It is the beginning of fall here and the weather is absolutely lovely. Warm days compliment cooler nights. Happiness compliments the rash of colours in the nature around us. But the icing on the cake is that Deepavali compliments Halloween! Indian houses here in the US are beautifully decorated with fall adornments and halloween spooks and the entranceways are bathed perfectly in the light emanating from Deepavali diyas.
Such joy to share the festival of lights with all the pumpkins and "Mohabbatein" leaves!
Most of all, this is the first Deepavali for our two month old sonny boy. I simply could not allow the festival to roll by without celebrating to the maximum extent possible amidst all the newborn chores and chaos.
My dear family esp the hubby abhors sweet food in any form. Except for the occasional Mysore Pak. The darling dotzy has only now begun to relish sweets but mostly prefers baked goods to the traditional Indian fare. Hence I decided to kick start the Deepavali food fest with the Apple pie. It falls easy on the pallette and is so warm that it automatically fills you with love. Adding a twist to the classic and making it less sweet suits our tastes. Baking a pie is like an experience. The whole house is awash with the wonderful smell, the taste buds thank us and is appetizing to look at. I love the crusty flaky exterior of a pie so much that I could eat just the crust and be very happy. Given a choice of a 9 inch pie/cake or muffin sized portions I always tend to choose the latter since its easier to store and gets consumed real fast. Size is inversely proportional to the want in our house. That is how we ended up with mini spiced apple pies!
The pie dough recipe in this post is a keeper. It is extremely flaky and has a nice crust without being hard. It can be used as the go-to dough for all kinds of filling- spicy,veggie, sweet, salty. The recipe makes enough for a 9 inch pie base and the pie topper. Alternately it makes enough for 12 mini pie bases and their tops.
Spiced Mini Apple PiesServings: 12 mini pies (standard muffin size)
Prep Time: 45 mins (including cooling time) Cook Time: 35 mins
For the Pie Dough2 cups All Purpose Flour (or substitute half Whole Wheat flour, I have done this and it remains delicious)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Chilled Yogurt (replaces 1 egg)
3/4 cup Chilled butter cut into cubes (can be reduced to 1/2 cup if desired)
2 tbsp Sugar (increase to 5 tbsp if a sweet crust beckons)
2 tbsp Chilled Water
Pinch of Salt
For the Apple Pie filling2 Gala Apples (the apple really held up well and did not get mushy when baked for 35 mins)
3-4 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder
1/3 cup Sugar
For the Pie Dough
- Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar
- Drop in the chilled butter cubes and lightly mix it into the flour till the mixture is crumbly. I used my fingers for this and it took around 5 minutes.
- Add in the chilled yogurt and mix. The dough should start coming around.
- If required mix in the chilled water one tbsp at a time till a ball of dough is formed.
- Do not knead the mix. Merely collect the dough to form a ball.
- Cling wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 mins.
- If refrigerated for more time the dough becomes harder. Allow dough to rest on the counter till it is pliable before using.
For the Apple pie filling
- Toss all the ingredients for the filling together.
- Do not mix it a lot in advance since the juice from the apples oozes out which could make the pie soggy.
Making the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a muffin tray lightly.
- I use a trick to make it easier to get the pies out after they are done - Place strips of foil in the muffin cup with ends hanging out. The pies can later be pulled out using the over hanging tabs.
- Roll out the pie dough between two sheets of parchment (to make cleaning simpler) to a thin sheet. I kept it at 1/5 inch thick but it could be made thicker upto 1/4 inch.
- To make mini pies, cut out rounds from the dough sheet around an inch bigger than the size of the muffin cup.
- Insert it into the muffin cup and lightly press against the walls of the cup to make a pie base. (It is easier to close the pie if the pie base juts out of the muffin cup.)
- Put in one and half tbsp of the filling into the pie base
- Cut out another round of dough which is slightly smaller than the first one.
- Cover the pie with this and press all around to seal the pie.
- At the point you could make the edges fluted or press all around the edge using a fork.
- With a knife make small slits on the pie top to help bake the filling nicely.
- Brush the top with some milk to prevent dryness while baking
- Bake at 350 F for 30 - 35 minutes till the top has browned and you can see the filling bubbling inside. Mostly you could go by the heavenly smell and know its done!
- Serve warm or cold. We like both ways.