Mini Apple Pies

First of all, apologies! It’s been almost a month since I last posted a recipe, ridiculous! For those of you who have Crumbs and Sprinkles on Facebook, you’ll know that I have been working a lot recently… When I say a lot, I mean getting up at 5 in the morning and not getting back from work until midnight. Sufficed to say, I’ve barely had time to bake, let alone blog, which is very saddening! However, today I finally had a day off and not only have I baked my first cheesecake (recipe and photos to come soon), I am also finally able to post about the mini apple pies I made a few weeks ago! I asked my Facebook friends which recipe they’d rather hear about grissini or apple pies and apple pies prevailed so here they are!

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These apple pies went to work with me on a long stint so unfortunately, I could only manage a quick photograph of them in their tin before I went to work but I still think they look almost as good as they tasted! I used a basic sweet pastry recipe and filled it with an apple fruit filling that I added cinnamon to. The result ended in something very addictive… I particularly liked the depth of flavour of the pastry, I think the sugar added an extra flavour to it and the balance between pastry and apple was perfect. These were a lot simpler to make than I thought they would be and produced a delicious snack or dessert.

Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients

350g plain flour

200g cold butter

100g golden caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

2 capfuls of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon milk to glaze

1 can apple fruit filling

Cinnamon to taste

Method

  • Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar and salt.
  • Put the egg yolk into the flour mixture with the vanilla essence and stir with a knife. 
  • Add the water gradually and stir with a knife until it begins to clump together, then make a ball with it using your hands and knead until smooth.
  • Put the pastry in the fridge for an hour. Put the apple fruit filling in a bowl and add a sprinkle of cinnamon to it, stir to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C fan and roll out the pastry to about 5mm thick. Cut out circles to fit your cupcake tray (I used a shallow cup rather than a deep muffin tray to ensure a balance between the pastry and apple flavours). Place the pastry circles in the wells of the tray (I greased the wells slightly before doing this but I don’t think it’s always necessary).
  • Fill each cup with the apple mixture but do not over fill, otherwise filling will ooze out of the pies.
  • Re-roll the pastry and cut out smaller circles to make the pie tops. Dab milk along the edge of each pie, place the top circle on and seal each pie.
  • Glaze them with milk and stab the tops once with a knife so that a small hole appears and can allow for steam to escape whilst baking.
  • Cook for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Doughnut Pie! Oh yes…that’s what I said.

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So, recently I made mini cinnamon roll doughnuts and they seemed to be a rather popular blog post! They were also very popular with me; bite size, full of flavour, fluffy and fresh! My love of these mini delights got me thinking about how I could develop this recipe and make it even better. I’ve recently been watching ‘Unique Sweets’ and it really inspires me to try to make something a bit different. I saw one that visited Momofuku milk bar and they make some very interesting pies, such as the crack pie and grasshopper pie, they looked incredible. Hence, the idea for cinnamon roll doughnut pie! A shortcrust pastry crust, cinnamon roll sauce, topped with doughnut batter packed full of chocolate chips to give it that extra flavour and texture.

ImageI was actually surprised at how well this turned out and how addictive it was. The doughnut layer was a little thick but still fluffy and flavoursome. I think when I make this again, I will extend the pastry out to the sides of the case to give it that extra bite and I will put in more sauce to ensure that you always get a kick of cinnamon in every bite.

This pie was really something new that I’d never tried before and it was still so simple; give this a go!

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You can find the basic recipes for the sauce and doughnut batter here or here. You can buy shortcrust pastry if you wish or use any simple recipe to make your own, which is always better and more satisfying, I find.

As for assembly, I simply lined a greased pie dish with pastry, added a little semolina to the base, followed by the cinnamon sauce. I folded 200g chocolate chips into the doughnut batter and gently spooned this on top of the cinnamon sauce in the pie dish.

I then baked the pie at 180C for 20 minutes and turned down the temperature to 150C and continued to bake the pie until a skewer inserted into the doughnut layer came out clean. Don’t worry about the edge browning slightly but it shouldn’t burn.

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Pecan Pie Please!

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Oh I do like a good pie! I thought that my recent trip to America would have been full of them but sadly, it was not! The severe lack of pie meant that my craving had not subsided by the time I got home. Hence, the creation of this delicious pecan pie!

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I adapted the recipe for this pie from Mary Berry’s version and the main difference is that her recipe calls for brandy, whereas I use Southern Comfort. Pecan pie screams the south to me so I thought I’d try this combination and it worked wonderfully well! I use half the amount as well so as not to overwhelm the flavours of the pie but it still gives a kick of real southern flavour.

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The combination of flavours and textures in this pie is perfect… Rich and sweet from the brown sugar and golden syrup, brought back to Earth with toasted pecans and all surrounded in buttery, crisp, homemade pastry – nothing beats homemade. The coupling of crunchy and smooth textures keeps the mouth watering and wanting more and this pie only has one slice left – I’m sure even that won’t last long!

