The individually sized pies are perfect for packing into lunches, or for when you’ve run out of clean plates. (It happens.)
The pastry and filling are vegan, so no eggs or butter needed.
(While my husband does prefer a full-on butter and lard pastry, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen around here anymore. Everyone else prefers this version. You can use your favorite double-crust pastry recipe if you prefer.)
One benefit of this pastry is that the texture actually improves the next day. It becomes noticeably flakier, so it’s great if you have to bake ahead.
The filling is surprisingly simple. The key is fresh apple cider.
What exactly is the difference between apple cider and juice?
In North America, apple cider usually refers to unfiltered juice made from fresh apples. It is usually a bit cloudier than juice, and has a more intense apple flavor. It can be found pasteurized or unpasteurized.
North American cider is ‘sweet’, which is to say n0n-alcoholic. Fermented cider here is known as hard cider (and has become hugely popular). In Britain and some other countries, cider often refers to the version with alcohol.
This recipes uses sweet cider.
The cider is simmered for 10 or so minutes until it has reduced by half. You then add some brown sugar and simmer again until it becomes a bit syrupy. Add a touch of salt, pour it all over some fresh-cut apples tossed with flour and cinnamon and you’re done.
If you don’t have access to any apple cider, you can substitute apple juice, but the flavor won’t be quite as good.
You can make the mini pies in muffin tins, or in Mason jar lids. The recipe yields about 12 Mason lid pies.
What sort of apples are best?
There are so many varieties of apples available these days that it can be hard to know what to choose.
For a recipe like this, I prefer apples that will soften up during cooking. In my region, older standards like Cortlands or Gravensteins are usually my first choice for cooking apples.
What’s your favorite?
- One batch easy oil-based pastry or use your own favorite recipe
- 1 cup / 250 ml fresh apple cider
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml salt
- 6 cups / 1.5 liters apples cored, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6 medium apples)
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml flour
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml cinnamon
- Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling over top optional
Bring apple cider to simmer over medium-high heat, and simmer until it has reduced to half its volume. This should take about 10 minutes. (You can check as it is simmering by keeping a glass measuring cup beside the stove and pouring the contents in. If it has not reduced enough, return the cider to the pan to continue simmering.)
When the cider has reduced to half, add the brown sugar and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. The mixture should be slightly thickened and a bit syrupy.
Add the salt and continue to cook for a minute or two longer. The mixture will bubble up when the salt is added.
While the cider is simmering, toss apples with flour and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
Pour the prepared cider over the apples and stir to combine. Let the apples cool. You can refrigerate the mixture for up to two days until you are ready to use it.
To make the pies:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C.
Fill a small bowl with a bit of water and put to the side of your rolling surface.
Divide the pastry into twelve equal portions.
Cut each portion into two, with one piece slightly larger than the other. This will be the bottom crust. The pieces may look small, but they will roll out to fit the pans.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch / 6 mm thickness. Line the bottom of the muffin cups or Mason jar lids, and fill will cooled apple filling. (The filling will be quite runny, but will thicken as the pies bake.)
Roll out the second piece. Dampen the edges of the bottom crust with a bit of water (dip your finger in the bowl of water and dab it around the edge of the crust). Cover with the top crust and gently press around the edges.
Turn the top edge under the bottom crust edges and pinch lightly to seal. (You can also turn the bottom edges over the top crust instead and pinch.) The goal is to seal the edges to keep the filling in.
Cut a small slash in the top of the pie and place on a baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining pies. (You can do this assembly line fashion by lining all the pans, filling all of them, and then topping.) Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar if desired.
Bake the pies for 30-35 minutes or until the crust has lightly browned.
Let cool slightly, then remove from pans to finish cooling. (This will prevent any leaked filling from cooling and becoming too sticky.)