Pie Dough + Spiced Apple Hand Pies (WFMW)

With the holidays coming up (and since this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp theme is pastry doughs and batters), I thought I’d address a bit of a touchy subject for this week’s Works for Me Wednesday post… Pie Dough.

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by pie crusts, though… I used to be, too. But, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be difficult… Really! Once you know a simple formula, you’ll be whipping up your own homemade pie crusts in no time at all. In fact, I happen to think that it’s easier than running to the store to buy a pre-made crust!

It wasn’t until I bought a copy of Ratio by Michael Ruhlman that I really became comfortable with making pie crusts.  I was always so baffled and confused because every recipe I would look at would be a bit different and I never knew which one to choose.  After discovering the basic ratio for pie crusts, though, I decided to give it a try… And, I’ve never turned back. It turns out well every time and is pretty versatile.

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Basically, you just need to know that pie dough is “as easy as 3-2-1″… You will need 3 parts flour (plus a pinch of salt), 2 parts butter, and 1 part ice water.  The ingredients are measured by weight and added in the order of the formula.  Simple, right?

It’s a ratio that’s so simple that can remember it and whip up a pie crust from memory each time.  Just in case, though, I’ve added a quick cheat sheet so that you will have no trouble making your own pie crusts!

As long as you follow the ratio, you can make as much, or as little, pie dough as you want.  But, let’s talk about the two most common amounts – a single pie crust, and a double pie crust.

Single Pie Crust Double Pie Crust
6 ounces flour 12 ounces flour
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ounces ice water 4 ounces ice water

Now that we’ve tackled the ingredients, let’s talk about the method…

  • Whisk together the flour and salt to remove any lumps.
  • Make sure the butter is cold and cut into chunks and add to the flour.
  • Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, leaving some pea sized chunks of butter (this is what makes the crust flakey).
  • Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and toss with a fork.  Add just enough water that the pie dough comes together (though it might be a bit crumbly… that’s OK).
  • Shape the dough into a disc (2 discs for a double crust), wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness and use in your favorite pie recipe!

Since I can’t leave you hanging with an unbaked pie crust, I thought I’d share a simple recipe for some spiced apple hand pies. They are a no pressure way to perfect your pie dough skills before the holidays roll around. Plus, they make a great after school or after work snack!

Spiced Apple Hand Pies

(Makes 10-12)

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 2 apples, peeled and finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tablespoons half and half
  • Raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment or a silicon liner.

While the oven preheats, combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small mixing bowl.  Toss to evenly mix.

Roll out the pie crust so that it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Use a large circular cookie cutter to cut large rounds out of the pie dough.

Spoon a small amount of filling (about 1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pie dough rounds) into the center of the dough rounds. Brush a small amount of water around the outside of the pie dough. Fold one side of the dough over to create a half-moon and crimp with a fork to seal the edge.

Place the pies on the baking sheet and brush lightly with the half and half.  Sprinkle some raw sugar on the top of each pie.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a savory way to use your pie dough!

37 Responses to Pie Dough + Spiced Apple Hand Pies (WFMW)

  1. I have a “no fail” pie crust from my grandma that I still have never tried. While it’s definitely not the recipe that she used all the time (she never measured a thing) I have still been dying to try it. But I am scared! It is intimidating.
    I would love to try to make these (they are beautiful!) but I think I gotta get a regular pie down first. :)

  2. I love your cheat sheet and your photo collage! I have to agree – pie dough seems intimidating but it really isn’t that hard. I have to admit sometimes I use half butter and half lard – I really like the texture the lard gives the dough.

  3. great tips on pie crust! I made my first pie crust earlier this year and it is intimidating. But you’re right, it’s not as difficult as it seems. I’m going to try your ratio one next I think. I’d love to try these hand pies as well. :)

  4. Great tips! I’ve been using PW’s perfect pie crust recipe that calls for shortening, but I’d rather switch to butter. Can I just substitute butter directly for the amount of shortening?

  5. Tracey – Yes, you should be able to substitute butter for shortening… Just be sure to work with it when it’s cold. Also, butter contains more water content than shortening, so you may have to adjust the amount of water a bit. Be sure to add it a small amount at a time!

  6. Sigh. This looks divine. I would love to make things like this, but I’d be the only one to eat them! My husband can’t stand baked apple. Sigh. Therefore, if I were to cook it, I’d eat the whole dern thing alone. Sigh.

    These are perfection.

  7. These little pies look amazing, Jen. I posted my pie crust dough recipe back in September, I think, and I’ve since made the dough several times. I used to be intimidated by pie crust, but – for me at least – practice really does make perfect. I’m definitely with you on the all-butter crust. Beautiful photos!

  8. well, you tempted me enough to try this this afternoon. i’ve been looking for a crust recipe that uses something other than shortening (tried coconut oil in one recipe and failed:)

    used approx 8 oz. white flour and 4 oz. wheat flour and the results were a.ma.zing!!! thanks for a new pie crust recipe!

  9. Oh Jen… I think you may have a Kitchen Bootcamp that I won’t be able to participate in. I stink at pastry crusts! I’ve made it so well known on my blog that people keep sending me “no-fail” pie crust recipes….LOL

    You’ll know that I’m a firm believer in the “bootcamp” project if I actually post something with pastry crust dough in the recipe. Wish me luck.

    By the way, those little pies look too darn cute AND delicious.

  10. This is a great post! I have my regular, much-loved pie doughs – one for sweet treats and one for savory, but I have to try your simple recipe because yours turns out fabulously light and flaky! These hand pies are a dream partly because of the flaky dough, partly because of that fabulous filling. Must try!

  11. These look so yummy! And I didn’t know that leaving small chunks of butter makes the crust flakey. Thank you for showing us how easy pie dough can be!

  12. Hello,
    I was wondering if you could freeze those apple hand-pies, when should you do it, is it before or after baking?