There’s nothing better than classic apple pie, unless it’s having one all to yourself! These little individual pies are big on flavor, and their sweet, buttery pastry crusts bake to golden perfection.
I return to this time-honored classic for every kind of occasion, but I especially enjoy making it on patriotic holidays. It somehow feels reverent and dignified, having an apple pie on our buffet on Memorial Day or July 4th. Its origins lie across the pond, but it has become an American symbol, perfected by the hands of our predecessors and steeped in tradition.
Individual desserts have always felt special to me, so I decided this year we’d all have our own little apple pie. The apple filling formula is pretty standard and easy to mix up, but the crust recipe is different from regular pie crust. I learned to make pate in pastry class, and I’ve found it holds up well to nearly any type of juicy pie filling – and it’s perfect for mini pies!
A food processor makes quick work of forming the dough and it helps keep it cool, as warm hands will melt the cold butter pieces dispersed throughout the dough. Once processed, it will need to rest 30 minutes before rolling. I used a large pastry cutter to stamp dough rounds from the pastry, but you could also flip over your mini pie pans and trim around them 1″ larger than the pan rims.
These little pies will need to be vented, and you could do so by cutting a slit in the tops of the pies, but I wanted to make these extra-cute for our holiday.
A reinforced vent hole can be made with two small, nesting cookie cutters. To do this, first cut a circle from the rolled pastry for a top crust; set aside. Then, use the larger cutter to stamp a shape from the rolled pastry (here, a star). Lay it on the top center of the circle. Use the smallest cutter to cut a vent hole through the stamped shape and pastry round. Now you’re ready to top a pie!
After fluting the edges of the pie crusts together, cover the pies with egg wash using a pastry brush and immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar. This makes the top crust golden brown and crunchy!
The thyme in my little herb planter is full of twisty green sprigs, so I added a pinch of chopped fresh thyme to the pie filling. This is optional, but I really love the flavor.
I’m serving these pies directly from the little glass pans they were baked in. You can find the pans I used , if you’re looking for a set of your own.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday weekend!
Yields about eight 5-inch pies
For 8 pies, make two batches of pastry crust, or you can halve the pie filling recipe and make just one batch of pate 4 pies.
2 cups (10oz/284g) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
7/8 cup (14 tablespoons/198g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup (3.5 oz./100g) fine granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, slightly beaten
Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter on top of the flour and pulse repeatedly in short bursts until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the vanilla and egg and pulse until the mixture forms a ball to one side of the bowl. Remove the dough and flatten into a circle. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before use.
Apple pie filling
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (106g) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 large, tart, firm apples, thinly sliced (tested with Granny Smith)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a small bowl, combine the sugars, flour and spices; set aside. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat.
Assemble the pies
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water)
Coarse crystal sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface using a floured rolling pin. Cut 7-inch rounds from the dough and fit inside the pie pans. Fill each pie with the apple filling until heaping. Gather the dough and re-roll to 1/4-inch thickness.
Cut more pastry rounds to fit the top of each pie. Cut a vent in the center of each pie using a small cookie cutter (or cut 3 slits in the top of the pie using a paring knife). Top the pie with the crust and press edges of the crusts together and flute. Brush pies with egg wash then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake the pies for 15-17 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden brown.
Allow pies cool before serving, or serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream on top.