Start to Finish: 1 hour Servings 6 Difficulty: Moderate
It's tough to improve on a classic -- unless you deep-fry it. Old-fashioned fried apple pies pack the same generous dose of Americana as their baked brethren but elevate it with a flaky, golden-brown crust. Homemade shortcrust pastry and moderately sweet, firm apples are key here, so go all the way with the old-fashioned formula: use shortening in the crust and source the apples from a local farmer, if possible.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons shortening, chilled
- 1/4 cup water, cold
- 1 cup apple cider or juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- 2 pounds Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil
- Powdered sugar
- Deep cast-iron pan or Dutch oven
- Deep-frying thermometer or candy thermometer
- Spider skimmer or slotted spoon
Make the Crust and Prepare the Filling
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour, using a pastry cutter or fork.
Add the cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is pliable enough to form a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Mix the apple cider or juice and granulated sugar in a saucepan. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and a pinch of salt. Simmer the cider until it reduces by half.
Mix the apples, lemon juice, lemon zest in a mixing bowl and add them to the saucepan. Turn the heat to "Low" and simmer until the apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Set the apple filling aside.
Fill and Fry
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 5- or 6-inch rounds, using a saucer as a guide.
Brush the edges of each dough round with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1/4 cup of filling on half of each round.
Fold the rounds over to form the pies and seal the edges with the tines of a fork.
Fill a cast-iron frying pan or Dutch oven with 6 to 8 inches of vegetable oil. Set it over medium heat on the stove and heat it until it reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lower 2 or 3 pies into the oil, using a slotted spoon or spider. Fry the apple pies until golden brown, about 6 minutes each side. Retrieve the pies with the slotted spoon or spider and set them on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot.
Keep the diced apples fresh. After dicing, place the apples in a bowl of cold water.
Need a shortcut or variation on the old-fashioned crust? Substitute prepared biscuit dough or frozen puff pastry. Both are easy to work with and fry to a flaky finish.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.