Mini pies should be the new cupcake. And by “cupcake” I mean, people should willingly wait in a substantial line to pay $5 + each for a delicious flaky crust filled with fresh fruit and spices.
On our trip to Maui this year I went to the mini-pie bakery of the future. Leoda’s Kitchen in Olowalu cranks out a wonderful spread of mini pies like Olowalu Lime, Apple Crumb, and my personal favorite Chocolate Haupia made from farm fresh and sustainable ingredients.
While I loved Leoda’s, I realized that fruit pies aren’t as readily available in miniature. What I want is a mini apple pie that has the perfect crust to filling ratio. I did a bit of research. If you spend any time on Pinterest, you know that you can make a mini-pie in a cupcake tin. I tried that once and it was fine, but the crust to filling ratio was off because the well of a cupcake is deep. So, next I scoured Amazon for mini-pie tins. I ended up ordering 100 3-inch rounds and 50 5-inch rounds. After lots of trial and error, I like the 5-inch rounds best because 1) you don’t have to cut the fruit so tiny and 2) it’s just the right amount of pie.
I like to make my pies over a couple of days because I never have enough consecutive hours to commit to a project. #weekendbaker
My schedule looks like this:
- Day 1: make the pie dough and and make the filling.
- Day 2: Assemble and Bake
Pro Tip: Pie dough must stay cold. If the butter starts to melt before the dough hits the oven, the pie crust will lose the crisp flaky texture. I have a couple of strategies to keep that dough cold:
- Crank the AC or in the winter- open some doors.
- Work as fast as possible to get the dough back into the refrigerator.
- Freeze the butter, vegetable shortening and vodka.
The Cooks Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust is my go-to pie dough recipe. When it comes to apple pie filling, I pre-cook my filling on the stove and let it cool before adding it to my pie.
What I love most about mini pies, is that you can freeze them! After they are assembled, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer bag. When you’re ready for a mini pie just put it in the oven frozen topped with a little egg wash. 45 minutes later you have mini-pie goodness.
- vegetable peeler
- lemon juicer (optional)
- rolling pin
- medium sauce pan
- 5 inch aluminum pie pans
- large round cookie cutter
- pastry mat (optional)
Brown Butter Apple Pie Filling
- 4 lbs Granny Smith Apples
- 1 lemon
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- vanilla extract
- splash water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 splash heavy cream
- Peel and the core the apples. Dice the apples into small enough pieces that will fit in the mini pie pans. Toss the diced apples in the juice of the lemon and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan brown the butter over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter develops brown flakes and has a nutty smell. About 5-7 minutes.
- Stir the sugars into the butter and cook over low heat for approximately 3-5 minutes, until the mixture develops a caramel look.
- Add in the apples, cinnamon and vanilla extract. The apples will release their juice, but if there is not enough liquid in the pan, add in a splash of water. Stir constantly and let the mixture come to a boil. Cook the apples until they are slightly softened timing will vary depending on how small the apples are diced.
- Make a slurry with the cornstarch and table spoon of water in a small bowl. Pour in the slurry to thicken the filling. Let the pie filling cook for an additional minute to activate the cornstarch.
- Remove from heat and cool completely before adding to the pie crust.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make sure you have room in your refrigerator for the cookie sheet. Roll out the pie dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use the large cookie cutter to cut out 24 6-inch circles.
- On a cool surface, roll out the pie dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use the large cookie cutter to cut out 24 6-inch circles. Working quickly, place circles in the fridge to chill until you are ready to set up the pie shells.
- Put a pie crust in the bottom of 12 5-inch round mini pie pans. Once you’re finished, let the pie crust chill in the fridge for 10+ minutes.
- Fill the pies with the cooled apple pie filling and then cover the pies with the pie tops. Crimp the edges, with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Return the finished pies to the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Take pies out of the refrigerator and use a knife to create vents on the tops of the pies. In a small bowl, whisk an egg and a splash of milk or cream. Brush each pie with the egg wash and place in the oven on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 450 and then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling. Brush the pies several times with the egg wash to create a golden brown color.
- Let cool on wire rack until ready to serve.