The Gala apples with their lustrous skins exude a rosy whiff, beckoning one’s sensibilities with a Queenly aura. Armed with a measly bit of knowledge of such things, which one will later thank the Lord for, one conjures up ideas that envelop one like a trail of fairy dust. There’s the woodsy essence of cinnamon, of nutmeg, in that whirlwind, summoning the warmth of leisurely holiday breakfasts to mind. And the tartness of cranberries, bursting into an image, like a blimp, nearly, of the season’s radiant wreaths hung on inviting doors. The puffy, flaky layers of pie dough that will heave and hiss in the heat of the overused oven, the intoxicating smell of caramelizing sugar, congealing in the nooks of the pinch-sized treats even as one gets those mitts on, ready to heed the call of the timer..are all things one typically looks forward to. But on Thanksgiving Day, it’s a little more than that. It’s about playing one’s role as best one can, about bringing the family together over a comforting meal that gets doubly special when it ends on a sweet note such as this one, so there can be thanks sung for everything that is, just the way it ought to be.
2-bite Cran-Apple Pies
1 Recipe chilled pie dough (recipe below)
1 Recipe cran-apple filling (recipe below)
1 Tablespoon butter
Cream for brushing
Sugar glaze, optional (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350°C. To make mini pies, lightly grease the bottom and sides of mini or standard muffin cups. Divide the pie dough into 2 halves. Re-wrap 1 part and place in the fridge to stay cold. Roll out the remaining piece of dough on a floured surface until 1/4″ thick. Cut out circles using a cookie cutter or appropriately shaped bowls. Line the muffin cups with the circles. Heap the filling into the cup and place tiny pats of butter on the surface. Decorate the pies as described below.
Brush the tops of the prepared pie with cream. Once you complete making one pie, keep it in the fridge to stay cold while you work on the others. If the dough gets sticky at any time, cover and chill it for a few minutes. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool completely on a wire rack, and drizzle the glaze before serving.
To make lattice-topped pies, cut out 6 thin strips of dough. Line up 3 strips parallel to each other. Place a strip in the opposite direction, running it above and below alternating bottom strips. Repeat with the remaining 2 strips. Tuck the ends of all the strips into the pie shell using your fingers. Brush with cream before baking.
To make classic cut-out pies, cut a circle of dough slightly larger than the top of the muffin cup. Cut out a small opening using a cookie cutter. Place the circle on top of the pie and press the edges to seal. Place the cut-out dough on top of the pie and brush with the cream.
To make small hand pies cut out circles of dough about 4″ across. Place some of the filling on one side and fold the other over it. Crimp the edges with a fork and cut 2 slits into the top for steam to escape. Brush with cream.
The easiest option is to cut squares of the dough, place them in the muffin cups, add the filling and pinch the four corners together to make little pouches. Brush lightly with cream and bake.
Here are the recipes –
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ Teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 Tablespoons thinly sliced crystallized ginger (optional)
- 6 Tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces
- ¼ Cup of chilled milk(approximate, add as needed)
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process briefly until combined. Toss in the butter. Run the processor in bursts, a few times until the butter is cut into small pieces but is still visible. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, continuing the bursts, until the mixture holds together when pressed in your fist, but do not allow it to roll into a ball.
To make the pastry without a food processor, cut the butter pieces into the dough using a fork. Add the milk a little at a time and and keep mixing until it starts clumping together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and press together until it forms a rough ball. Cover and chill the dough while you prepare the filling. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge.
Cran-Apple Filling –
- 2 Small apples, chopped fine
- 1/4 Cup dried cranberries
- 2-3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon powder
- A pinch each of powdered nutmeg, dry ginger and cloves
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
In case there is any left over filling, pile it into a oven-proof ramekin, top with the remaining scraps of dough, bake and enjoy.
To make these pies-on-a-stick, cut 2 pieces from the dough using cookie cutters. Press a cookie stick or bamboo skewer into one piece, almost all the way to the top. Put some filling inside and brush the perimeter with a little water. Place the other cutout on top and crimp the sides. Brush with cream and cut out 2 slits for the steam to escape. If using a bamboo skewer, cover using aluminum foil while baking.