We had the opportunity to travel on a family vacation to France back in 2009.…
One Southern specialty would be the fried pie. When we were at a Farmers Market earlier this fall, a vendor was selling baked goods and fried pies. Carly wanted to get a fried pie – it was pretty pricey and then not that good. We decided that one of our next projects would be making a fried pie at home. I mean, how hard can that be????? Well, this became our first cooking project for Fall Break.
Since I’m not from a Southern background, I had to start by researching different fried pie recipes. What surprised me to start was that every recipe started with dried fruit. From there, the recipes were all over the map!
So there were basically two ways to prepare the fruit filling (we started with apple) – either soak for 4 or more hours in water to reconstitute, then cook. Or simmer in water and add some sugar and butter and not have to wait so long. I decided the second method was the way to go for me. Many of the recipes gave an amount of water to use with the dried fruit. The problem with the first batch was that the water didn’t fully cover the dried apple rings and we had some rubbery spots in the apples when we got done. I couldn’t mash them up very well either. The second round, I chopped up the dried fruit some so I wouldn’t have big pieces to stick out of the water – chopping dried fruit is certainly entertaining. This time, I put the apple pieces in the pan and put in enough water to cover. After simmering until the fruit was soft, getting rid of the water was pretty easy, just turn it up a bit and let it simmer off. As the water was almost gone, I added the sugar and butter and stirred it up.
On the first batch of fried pies (now, I didn’t expect to end up doing 3 different batches – after all, how hard can it be to make a dough, put some fruit in it and fry it up?) I followed the recipe that was using self-rising flour. This recipe had us pinch off some dough, roll it out then form the pie. Getting that to roll into a perfect circle was not something that I or Carly were very good at. The pies had a wide variety of shapes and didn’t seal as well as we would have liked. When that dough hit the hot oil, it puffed up really big and when you went to eat the pie, you had so much crust around the fruit – didn’t really like the way this came out….
On a recent trip to another city, there was a Trader Joe’s near my hotel. I went in there and they had a great selection of dried fruits – much more extensive than I’ve seen in Huntsville. I picked up some more apples, and packages of Bing and sour cherries. I LOVE cherries, so I also made a batch of fruit by mixing the Bing and sour cherries. Chopped a bit, and cooked the same way I did the apples.
The other recipes used all-purpose flour – so off we go to try this one. This dough was similar to a pie crust. This time, we rolled the dough out and using a large (4 ½ inch) cookie cutter, cut out circles to make the pies. Carly was making the pies and I was frying them up. These pies didn’t puff up at all. In fact, by the time the outside was done, there was still a thin layer of pretty raw dough right around the fruit. These came out to be pretty chewy as well. We made both apple and cherry versions – the fruit center came out great, but we still needed to do something with the crust itself.
So then it hit me – how about if we went in between. So, I took all-purpose flour and mixed in half of what goes in self-rising flour so we have half-rising flour. However, the dough was still too sticky and we added a little extra flour until the dough was tacky, but not overly sticky. (And here is where I broke the first rule of recipe development – I didn’t measure what I added to the dough….) We rolled this out, Carly made the pies and I fried them up. I must say – Carly is VERY good at making the pies now – she had PLENTY of practice. After all, three afternoons of Fall Break week making fried pies isn’t a bad way to work on a project together. These pies came out very good – pretty much just the way we wanted. If I made any more changes, I might add something to the dough so it isn’t so plain, but a sprinkling of powdered sugar and these were as good as any I’ve had……
Note: The hands in all of the pictures were Carly’s – she made ALL of the pies.
So, what looked like an EASY cooking project came to be something we both decided we were going to get right!
Sort of recipe:
Approx 7oz Dried Fruit (whatever you want – apples, cherries, peaches, etc., most of the bags I found were in the 7-8 ounce range)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
Add seasoning if you would like – I added some cinnamon to the apples – didn’t add anything to the cherries.
Put dried fruit in a sauce pan and cover with water. (You can chop the fruit if you want, if not, just make sure you have enough water.) Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until the fruit is soft. Add water if you need to keep it covered. At this point, turn the heat up just a little and simmer off the extra water. When it is just starting to thicken, add the sugar and butter and stir in. Break the fruit up into smaller pieces and allow the mixture to thicken. I used my potato masher. Set filling aside.
2 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup solid shortening, chilled
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 ea. egg
(Note: the basic recipe for self-rising flour is to add 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda to each cup of flour. I rounded a bit on this mixture)
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the shortening using two forks or a pastry blender. Continue until the shortening is in small pieces and mixed well into the flour. Add the buttermilk and stir until a dough forms (I like using my Danish dough whisk). If the dough is very sticky, add flour a little at a time until it is tacky, but not sticky. Work gently with your hands until the dough become smooth. I use a silicone rolling mat and rolled the dough out until it was fairly thin. Cut out circles using a large cookie cutter (4 to 5 inches in diameter).
In a small bowl, beat the egg with a little water to create an egg wash – we found this REALLY helped to seal the edges of the pies. Brush a little egg wash on the edge of half of the dough circle (the “bottom” edge of the crust when you fold it over in half).
Spoon about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the crust. Fold the crust over, forcing as much air out around the filling as possible. Press the edges of the crust together where the egg wash will seal the two sides together. Using the tines of a fork, press down to seal and make the ridges on the edge of the fried pie.
Using a fryer or a heavy-duty skillet, heat oil to 350 degrees. You will need at least 2 inches of oil. Gently place a pie into the oil. Don’t overcrowd. Allow to cook about 2 minutes, then turn the pie over and cook another 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow to drain. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy – just try to wait long enough that you don’t burn your mouth!