Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk, tucked inside of my warm house, with my fuzzy blanket draped over my lap and a hot coffee in hand, I almost forget how it felt to be 14 with frozen fingers.
Far before I ever had the luxury of working from home, or even in an office, or even in a building, I worked outdoors at the flea market. I peddled whatever products my Pop-pop decided was “the new thing” that he could get for a good price: knick-knacks, make-up, toys, what have you. And though my Pop-pop was entertaining, generous in paying me, and made it lucky gig for a young teenager, he did not have a good setup for bad weather.
Of all the things that I’ve ever dreaded in my life, cold, rainy days at the flea market are high up on the list. They resulted in painfully purple fingers, because gloves made handling money and plastic-wrapped products almost impossible to do quickly. I’d breathe a big sigh of relief when lunchtime rolled around and I could head to the main building to thaw out with a hot chocolate and warm snack.
My snack of choice? An apple fry pie from the Amish market. The buttery, flaky crust; gooey, caramelized apple interior; and warm spices made up a treat that I obsessed over. Even the smell of the cinnamon drifting out from the Dutch bakery was enchanting. Not to mention, they were perfectly hand-sized, which made them even more wonderful for eating on the go and, of course, defrosting my fingers.
It’s been years since I got an apply fry pie from the Amish market, but they’ve been on my mind lately, and I’ve even contemplated a trip down to South Jersey just to get one. But then I remembered, duh, I make food for a living. I should just make my own– with my own twist, of course. Thus, Maple Brown Butter Glazed Amish Apple Fry Pies were born.
It’s a mouthful to say, sure, but I’m just going to say that it’s a clue to the many mouthfuls of these that you’re going to want to enjoy.
Like traditional Amish fry pies, the filling is made up of chopped apples, which are cooked down with a liberal blend of brown sugar and cinnamon, a kick of vanilla extract, and just a bit of lemon juice. It’s up to you how long you’d like to cook yours down; I like my apples to still have the slightest bit of crunch to them, but you can let them go until they’re completely soft if that’s more your style. Heck, you could even use store-bought apple pie filling if you prefer. You shouldn’t, because homemade is so much better and it’s pretty damn simple to do, but you could. It’s important to know your options, ya know?
As the apples are cooking, you can work on the dough, which is much easier than you might think. Cut very cold butter into small pieces, work the butter into the dough (the same way you would any other pie crust or pastry), and mix it egg yolks, salt, and hot milk. Stir it all up and then knead it until it’s smooth and voila, you dough is made.
From there, you can choose to either make big apple fry pies like I did, or slightly littler ones if you want to keep them on the small side for whatever reason. Why portion-control a hand pie? I’m not sure, but if that’s your thing then I’m not judging.
Ok, ok, seriously. If you want the big ones, you divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces. If you want smaller ones, go for 12. Form them into balls and then roll them out into disks. You can use an upside-down bowl to trim away excess dough if you have a hard time rolling them out evenly.
Then, place the filling in a line along the center of one dough round at a time, fold the dough over, and crimp it closed.
^ Like that. Just fold the edge point by point by point and you’ll wind up with a nicely crimped edge. Then, off to hot oil they go until they’re gorgeously golden, just like at the Amish market.
You could eat ’em just like that, but resist the urge! Because we’ve still got that maple brown butter glaze to talk about, and I could talk about it ALLLL DAY. I’ll try to keep it brief though, so you can get to eatin’.
It may seem unnecessary to add more sweetness on top of mini apple pies, but the rich, nutty, maple-y glaze truly seals the deal here. Speaking of sealing, it also helps further seal the edges of the pies so that when you take a big ol’ bite, it’s not tempted to ooze out of the sides. Dual-purpose deliciousness.
Brown your butter in the microwave (so easy!) and then mix in brown sugar, maple syrup, and milk. Throw that back into the microwave and microwave until it’s all melted and smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract and powdered sugar to thicken it all up, and you’re ready to brush that glaze all over your warm apple fry pies.
Really brush it on there. Don’t be shy. In fact, if you have extra, drizzle it over top. Maple Brown Butter Glazed Amish Apple Fry Pies require being glazed with reckless abandon. It’s what makes them so spectacular.
And believe-you-me, that’s exactly what these are. Spectacular. Warming. Sweet-Tooth Satisfying. Portable. Loveable. A bit of Fall in every bite. I could go on.
Bring these into work to share with your coworkers, serve them up at Thanksgiving, or just keep them around the house for a hot treat on a cold day. When you’ve got chilly hands that need some warming, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.
Oh, and don’t forget to snap a photo of your Maple Brown Butter Glazed Amish Apple Fry Pies! If you tag them with #hostthetoast on Instagram, they’ll show up on the You Made It page, and you know I love to show off your pretty creations.
Adapted from NeighborFoodBlog
For the Apple Filling:
- 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Canola oil, for frying
For the Dough:
- 4 cups flour, sifted
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup hot milk
For the Maple Brown Butter Glaze:
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
- To start, make the filling. Combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the apples are slightly softened and have released their juices, about 5 minutes. Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl until a slurry forms. Pour into the apple mixture, stirring constantly, and increase the heat to high. Continue to stir and cook until the mixture thickens and the apples are softened to your desired consistency, about 3-6 more minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the filling mixture from the heat and set aside to cool.
- As the filling cools, prepare the dough. Add the flour to a large bowl. Use a dough blender or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until coarse crumbs form, no larger than a pea. In a small, separate bowl, beat together the eggs and the salt. Pour the hot milk (and make sure it’s very hot!) slowly into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. It’s important to do this slowly or else you’ll wind up with scrambled eggs. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well-combined and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out on top. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 8 (for large) or 12 (for small) equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, smoothing them out as much as possible. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into thin circles.
- One at a time, fill each dough circle with about 2 tablespoon’s worth of the apple filling. Fold the dough circle in half over the filling, and press down on the edges to seal. Fold or crimp the edge, starting at one corner and continuing all the way to the end, to ensure that the pies stay closed while frying.
- Heat the oil to 350°F in a deep cast iron pan, dutch oven, or wok. If you don’t have a candy & oil thermometer, you can tell the oil is ready when bubbles rise to the surface around a wooden spoon handle inserted into the oil.
- Fry the pies, a couple at a time, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. You may find that you have to adjust your heat as you go, so keep an eye on how quickly they brown. Carefully remove the pies from the oil using tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet or paper towels.
- While the pies cool enough to handle, make the glaze. Place the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a paper plate and microwave on high for 3 minutes, and then in 15 second intervals if necessary, until deeply golden.
- Remove browned butter from microwave and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and milk. Microwave again in 30 second intervals, whisking in between, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes total.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract and a cup of the powdered sugar. Add additional powdered sugar until the glaze is thick enough to brush onto the fry pies.
- Brush the glaze onto the tops of the fry pies and let set. Drizzle with remaining glaze, if desired. Allow the glaze to harden slightly and then serve.
- The pies can be stored on the counter, loosely covered for 3 days. Don’t place them in a plastic bag or container, or the glaze will soften.