I haven’t really explained my new year’s resolution too much on the blog yet, have I. I vowed to “fry more.” It was open-ended, and perhaps I’ve taken it a little too much to heart (and my waistline), but boy have my tastebuds been happy. See, “fried” is like my most favorite thing in the world, but I’d always been intimidated to do it at home. I wanted to get over that fear. And oh boy have I gotten over it.
Yesterday’s venture was fried apple pies.
With all those apples I got from apple picking, I’d made a slow-cooker applesauce that was so good, I was stealing spoonfuls every time I opened the fridge and eating bowlfuls for breakfast—and dessert. And then one night while having a late-night applesauce snack, it occurred to me that the texture was a lot like the interior of a McDonald’s apple pie—that rich warm apple mixture of my memory. (Given I haven’t had a McDonald’s apple pie in probably 20 years, this is all going on memory.) I knew that the pies at McDonald’s are now baked (a quick Google search tells me the switch happened back in 1992), but my happy pie memories were definitely fried. I had to try it!
I found a recipe for fried pies and I used the dough recipe, tweaking it to make it food processor-friendly. It was my first time using shortening in a crust—but I knew it would make the crust super flaky, so I used trans-fat-free vegetable Crisco, despite how much that stuff grosses me out. The dough didn’t really come together all that awesomely, so I think I ought to have added more water in the mix (recipe below adjusted to have additional water).
I rolled it out as thinly as possible and cut it into 3-inch circles. I assembled two rounds one atop the other to approximate a cute “pie” shape (I know McD’s pies are long rectangles, but I have a lot of round cutters, and that was easier.) The dough wasn’t as elastic as I’d have hoped, and they broke a lot in the assembly, even with only like 1 teaspoon of applesauce inside. Perhaps if it had been moister this wouldn’t have happened so much?
I fried them in the cast-iron pan in about an inch and a half of canola oil. They were fast to fry; the original recipe suggested 7–8 minutes, but mine were done in about 2 total. Straight out of the fryer, these babies were divine: flaky, soft, warm, and cinnamony. Later, at the party I brought them to, they were flaky and crispy but the proportion of dough to apples was a disappointment, as upon cooling the flavors of the dough became more dominant.
I’ll try this again, definitely (I still have a ton of applesauce, and I know I’ll be making this applesauce regularly), but I will try another dough. I really liked the results of this dough right out of the fryer, but I want to try something more elastic when handled, something that will allow for more filling to be crammed in. Maybe something more like pierogie dough? Anyone have experience with that?
Makes a few cups of applesauce, far more than is needed for the fried pies
10 apples, any varieties
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Peel, core, and chop the apples into roughly 1-inch pieces. Place in slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients, and give a stir to coat. Cook on medium-low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. (Or use a stick blender to blend, but I like it chunky.)
Deep-Fried Apple Pie
Makes about eight 3″ pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons ice cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons ice water
Homemade applesauce, preferably chunky
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to evenly combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the egg with the water, add to the mixture, and run the processor until a dough is formed, or until the mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer to plastic wrap and use that to further mold the dough into a ball. Divide into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat canola oil at a depth of 1.5″ in a cast-iron pan to about 350° F.
Remove one ball of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3″ rounds. Take one round and spoon about 1 teaspoon of the applesauce in the middle. Moisten the edges with water, then top with a second round, pressing the edges to seal. With a fork, press the edges all around, on both sides. Drop in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once, about 2–3 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining dough.
Suggestions for post-frying (neither method photographed, only considered in hindsight): Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar to sweeten them up. Eat immediately either way, and be careful not to burn yourself!