I know that coming up to Christmas mince pies are moreso the seasonal thing, but since I'm in Ireland this year Marks & Spencer will be providing those - definitely the best ones around especially the puff pastry ones with some fresh whipped cream. So as an alternative I am getting a stock of home-baked mini apple pies together, and my Dad always loves a pie!
I find bought apple pies always taste as if they have been made with sweeteners rather than sugar and leave a horrible after-taste in your mouth. (I am extremely sensitive to fake sugar tastes and really dislike any "diet" drinks or sugar alternatives in food. I also don't concur to this new fad of no sugar in anything. A year free of sugar challenge... I mean seriously - why?)
Anyway - these little pies are great with a dollop of sweetened Mascarpone on top. Also if you're stuck for time you can always use store bought puff pastry instead of making your own short crust. Christmas is a very busy time you know ;)
apple & brandy baby pies
200g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt
50g Butter, cut into cubes
50g Lard or White Vegetable Fat, cut into cubes
2-3 tablespoons Water, to mix
600g (approx. 8) Apples - tart ones such as Granny Smith
75g Sugar, plus extra for dusting
Quarter teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Grated Zest of half a Lemon
3 tablespoons Brandy
4 tablespoons Double/Heavy Cream
Make the Pastry:
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the cubed butter and fat. Using your fingertips rub the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water very gradually, stirring it in with a cold knife. When the dough just sticks together, knead it lightly until it forms a ball. Wrap it in cling film and rest it for at least 15 minutes in the fridge. (It can rest for up to two days, or frozen until ready to use)
Make the filling:
Peel, core and cube the apples.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy. Toss together and cook for ten minutes until the apples have softened and you have a coarse purée.
Take the saucepan off the heat to cool, then stir in the cream.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 3mm think. Using a plain cutter, stamp out 12 circles to line a 12-hole muffin tray and 12 smaller discs for lids. Line the moulds with the larger disc and fill with the apple mixture.
Brush the rim of each case with water and top with the smaller disc of pastry. Trim with a knife to make neat edges. Make three small neat holes in the top of each pie and dust with sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden at the edges. Allow to cool a little, then remove from the tin, dust with a little more sugar and serve warm with sweetened mascarpone.
Make 12 baby pies