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Pecan Pie

Ingredients

150g pecan halves

30g unsalted butter

60g light muscovado sugar

30g caster sugar

125ml (or roughly 8 tablespoons) golden syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons Southern Comfort

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons single cream

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of grated nutmeg

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

For the pastry:

175g plain flour

90g chilled butter, cubed

roughly 2 tablespoons cold water

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Method

  • Make the pastry by putting the flour and butter into a bowl and rubbing the mixture between your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add enough water to form a soft dough and leave to chill in the fridge for roughly 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line a buttered flan tin with the pastry. Bake the case blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the baking beans and baking paper or foil and lightly brush the pastry shell with the egg white. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
  • Whilst the pastry is chilling, toast the pecan halves in a preheated oven at 180C, turning occasionally to avoid burning, for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and once slightly cooler, reserve some of the halves and chop the remaining pecans roughly.
  • Put the butter into a saucepan and melt on a medium heat until it turns golden brown. Add the sugars and golden syrup and heat gently until the sugars dissolve. Add the Southern Comfort, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, cream, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Whisk together the egg and egg yolks in a separate bowl. Whisk a little of the hot syrup into the eggs. Add half of the syrup, a little bit at a time, then add the remainder. Leave to cool.
  • Arrange the chopped pecans and pecan halves in the pastry shell, reserving some for decoration if desired. Pour the syrup and egg mixture over the pecans and place the decorative pecans on top.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 40 minutes until golden brown and set. After 25-30 minutes, you may need to place a piece of foil lightly over the pie to prevent the pastry from burning. Leave to cool before serving but you can reheat individual slices to have warm pie if you wish. I have a warm slice of pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the combination offset each other perfectly. Image

The Day of Exciting News and Pie!

Remember that I mentioned a couple of days ago that I had something exciting to tell you? Well it’s time to tell you! After years of pining for one, I have finally got a Kitchenaid mixer! I’ve wanted one for as long as I can remember and my friends and family all gave me money towards buying one for my birthday and Christmas so I’ve finally been able to get it. I ordered it for store collection but this was a rather stupid decision because I then proceeded to hug it all the way home…on foot…in the pouring rain. Yes, enjoy that image but it was not fun. It was all worth it though because it is now proudly being displayed in my kitchen. Of course, given my obsession with the colour, I chose an orange or ‘tangerine’ one I should say. I am so happy with it and it’s actually so easy to use. I got straight to work and made some meringues.

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  I’ve not made meringues before but have always been eager to try and having a Kitchenaid seemed the perfect opportunity to try. I used a simple recipe, whisking 3 egg whites and then mixing in 150g of golden caster sugar. I just spooned the mixture in balls onto a baking tray and baked them for an hour but I think next time, I may pipe the mixture onto the tray to make the mixture slightly closer together because there was a lot of room for air holes. It was amazing how well the Kitchenaid worked and how quickly it whisked the egg whites but then again, if you’re going to spend that much on a food mixer, I suppose it should be that good!

The Kitchenaid comes with three attachments; the whisk, the beater and the dough hook. It comes with ten speed settings but what I found was really useful was that it also has a slow start function so that it gradually builds up to the designated speed and therefore, avoids splashes and any flour showers. I’ll let you know more about the machine as I use it more but so far, I’m very happy with the purchase.

  I made a simple chocolate ganache and sandwiched the meringues together. The meringues were a little large for this so next time, I think I’d pipe smaller versions. They were still delicious; crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle and the combination with the smooth ganache was a nice touch.

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  Not satisfied with just making meringues, I decided to make a pie for dinner, a steak and ale pie to be exact. I used this recipe to make the filling but halved all of the ingredients and omitted the chilli powder. I then made a shortcrust pastry (using the beater attachment on the Kitchenaid) using 125g butter, 225g plain flour and two and a half tablespoons of water. I prefer pies that have both a base and a top as opposed to bottomless pies to just a puff pastry top so that’s why I chose to use shortcrust. The steak and ale mixture stewed in the oven for an hour and a half, which made the beef very tender and the combination of the ale and oxo cubes made for a rich and luxurious gravy. I even topped the pie with some grated cheddar cheese in the last few minutes of its baking to add a further dimension of flavour. The end result was incredibly rich and neither of us could quite finish our share but it also took a lot of will power to put down our plates because of how delicious it was. It was so nice that I’ll be making this again next week! I think I’ll add some slices of cheese onto the filling next time though. You should definitely give this a go if you like pies but if you do, put some semolina on the base of the pie to stop the filling leaking through and getting a soggy bottom as Mary Berry would say. I very almost ran out of pastry for the lid as well so I’d make a little more pastry too. I used Hobgoblin beer by the Wychwood brewery, which was also a nice, rich addition the complimented the steak well.Image

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