It feels like the run up to Christmas is already in full swing and I am lagging behind a bit; I have done no Christmas shopping, haven’t planned any recipes, completely missed stir up Sunday and don’t even know where I am spending Christmas day yet…. I think I need to work on being more organised but the miserable weather and the fact that it gets dark so early now really aren’t helping with my motivation levels. The dark gloomy days are perfect for staying home and baking however (though not great for photographing the results), and making these mini cardamom apples pies did go some way towards increasing my Christmas spirit.
I think that mini pies look so much cuter than their full sized counterparts, and while they may be a bit more fiddly and time consuming to make, they are much more portable and easy to eat by hand. I used a selection of apples from the trees in my garden, which are a mixture of tart eating apples and cooking apples, though I have no idea what the varieties are actually called. You can use all eating apples, or a mixture of both cooking and eating apples if you prefer, just make sure that you use quite a sharp variety – braeburn or cox would work well, maybe with a bramley mixed in.
I spiced my apples with the classic apple pie spice – cinnamon, but also added some ground cardamom to elevate them beyond a standard apple pie. I was quite generous with the cardamom as I really like the flavour, but you can add less if you would prefer it to be more of a hint. I baked the pies in a muffin tin, which I think makes them quite a nice single-serving size; they are a little tricky to remove from the tin though and it is best to wait until they are cold before attempting to remove them as the pastry is quite delicate when warm. I didn’t think to do so at the time, but it would be a good idea to line the tin with overhanging strips of greaseproof paper so that it is easier to lift the pies out. You could also bake them in disposable foil tins to avoid any difficulty in removing them or having to wait until they are cold.
- 1kg (2.2lb) tart eating apples
- juice 1 small lemon
- 60g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 60g (1/3 cup) light brown soft sugar
- ¼ - ½ tsp ground cardamom (to taste)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 250g (2 cups + 1tbsp) plain flour
- 50g (1/2 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 150g (1/2 cup + 2tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 egg yolks (reserve one of the whites)
- 2 tbsp ice water
- the reserved egg white for glazing
- Peel and core the apples and chop into small dice. Place in a saucepan with the lemon juice, sugars, cardamom (start with ¼ tsp and add more later if needed) and cinnamon. Bring up to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, adding a splash of water if needed, until the apples are tender. Taste, and add more cardamom and sugar as needed. Set aside until completely cold then sift over the flour and stir through.
- Place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and ice water and pulse again until it comes together into a ball. Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour.
- Line a muffin tray with strips of greaseproof paper so that they overhang either side of each cavity so that you can lift the pies out easily (or use disposable foil tins). Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Use a 10-12cm (depending on the size of your muffin tin) round pastry cutter to cut out 10-12 rounds (I didn't have a large enough cutter so cut round a bowl with a knife). Press the rounds into the muffin tin, the edge should come up to just above the top of the tin. Fill each one right to the top with the cooled apple mixture then re-roll the pastry scraps and cut into thin strips.
- Lay the strips in a criss-cross pattern across the tops of the pies, brush the ends with a little of the reserved egg white and gently press them into the pastry base to seal. Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
- Brush the tops of the pies with egg white, being careful not to get any between the pastry and the tin or the pies will be difficult to remove. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through; if the tops start to darken too much, loosely cover with tin foil.
- Leave the pies to cool completely in the tin, the pastry is delicate when warm and they will be difficult to remove. Once cold, carefully prise the pies out of the tin and serve. Store in an airtight container.