be tough. You may or may not need the full 1/4 cup, or maybe even more (a lot depends on humidity, temperature, etc). You are looking for something that looks like this:
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour. This is a basic flaky pastry recipe that you can use for any kind of pie, quiche, etc. If making a savory recipe, omit the sugar. The quantity is sufficient to make two pie crusts and can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Core the apples and chop into 1-inch dice. I don’t peel the apples for cooking (they tend to hold shape better with the skin on), but I do wash them very thoroughly. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the apples until beginning to soften. Add 1 cup of sugar and vanilla, continue to cook until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a clean floured surface. My muffin tin fits 12 muffins, so I cut the dough into 12 pieces. Take pieces one by one and place them into the muffin molds, fill with the apple filling, and crimp the edges. Repeat until all the muffins/pies are complete.
When done, eggwash the pies using a brush. This will make them nice and pretty in the oven.
Off they go into the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Since the filling is already cooked, we are looking for the dough to cook through and turn a nice golden color.
Don’t be like me – pierce your pies with a knife or fork in several places before cooking to allow steam to escape. I forgot to do that, and a few of my pies exploded. Cool the pies on a rack.
Serve with milk, coffee, tea, or just in the car on your way to wherever you are going. No utensils required.