A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about her recent baking adventures and she mentioned that she had tried out a new recipe for caramel apple hand pies. The idea of this grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. I love baked goods that are easily portable because I can send them in Owen’s lunch. I also have very fond memories of the Hostess brand pies, with their syrupy filling and sugar glazed crusts. After procuring a couple of pounds of honey crisp apples from Walter’s Fruit Ranch on Saturday I was ready to try it out.
First, I looked at recipes. The recipes that I looked at used double crust pie dough for the housing and different blends of spices, zests and thickening agents for the filling. I decided to pull together the things I liked about each and also use up some things I had on hand.
For the filling I diced 3 large apples, which proved to be too much. I dressed the apple chunks with: the juice and zest of one large lemon, salt, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg. Then I added about 1/3 c. of buttermilk glaze that was leftover from the carrot cake I made last week. I stirred all of this together and then let it sit in the fridge for about an hour before baking.
For the crust I followed the America’s Test Kitchen recipe, with a few tweaks. The recipe calls for 12 tablespoons of butter and 8 tablespoons of shortening. I only had 4 tablespoons of shortening on hand, so I substituted an equal amount of butter to make up the difference (which is why each of these little pies is approximately 5000 calories.)
AND I added 3 tablespoons of sour cream to the ice water that gets stirred into the crust ingredients. Why? Well, this was also an idea I got from my friend Bridget. She told me that she had tried this method and her crust turned out flaky and delicious. The sour cream apparently causes some sort of chemical reaction that makes for a flakier crust. I had to try it. And it worked! This is probably the best crust I’ve ever made
I finished by heating my oven to 425 but immediately reducing the heat to 375 when I put the pies in the oven. This helped them to brown a little on top. After 40 minutes the pies were flaky and buttery on the outside with a moist, not too sweet, filling.