Ever since the arrival of Pon Pon three weeks ago, my life has turned into all things itty bitty – itty bitty onsies, itty bitty hats, itty bitty diapers, itty bitty burps, itty bitty (or not so itty bitty) poo, itty bitty time to sleep … you name it, everything has shrunk in size! And look, I’m even making apple pies in an itty bitty, individual size now!
I initially planned on making a regular-size apple pie, or even a French apple tart (Tarte de Pommes), but realized after I finished making the dough that I only had four, relatively small Fuji apples, which weren’t enough to fill the entire pie plate. So, instead of making a thin, sorry pie, I decided to make mini, individual size pies using ramekins as a baking dish.
Since the only thing that’s not itty bitty at the moment is my raging appetite (I hear that a body often mistakes sleep deprivation with hunger, which explains my recent urge to eat everything in sight), this is a great way for me to control each food portionl!
Making the Pie Dough
I’ve tried several different recipes but I found this to be my favorite one for a pie dough. The texture of the dough is not overly buttery but comes out nice and flaky! I adapted this recipe / ingredient measurements from the William Sonoma’s website but modified the process significantly, and omitted using a food processor.
Itty Bitty Apple Pie
(Makes 4 servings)
Pie Dough Recipe
2-½ cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and diced into small cubes
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup ice water
① Sift together flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter cubes.
② With a fork or a pastry cutter, mix the dry ingredients with butter. Try to break the butter cubes with the fork by smashing them against the bowl. A food processor is often used here but there’s no need to go out and get one if you don’t own the machine. Congratulations, you just saved yourself about $100.
③ Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time, as you continue to mix. This should add a little ease, as the dough gets more pliable. The mixture should have butter chunks the size of a small marble.
④ Knead the dough. Although many recipes instruct you to do this on a lightly-floured surface, you can actually do it directly in the bowl. (Less dishes to wash — yipee!)
⑤ Split the dough into two balls. Wrap each dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. You will only use one for this recipe so you can freeze the other for future baking (It should last about two months in a freezer).
I suppose you can half the recipe and only make one ball but I think it’s always nice to have the extra dough handy, in case you get surprise visitors and want to impress them with a freshly-baked pie or something!
⑥ Take the chilled dough out of a refrigerator and place it on a lightly-floured surface.
⑦ Roll the dough with a rolling pin. Don’t worry about rolling it thinly yet.
⑧ Fold the dough into three pieces, like folding a letter.
⑨ Roll the dough again with the rolling pin. Repeat this several time, for about five minutes.
⑩ Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate again, this time for about 20 minutes.
Making the Pie Filling
I debated whether to cook the filling first or bake it raw. I decided on the former since Fuji is very firm and I was afraid that apple slices would still be too crispy after the dough bakes if I didn’t cook them first. I’m really happy with how it came out – a perfect filling with a gentle bite!
4 Fuji apples, peeled and sliced in small pieces
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Juice of 1/2 lemon
① Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon juice.
② Cook the filling for about 20 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the apple slices are tender, but not mushy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for about one hour. It’ll be quicker if you refrigerate, for about 15 minutes.
Putting Together the Pie
① Preheat the oven to 425 degree (F). Take out the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly-floured surface. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Then, divide each piece in half. You should now have eight, equal size dough. You will use two (top and bottom) for each pie. Roll the dough into a thin layer with a rolling pin. The flattened dough should be larger than the ramekin.
② Drape the ramekin with the dough and press it firmly against the dish. Be careful not to tear the dough, but if you do, simply press it together and seal.
③ Spoon the chilled apple filling evenly into each ramekin.
④ Trim the access dough from the side with a small knife. I used a sharp paring knife. Press the edge tightly around the ramekin with your fingers to seal the filling inside, to avoid spillage during baking.
⑤ Press the rim around the ramekin with a fork for a pretty imprint.
⑥ Score the center of the pie with a knife. This allows the air to go inside the pie during baking and help avoid filling explosion.
⑦ Brush the top of each pie with egg wash, using a pastry brush, for a golden finish. Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of each pie. Place each pie on the baking pan and put it in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
⑧ Remove the pies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serving the Pie
You can remove the pie from the ramekin (it should slide right out, even without buttering the dish beforehand, if it’s still warm), or serve it directly on the ceramic dish. The pie will be amazing a la mode, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The filling is not too sweet and not too mushy – just perfect. And the crust has an amazing crisp to it. I know it’s not typical to use Fuji apples for a pie but I find this to be the best kind because of its texture (they’re nicely firm and crispy) and has the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness.
I know I’m two days late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Pi Day on March 14, to celebrate the significant of the number π, by eating your favorite pie! Who knew mathematics can be so delicious!