The Best Little Apple Pies

What do you do when you get carried away on an apple picking spree and return with more apples than you know what to do with? You make a lot of apple pies! That's what I did this weekend in preparation for my annual Fall backyard bonfire shindig.

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Every Autumn as the temperatures dip, we have a few friends over for a backyard bonfire. The kids love playing in the dried leaves and gathering wood for the fire. And as the evening temperatures dip, we wrap up in blankets, drink hot cider, munch on treats and sing songs around the fire. My individual apple pies in muffin tins are always a big hit at our our annual bonfire get together. And topped off with a lattice work crust, I can proudly say that these mini apple tartlets are the apple of everyone's eye.

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However, I won't lie. Compared to one large pie, it is slightly more work to make multiple little apple pies, particularly since I want to make them really pretty and make apple pies with a criss cross top. So, to keep things simple and save time, I use store bought pie crusts and then devote a little extra time to making the lattice pie crust designs


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So pretty and a real snap to make. Follow my step-by-step, time saving tips below to learn how to make a woven pie crust using Pillsbury pie crusts for these delightful miniature apple pies in muffin tins or cupcake pans.

The recipe for the mini apple tartlets is at the end of this post.


Best Apple Pie Filling

For the best apple pie filling ever, you just require a few simple and very fresh ingredients: Crispy apples, brown sugar, lime juice, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg powder.


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Ingredients for homemade apple pie filling

1. Use fresh, crisp apples

I love tart, green Granny Smith apples that are crisp and not too sweet. They hold up well when baked and don't turn mushy but retain a good bite and form the base of a really good apple pie filling.

2. Cut apples the right size

For these small apple pies, it's best to chop up the peeled and cored apples rather than slice them, so that more apples fit into the muffin cups. Don't cut the apples too small or else they won't have much of a bite and will cook too quickly when baked. Toss them in a little lime juice to prevent them from going brown.

3. Toss with flour

A tablespoon of flour helps thicken all the lovely fruit juices that are released during the baking process forming a sweet, thickish jam. This prevents the bottom of the small apple pies from becoming soggy.

4. Spice it up!

A few spices used in moderation make the apple pie filling special and take these miniature apple pies to the next level. A little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg are my favorites, though sometimes I add a tiny bit of ginger paste for a tiny little kick. The smell that wafts through the house as these pies bake is simply amazing!

5. Fill the pie with uncooked apple pie filling

Don't cook the apples ahead of time. Instead bake the uncooked apples in the pie. To make the filling, just toss the chopped, fresh, uncooked apples with the flour, lime juice, brown sugar and spices. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use. Then fill the pie shells with uncooked apple pie filling and bake. And that's the recipe for the best apple pie filling ever! Quick to prepare and absolutely delicious.


Mini Apple Pies with Pillsbury Crust

One package of Pillsbury pie crusts with 2 round pie crusts will easily make 8 small apple pies topped with a woven pie crust. If you don't want the work of making lattice work crusts, you can top all the pies with a whole pie crust topping. Just be sure to cut slits in the top to let the steam escape.

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How to Make Mini Apple Tarts in Muffin Tin

Metal muffin tins or cupcake pans are perfect for making little apple pies. 

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Tip: To figure out what size to cut the dough to line the muffin tin wells, spread out a paper cupcake liner and then find a cookie cutter, glass, bowl or jar cap that is roughly the circumference of the flattened cup cake liner.

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Cut Pillsbury piecrusts using a container cover the size of a cupcake liner.


How to Make Lattice Pie Crust Design for Small Apple Pies

Don't be daunted by an intricate apple pie lattice design. It's not difficult at all. In fact, it's a lot of fun making the criss cross weave.

The quickest and best way to make a lattice crust for these miniature apple pies is to make a lattice mat and then cut out circles of the lattice to top the little apple pies. This saves a lot of time and produces a professional and even looking pie top. 

A pizza cutter wheel is a perfect little gadget to use to cut the pie crust strips evenly and easily, but a sharp knife will also do. Cut the pie crust into thin strips. 
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Cut pie crust strips using pizza cutter wheel

Remove every alternate strip and set them aside. Lay the strips that you set aside, perpendicular to the ones that were left on the board.

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Make lattice weave using pie crust strips

 To create the criss-cross weave, alternate horizontal and vertical strips by lifting and lowering accordingly to creating a lattice design.
Once the lattice mat is done, use a rolling pin to lightly roll over the mat and secure the horizontal and vertical strips together.

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Roll lattice with rolling pin gently to secure. Cut circles in lattice mat.

Now use an appropriately sized cookie cutter or glass to cut circles in the mat. The diameter of the circles should be wide enough to cover the top of the muffin well. I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to make my circles. 

Use a spatula to easily transfer the woven lattice.

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Lift lattice work crust using a spatula

Dip your finger, in a saucer of water and run your finger along the edge of the pies in the muffin tin. Then top each little apple pie with the woven lattice.  Either tuck the edges of the lattice into the small pie or seal the edges of the top dough with the bottom, gently using your fingers.

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Top filled pies with woven pie crusts


Tip: To get beautifully domed apple pies, mound the pie shells with apple pie filling and then top with the lattice. As the pie bakes, the filling will reduce and fall, but the lattice will keep its domed shape.



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Tip: Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar before baking for a golden brown top.


Recipe for Mini Apple Tartlets


Servings: 8 small apple pie tarts

Ingredients:

☐ 1 package Pillsbury pie crusts, defrosted  (2 round pie-crusts)
☐ 3 medium sized Granny Smith apples, chopped (Approx. 2 1/2 cups)
☐ 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
☐ 1 tablespoon flour
☐ 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
☐ 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
☐ Juice of 1/2 lime
☐ 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
☐ Granulated sugar for dusting 


Step-By-Step Instructions


Step 1: Prepare apple filling

Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces. In a bowl, toss the chopped apples with brown sugar, flour, lime juice, cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Set aside in fridge until ready to use.


Step 2: Prepare pie bases

Unroll the Pillsbury pie crusts. Using an appropriate sized cookie cutter/glass/ large bottle cap, cut rounds in pie crust.

Grease muffin tin with cooking spray. Then gently press pie crust rounds into the wells of the muffin tin to form the base of the pies.


Step 3: Prepare the tops of the pies

With the remaining portions of piecrust, cut out the tops of the pies using a slightly smaller cookie cutter/ glass/ bottle cap. 

A couple of options are:

1. A simple covered pie from a single piece of dough. Don't forget to cut slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.

2. A pretty woven lattice weave for the top of the crust.


Step 4: Prepare the pies

Spoon apple mixture into the dough lined muffin tins. Dip your finger, in a saucer of water and run your finger along the edge of the pies in the muffin tin. Then top each pie with the woven lattice or cut out shapes. Use a spatula to easily transfer the woven lattice. Seal the edges of the top dough with the bottom, gently using your finger.

Place in fridge while oven is heating up. Heat oven to 425°F.


Step 5: Bake

Just before baking, brush topes of pies with egg wash. Dust with granulated sugar.

Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. If the pies brown too quickly, protect with foil.

Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before removing them from muffin tin.

To remove the pies from the muffin tin, run a sharp knife along the edge of the pies to release them and slowly lift them out.


Try my other recipes using apples:

- Apple Rose Vanilla Cupcakes

- Apple Rose Pastries

- Pancakes with Stewed Apples


Or click on the "Sweets and Desserts" tab below to see more.


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