I don’t have much of a relationship with fast food to speak of, simply because it hasn’t been a part of my diet in the last 5 years. I’ll eat fast food when I’m traveling in a foreign place and I’m too hungry to seek out a restaurant, or when I absolutely have no choice. That happens maybe 3 to 5 times a year. But if I had to pick one of my favourite fast food indulgences, the McDonald’s Apple Pie would definitely be on the top of my list.
These crunchy buttery pastries are one of those things that’s soooo difficult to resist even though you know it’s ridiculously bad for you. Yet I’m hard-pressed to find a person who can actually say no in the face of this taunting golden fast food beauty. Even my aversion to fried pastries becomes a blurry memory. Just upon sight of these, I can already imagine glorious autumn exploding in my mouth.
So when my brother Jason texted me out of the blue just to ask if I ever considered making a copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie, I immediately understood. He probably happened upon a classmate eating one at school. He could’ve bought himself one from the many McDonald’s dotting the perimeter of his school, but he knew I would love the challenge of making a homemade version. When he came home that night we studied a bunch of recipes and decided on combining two of them for this copycat experiment.
You know what I love more than the actual “challenge” of this apple pie? It’s the active participation of one of my brothers in this whole process. I’ve very seldom been successful at making them willing kitchen assistants whenever I make stuff. Sometimes I have to literally drag them into the kitchen like when we made these yummy pretzels (they ended up enjoying that anyway), or in some extreme cases blackmail them… But my family is not really interested in anything other than the eating stage, so I’m always eager to jump into whatever kitchen project they want to do.
So how would Jason and I both rate this copycat apple pie of ours? It’s a decent success but not quite the copycat I was hoping for. There definitely is that explosive cinnamon-apple goodness in every bite, but we all know the star of the McDonald’s Apple Pie is the crust.
Unfortunately the recipe for the tart shells we chose to partner with the filling was a bit disappointing. It was flaky yes, but it didn’t exactly taste like the McDonald’s version, which is both crunchy and flaky but had this yummy buttery undertone that doesn’t feel greasy at all.
On the other hand, it’s not exactly a failure of a recipe per se. It just didn’t taste like the McDonald’s one. It also makes quite a small amount of dough. I ended up rolling the dough out too thin just so I could divided it into 6 and it began breaking apart as I folded it over the apples. Somehow I managed to crimp the edges. If any of you have the mind to follow this dough recipe, add another half recipe so you can make 6 big ones and use up all your filling.
I’m obsessed with keeping everything on the blog made from scratch as much as possible, but it seems like plain old store-bought puff pastry is a little closer to what I was going for in terms of the pie shell. I’m definitely making this again when I stock up on puff pastry just to compare. In case you’re curious, I’ve written the recipe for the from-scratch tart dough below. Who knows, you might have better luck or enjoy it better than we did!
Fried Apple Hand-Pies
Makes 5-6 pies
For the tart shell (or use 2 sheets puff pastry*)
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons cold butter
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
For the filling
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
Make the dough
- 1. In the bowl of your food processor*, combine the flour, salt, and sugar by pulsing 3 times. Cut up the butter into large chunks, and add to the flour. Pulse several times, until the mixture is sandy and crumbly.
- 2. Drizzle in the ice water, and pulse 2 or 3 times until the dough just holds together.
- 3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 6” disc. Wrap the disc tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling
- 4. Place chopped apples in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, spices, and butter; and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until tender and ingredients are well-combined. Set aside to cool.
- 5. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 of the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness, forming a rectangle about 12 inches long and about 5 or 6 inches high depending on how big you want it. With the long end facing you, cut the dough into three 4-inch rectangles, then pile about 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of filling on one half of the rectangle. **
- 6. Lightly wet the edges of the dough with water and fold other half over, pressing each into a rectangular shape. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining dough.
- 7. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up the dough. Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of oil to 350°F (180°C) in a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven or pot.
- 8. Fry the pies for a total of 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Remove from oil when the pies are a deep golden brown. Place on a stack of paper towels to drain the oil, and if desired, dust with confectioners sugar.
- 9. Serve hot.
** I used a pastry cutter and simply cut in the butter. Then I used my hands to mix the dough together as I drizzled the water.
*** Do not roll out the dough too thin (or overfill with apples for that matter) or it will break as you make your pies. I aimed to make 6 pies so my dough was a little too thin, but if you add another half recipe of dough then it would be perfect for 6 pies. (Remember to roll out the dough a little thicker too.) I think the ideal yield following this tart shell recipe as is would be to make 5 pies.
Tart dough adapted from Babble.com; filling adapted from Yumsugar blog
I’ll let you know when I find the perfect homemade duplicate so stay tuned! 😉