apple pie for one + tips for a perfect crust

Happy beginnings of the holiday season!  It is also the season for pie-baking, one of my favorite things to do.  Personally, there are times when I want to bake an entire pie and either share it with some friends or devour most of it myself.  There are other times, however, I just want to have one slice and then be rid of any further temptation to go back for seconds…or thirds.  Enter the “apple pie for one.”  Lately, I am beyond obsessed with all things miniature.  Aside from these apple pies being downright adorable, they are the perfect size for a decadent one-time session….

One of my favorite dessert spots in town, D Bar Desserts, specializes in baking chocolate chip cookies to order.  They are hot, fresh, delicious, and made especially for you.  They simply keep cookie dough at the ready.  I have been doing the same thing with pie dough, thanks to their inspirational idea.  I’ll make a batch of dough, divide it into small portions, and either refrigerate or freeze the rest.  I can quickly toss together an apple pie, a peach hand pie, or even a mini breakfast quiche at any time!  So convenient.

I made a few of these little apple pies over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Aside from mastering a few dough-making tips, making an apple pie for one is super easy.  All you need is some dough, one apple, a squeeze of lemon, a little cinnamon, a pat of butter, some sugar, and maybe a little salt..  Assemble, bake, and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • pie dough {see recipe below}
  • one apple {Granny Smiths are perfect}
  • brown sugar or cane sugar to taste {about 1/8 cup}
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter {optional}

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  To make the filling, peel, core, and thinly slice one apple.  Set the apple slices in a bowl and add desired amounts of sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt.  Toss together and set aside.
  2. Roll out the dough.  Tear off two sheets of waxed or parchment paper.  Lay one piece on counter top and lightly flour the surface.  Place the small disk of dough on the paper, cover with the second sheet of paper, and roll out the dough slowly, from the center.
  3. Carefully remove the paper on the top of the flattened dough.  Place your hand on the surface of the dough and flip it over onto the pie plate.  The other sheet of paper should be on top.  Slowly peel back the paper from the dough.
  4. Lightly press the dough into the pie plate and trim the edges.  I usually leave about 1/2 over the side, so that I can make a decorative, flaky edge.
  5. Crimp and style the edges however you would like and fill the pie plate with the apple filling.  Grace the top of the apple mixture with diced butter {for a little extra buttery indulgence!}.  You may also make a double crusted pie, like I did for this post.  I even made a crumbly streusel topping, which was divine.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Serve with a scoop of ice cream.  I am in l-o-v-e with Talenti‘s salted caramel gelato.  Do it.

I have made about four batches of pie dough this week, and only when I took the time to make it the “right” way {yes, there are some to-be-obeyed tips I will include}, did the dough turn out perfectly flaky and keep its desired shape.  I settled on my grandmother’s recipe and abode by her time-tested tips:

  • Use cold butter for the dough.  I haven’t done this yet, but try using Food 52’s frozen butter method.  I’m impressed with how genius this idea is!
  • Don’t overwork the dough with your hands.  The key is to keep the pie dough cold; warm fingers heat up the dough.  You will lose flakiness, if the dough is overworked.
  • Keep the dough cold throughout the entire pie-making process.  Once you’ve made the dough, set it in the refrigerator, while you make your filling.  Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before you roll it out.  You may make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to two days.  Again, if you live in a hotter climate, think about freezing the dough for 10 minutes just before you start to roll it out.
  • Cover and chill the lined pie plate before filling the pie or doing any blind-baking. This will help the pie keep its shape when baked.
  • Make your pie dough in advance.  Portion it out, place it in plastic wrap, and freeze it for later use.  You will never purchase store-bought crusts again.
  • I also found very helpful tips from The Smitten Kitchen and Food 52.
  • Oh, yes, and don’t be afraid to stuff your pie full of apple slices.  The apple bakes down a lot.


My Nana’s Pie Crust Recipe:

  • 2 cups flour {I use 1 cup unbleached and 1 cup whole wheat}
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Steps:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add the cubed butter and cut with a pastry cutter, until larger pea-sized lumps are visible.  You may also use a food processor, but I get better results, if I do this by hand.  You’ll want the dough to hold together, when you slightly squeeze it with your fingers.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk.  Add this to the flour mixture and gently incorporate using a spatula.
  4. Form into a ball and divide in half.  This recipe yields two 9-inch crusts or one double-crusted 9-inch pie.  Or, in our case, multiple mini pies!

I just realized that I haven’t posted any photos of our cats!  This is Kazu, one of our two newly adopted sister tabbies.  Ash, our other cat, was absent from this pie-making session, but Kazu took good baking notes.  We brought the kitties into our home in late August, and we’ve been infatuated ever since {proof on my Instagram feed}.  Kazu is wild and vocal, aptly named after the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Blonde Redhead.  I hope your Thanksgiving celebrations were memorable, delicious, and spent with loved ones.  I actually needed a break from the bustle, so my boyfriend and I visited his brother’s family, and then we returned home to cook for ourselves in our almost-finished kitchen.  It was delicious and romantic, complete with candles and a bottle of 2010 Domaine Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot {in other words, amazing Chardonnay from France!}.

What are your tips for making the perfect pie crust?  I am curious to learn a great recipe for gluten-free pie crust.  Send me a link in the comments to your own recipe or a recipe that you swear by.  My next challenge is attempting gluten-free baking that tastes great.  Until that happens, have a happy start to December!

Jayme Henderson

Occupationally speaking, I am a sommelier and mixologist at a busy, upscale Denver restaurant. I am lucky enough to spend most days tasting, pairing, and creating, alongside my cherished guests. I am also a contributor at the Kitchn, where I write about wine and gardening, tour cooks' kitchens, and interview innovative growers and makers. When I am not wearing those shoes, you can find me in my garden, preserving, painting, designing, and documenting my experiences along the way. I'm currently learning calligraphy and trying my best at home brewing. And I am seriously obsessed with my cats. And rosé.

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9 Comments

  1. Reply

    Edie

    December 2, 2013

    Fantastic!!! I use the frozen butter and then a cheese shredder so that it easily incorporates into the flour! This sounds so good I’m off to the kitchen!!

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      December 2, 2013

      I can’t believe I haven’t heard of that trick, Edie – the frozen butter and cheese shredder! I’ll do that with my next pie, for sure. I hope you are all settled in your studio and have internet back! :-/ I’d be going crazy!

  2. Reply

    segmation

    December 11, 2013

    I will have to try this out! Thanks for sharing. http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      December 13, 2013

      You’re welcome! I have really fallen in love with the small batch philosophy – small batch pies, jams, cocktails…you name it. They are easy to make, quickly enjoyed, and really allow for a lot of creativity. If you do try a small batch pie, let me know how it goes!

  3. Reply

    SweetCandyDreamer

    December 17, 2013

    I love apple pie and this one looks delicious! Also, what a beautiful cat 🙂 xx

    http://www.sweetcandydreamer.com

    • Reply

      jayme marie

      December 17, 2013

      You are so welcome! It was delicious, thanks! There will be more enjoyed in about a week! 😉 And Kazu cat says thank you!

  4. Reply

    aurumeve

    December 23, 2013

    I am HUGE on the crust for bot hsweet and savory pies! Looks delicious and thanks fro the tips!
    AurumEve.com ~ Global Jewelry

  5. Reply

    stevesteese

    January 10, 2014

    I am such a big fan of the mini pies, the format allows so much room for experimentation and creativity and variation!

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