Caramelized Apple Pies

Caramelized Apple Pies

So I got it into my head that I wanted to make pies. Not regular, full-sized pies you eat by the slice, but the kind you eat out of hand. The seed was planted back in (on?) PEI, when a friend and I went on a 3 day road trip and stopped at the Handpie Company as soon as we pulled onto the island (I oddly love that they made handpie all one word) and ate two ridiculously delicious pies, stuffed half-moons you could eat straight from the paper bag, the buttery pastry loaded with meat and potatoes and other things. I know hand pies are not new, but somehow it was like a reawakening regarding the possibilities of pie.

Also, it’s apple time. I haven’t managed to make a pie yet. Somehow, these pockets seemed like less of a production.

Pastry + apples

So this afternoon I turned on the oven to make pies. (My new-ish oven takes forever to heat up.) I did some things, and did a bunch of editing, and made a porchetta, and made the pastry, and turned the oven off for a bit because it was getting hot and I hadn’t sautéed the apples yet. I like sautéing apples for pie, but it seemed a particularly good idea for these-cooking chunks of apple in a piece of butter caramelizes them, cooks them down so that they’re more concentrated, with less juice to release in the oven. You don’t need a shake of flour in the filling if you cook the apples down a bit first, adding some brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon at the end. And there’s nothing like cooking apples, butter and cinnamon to make your house smell delicious.

Caramelized Apple Pies 6

So I made and assembled the pies, and slid them into the oven. And about ten minutes later, something seemed amiss – I realized I had turned the oven off and not turned it back on. The pastry had completely melted in the oven, which had dropped down to under 200 degrees, and so I just left them in and turned the oven back on, and although their shape and edge is a bit saggier and less defined than they’d otherwise be, a couple opened up a bit and revealed their insides, they looked and tasted just fine and no one had any idea (or cared).

Caramelized Apple Pies 8

I imagined these made with sharp white cheddar in the pastry, or ground pecans, but I wanted to recreate the memory of that straight-up plain, buttery pastry with the apples the first time. When I ate one warm from the sheet, they brought me back somehow to those McDonalds apple pies, only infinitely better, and I wonder if it had something to do with a slightly more uniform, crunchy-edged texture from the butter in the pastry melting before it had a chance to set. Hm.

Caramelized Apple Pies 7

At any rate, they were delish. And it’s worth noting that just because you can eat them out of hand, doesn’t mean you can’t also eat them on a plate, with ice cream.

Caramelized Apple Pies


October 21, 2017



1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter (or half butter, half lard)

1/3 cup cold water

3 Tbsp butter

2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

1 egg, lightly beaten


1To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and grate or cut in the butter, blending it with a fork, pastry blender or rubbing it with your fingers until combined and crumbly, with some bigger pieces about the size of a pea. Add the water and stir just until the pastry comes together. Gather into a ball, shape into a disc and let rest or refrigerate for at least half an hour, or up to a few days in the fridge.

2Set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and sauté the apples for 4-5 minutes, until softened and turning golden. Sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir until the sugar starts to melt with the heat and juice of the apples. (It shouldn't be too runny though - if it seems to be, keep cooking it for a few more minutes.)

3Preheat the oven to 400F. Divide the pastry into 4-6 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece out into a 5-7 inch circle. Put a spoonful of filling in the middle of each, fold over to cover and then seal by folding the edge up from underneath, to contain any leaks. Crimp if you like, or just haphazardly pinch - they'll look and taste great either way. It's easiest to assemble them on a parchment-lined sheet, otherwise just move them over onto one with a spatula when they're done. Brush with a little beaten egg and cut a couple holes in the top to allow steam to escape.

4Bake for 20 minutes, or until nice and golden. Makes 4-6.


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10 comments on “Caramelized Apple Pies

  1. Christian Farrier
    October 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Those look delicious, Julie! I’m looking forward to trying out the recipe!

  2. Meg
    October 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    These pictures have my mouth watering! I think this is a recipe I will try for the Christmas season! Yum yum

  3. Jen
    October 22, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Julie, I am giving these a go – my first attempt at pies. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with the egg? 🙂

    • Julie
      October 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Ack sorry! Brush it over the top!

  4. esme
    October 22, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Warning: if I ever see you, I will hug you and not let go until you pry me off, because this recipe broke the bad pastry spell that some mean fairy put on me at birth. I have NEVER, not one time, made successful pastry until today when I did these handpies. Something about them being small and not pie-like enabled me to get the fortitude to try again despite my vow never to suffer another disappointment (that and several glasses of rose). Anyway, mine were buttery, flaky and super appley, which I LOVE. I see what you mean about cooking the apples first. It made them gooey and not runny at all. I ate mine with whipped cream because that’s how I celebrate breaking bad spells and most other successes. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I think you must be my fairy cookmother!

    • Julie
      October 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Esme, this is amazing!! I’m practically jumping up and down cheering for you from my desk! YAAAY!!!!

  5. Donna Mason
    October 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I used your “Out of the Orchard” book as I had taken delivery of 30 pounds of Ambrosia apples and there are only 2 adults in the house!! School fund raiser don’t you know.
    I made the Classic Apple Pie first. I thought the pastry was very short, a whole lot of fat for very little flour but I persevered. My adult children who come every week for dinner never like change very much and one of them said “I love your regular apple pie but this one was excellent.
    Next I made the Apple Pear Chutney. The fruit didn’t breakdown like my other chutneys but I have three bottles and we’ll do something with it
    Lastly I made the Apple turnover slab pie with the puff pastry. Well, that was sooooo easy almost everyone on the block has had one.
    So, I just wanted to thank you for so many ideas. These apple pies look great but you know this slab pie works so well. I also make your apple scones. My husband raves about them!
    Keep on cooking

    • Julie
      October 24, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Aw, I’m so glad! Thanks so much for your kind note – you made my whole week!

  6. Valarie
    October 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I put some chopped sage leaves in the apples as they were cooking, and it was just right.

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