About a million years ago, when I was in junior high, my semi-cool buddies and I would wander to the corner grocery store after school before the bus came. We would buy a snack or two so that we wouldn’t perish before we made it home. When you hit the same store every day at 3:25, you figure out what your favorites are and stick with it. Mine were an ice cream sandwich and a Hostess® fruit-filled turnover pie, a berry pie.
I’m still not tired of those goodies. But now we make our own little pies. It doesn’t take long to make little turnover pies. They’re easy. You can have them in the oven in ten minutes or less.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to make those little pies. These are made with a dough press and baked in the oven. But there are other ways to make little pies. You can deep fry them. You don’t have to use a dough press—you can crimp the edges with a fork. Or you can fold the dough up over the filling. Or you can use mini pie pans.
So let’s head to the kitchen.
Method 1: Made with a dough press and baked in the oven.
This is how we make them almost every time. They are so quick and easy. The secret to speed is a dough press and premade components: A just-add-water pie crust mix and premade pastry fillings (of course, you can make your pie crust dough from scratch and whatever filling you have on hand.) But with premade components, you just concentrate on four easy steps to making your pies: roll out the dough, add the filling, bake the pies, and glaze them.
Step 1—Roll and cut the dough: Roll the dough out until it is no thicker than 1/4 inch—a little thinner is perfect. Using the cutter side of the dough press, cut the dough into six-inch circles.
Step 2—Add the filling: For the filling, use either a fruit or cream pastry filling or anything else of your choice. Place a dough circle on the dough press. The dough will follow the bowl-shaped contour of the press. Place 1/4 cup filling in the formed bowl. Brush the edges of the dough with a little water to help create a seal. Using the dough press, fold the dough over to make a turnover and press firmly to seal. Repeat with the other circles.
Step 3—Bake the pies: Place the turnovers on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the turnovers to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
Step 4—Glaze the pies: Make a glaze from powdered sugar, flavor, and water. Add just enough water to reach drizzling consistency and brush the glaze on the tops of the turnovers while they’re still warm. A lemon glaze is perfect for most fruit-filled turnovers.
Method 2: Made with Mini Pie Pans
You can make pies in mini pie pans. You make these the same way that you make a larger pie. For mini pies, use the same amount of filling as one regular nine-inch pie.
There is a difference between a pie filling and a pastry or dessert filling. Commercial pastry fillings are firmer and more intense. The fruit is chopped much finer.
Which do you use? It all has to do with the ratio of crust to filling. With a pie, there is more fruit filling compared to the crust. With most pastries—including little turnovers—there is much less filling compared to the dough. Hence you need the more intense flavor of the pastry filling. And a pie you’ll eat with a fork so the extra juice is manageable. You’ll eat the pastry with your hands so the thicker filling may go into your mouth instead of down the front of your shirt. The finer chop is for ease of filling. The pastry fillings that we sell come in a tube. You snip the corner and squeeze what you need. In a bake shop, they’ll apply the fillings with a pastry bag. Whole cherries and large apple chunks won’t flow through the tip.
So, after that long explanation, I prefer a pie filling for mini pies made in pie pans because of the ratio of fruit to crust and I prefer a pastry filling in a turnover.
Method 3: Frying the pies.
You can fry pies. Baking or frying is a matter of preference. Frying makes a crisper pie but you’ll have more calories from fat.
We’ve included a recipe for little fried pies. This recipe happens to use fresh apples but you use any filling you choose. In this recipe, a dough press is not used. But if you have one, use it. It’s much quicker, easier, and less messy.
Method 4: Folding the dough around the filling.
You can fold the dough around the filling. Rather than being redundant and explaining the method here, we’ll refer you to the dumpling recipe below. (A dough press is sometimes called a dumpling press.)
You can make really pretty little desserts using this folding method. Instead of glazing them, fancy them up with a drizzle of caramel or vanilla sauce.
What You’ll Need:
Get a dough press. They’re not expensive and you’ll use it more than you think. One side is your cutter to cut nice round circles. (You can use the cutter to cut pizza dough and the press to make calzones.) When you open the press, it forms a bowl to hold the dough and the filling. Close the press and it crimps the edges together.
- If you choose to use them, you’ll need mini pie pans. And you can save a ton of time and make surprisingly good crust with a just-add-water pie crust mix. This is what the professional bake shops use.
- You can use a pie recipe to make a filling or you can use a professional pastry filling. The professional pastry filling comes in a tube. Cut the corner and squeeze what you need onto the dough. No mess, no fuss. Fold the corner over and secure it with a clip and save the rest of the filling for another project.
Fried Apple Pie with Fresh Apples
This is an old recipe that we’ve had around for some time. We made these pies with cut out dough circles instead of a dough press. We’ve left those instructions in this recipe but it’s easier and quicker to use a dough press. And you get a better seal on the edges.
For the filling:
2 cups diced apple pieces (diced into 1/4-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium bowl, mix the apples, lemon juice, water, flour, and sugar together. Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the spices and the butter and let the filling cook for another couple minutes. Set the filling aside.
For the crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons very cold butter
3/4 cup very cold water
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture is granular.
Add the cold water and mix with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Remove the dough to the counter and knead it just until you have a dough ball.
Roll the dough out until it is about 3/16-inches thick. Using a bowl as a template, cut five-inch circles with a sharp knife. Place a heaping spoonful of filling on each circle. With a pastry brush, dampen the edges with water. Fold the circle over and press the wetted edges together with the tines of a fork to seal the pocket.
Heat three inches of vegetable oil until hot, about 355 degrees. Slip the pastries into the hot oil one or two at a time allowing the temperature of the oil to recover after each. Let them cook for eight to ten minutes or until golden-colored.
Remove them to a plate covered with paper towels. Serve them hot or cold.
Tips for Success:
- The apple dices must be no larger than 1/4 inch else they may not cook through.
It is important that the dough remains cold so that the butter particles remain solid and not melt before cooking. If the dough does not feel cool, chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
- Make up at least most of the pies before starting to cook. That way you will not be rushed to make up pies while others are cooking.
- Roll the dough thin, less than 1/4 inch.
- Don’t put too much filling in each pie. If the filling tries to slip out as you seal the edges, you are using too much filling.
- Make sure the edges seal. Water brushed on the portions to be sealed helps the two layers stick together. Filling on the edges makes the pie more difficult to seal.
- The temperature of the oil is important to success. If it is too hot, the pies will burn before cooking completely. If too cool, they will tend to be soggy. A thermometer is helpful.
- The oil needs to be deep enough that the pies will be immersed. Turn the pies often so that any portion resting on the bottom of the hot pan will not burn.
This article was adapted from our free e-book, Easy Sweets. You can receive your own copy of this free cookbook with a click.
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