I have the extreme pleasure this week of sharing another recipe with you by Nicole Hunn, one of my absolute favorite gluten-free bakers, and author of the Gluten-Free on a Shoestring blog. All of her recipes are crazy easy, and so good, I can’t get enough of them! An extra bonus is that the recipe is from her most recent book, Gluten-Free Classic Snacks. Her book shows you how to make gluten-free versions of some of your favorite classic sweet treats from childhood. Today’s recipe is a gluten-free version adapted from Hostess’ classic apple pie. As with all of Nicole’s recipes, it is only deceptively long. The narrative is what makes the recipes so easy to execute. You can see Nicole’s recipe for gluten-free sweet potato pie here, and her gluten-free lemon cream éclairs here. Enjoy! —Kristina
About Nicole: As the personality behind the wildly popular Gluten-Free on a Shoestring blog and cookbook series, Nicole firmly believes that gluten-free eating should be both enjoyable and affordable! Nicole has written about gluten-free eating for Parade magazine, Living Without, and Gluten-Free Living and she has appeared on Sirius/XM Radio, The Better Show, and ABC News. She has also been featured in the New York Times, Better Homes & Gardens, Parents Magazine and Epicurious.com. Nicole lives with her family in Westchester County, NY.
Apparently, at some point in the last few years, Hostess changed the formulation for its apple fruit pies. I have absolutely no earthly idea why anyone would ever mess with perfection, but they did. These apple fruit pies are in the style of the old-school version. (PS: I think all Hostess did was to stop piling all the filling toward the center as it used to do.) You can make these all in a day or you can make the filling up to three days ahead of time and store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Simply bring it to room temperature before using it to fill the pies.
Note: A cake cutter or hand pie cutter will come in handy here to create the pie shapes.
Classic Apple Fruit Pies (Makes 10 Pies)
3 firm apples (Empire or Granny Smith work especially well), peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons (18 g) cornstarch
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 fluid ounce) lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups (315 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 to 6 tablespoons (2 to 3 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature
Oil, for frying
1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon meringue powder
3 to 5 teaspoons warm water
First, prepare the filling ahead so it has time to cool: In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, place all the filling ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and the mixture has thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Prepare the crust: In a large bowl, place the flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, egg, vanilla, and 2 fluid ounces of the milk, mixing to combine after each addition. Knead the dough with your hands, adding more milk by the half-teaspoonful as necessary to bring the dough together. It should be thick but smooth.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and sprinkle very lightly with more flour. Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds 6 inches in diameter with a cake cutter or hand pie cutter.
With wet fingers or a wet pastry brush, moisten the border of one crust, and place about 1/3 cup filling off center, concentrating the filling toward the center of the round rather than an even layer all the way across the crust. Fold the crust in half, enclosing the filling, and cinch the edges closed securely. Slash the top of the pie with a sharp knife in three short strokes. Repeat with the remaining filling and crusts.
Place a wire rack above paper towels on a baking sheet and set it aside. Place 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or deep fryer. Clip a candy/deep-fry thermometer to the side of the saucepan, and bring the oil to 350F. Place the pies in the hot oil in small batches, taking care not to crowd them at all. Allow to fry until lightly golden brown all over, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the pies from the oil, and place on the prepared wire rack.
Once the pies are cool, prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and 3 teaspoons of the water and mix to combine well. It should form a thick paste. Add more water by the half-teaspoonful to thin the glaze until it falls off the spoon in a thin ribbon. With the cooled pies still on the wire rack, pour the glaze lightly over them and spread it into an even layer. Allow the glaze to set into a thin shell.
Once they are finished, these apple pies are best enjoyed the day they are made or the following day. I have successfully wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and sent them in my children’s lunchboxes the day after they were made and heard absolutely no complaints. Quite the contrary!
From the book Gluten-Free Classic Snacks: 100 Recipes for the Brand-Name Treats You Love by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2015
Why Nicole loves this recipe: These light and flaky miniature apple pies are a real favorite of mine. It should be a given for all the recipes in Classic Snacks, but just in case: it tastes just like the packaged snack! So if you have memories of Hostess Apple Fruit Pies, the smell, taste and even the look of these pies will bring them all flooding back. The lightly golden crust of these little wonders is firm but tender, not quite like a traditional pie crust. The filling stays put until you bite into that crackly sugar glaze, which keeps them fresh long enough to be packed in a lunch box. Snacking nirvana!