Friday, September 23, 2011

Fried Pies

Usually when you start a cooking blog, you start with a bang.  You pull out your best recipe, your best techniques, everything to show off what you’ve got.  I’m taking a different approach.  I’m starting at the beginning.  I want to write a blog that isn’t about how fast I can chop an onion or about my soapbox argument on which type of fat is best for pie crusts (go lard!). I want to work on a blog about food, how I love and appreciate it, and how I like to prepare it.

This post pays homage to the very special recipe that started it all for me – Fried Pies.  When I was a junior in high school, (suddenly, I feel ancient) I took my first cooking class.  My teacher was definitely a cougar.  She was well into her forties and kept good company with men in their twenties.  She wore these ultra-cool bowling shoes with every outfit, knew how to cook classic French food, and all the while was completely comfortable in her own skin.   It was this class and through her that I became interested in food.  Now that I think about it, I also discovered the Food Network around this time.  Hey, this was a big year for me.  Anyone remember Sara Moulton? One of my first assignments was to change and improve the cooking method of a recipe without severely altering any of the ingredients.  I chose Pie.  My love of cooking began.  The rest is pretty much history.

I know what you're thinking.  How do you make pie better?  How could you possibly improve an already perfect dessert?

You fry it.   
Then you glaze it.

Fried pies are so fun!  They remind me of the food at the state fair during this time of year where summer blurs into fall.  It’s not hot, it’s not cold, but there’s crispness in the air that tells you the seasons are changing.

Let's eat.


Again, this is the original recipe from my assignment.  Since my days in high school, I’ve certainly made my fair share of homemade fillings and I don’t look down on the canned stuff.  A lot of us grew up with those flavors and they remain a favorite for a lot of folks.  The same goes for pie crust.  Make your own or buy it – it’s completely up to you. It’s the method we’re really talking about here so you can choose whatever you like to fill and crust these little gems.  

Whip up the glaze first.  Just whisk together some powdered sugar and milk. I never use measurements for glaze for a few reasons.  I like to make it to my own preferred consistency depending on the recipe and more importantly, standard recipes almost never include enough glaze.  What's up with that?  Just make your own glaze the way you want to.  I like the glaze for these pies to be pretty thin so you can coat them evenly later.

 sweet stream of glaze

Roll or pat out your dough just a touch so it’s nice and flat.  Cut out circles or shapes (simple shapes work better) and lift the excess dough away.  You can use cookie cutters or a glass like I did here. You can make these into teeny tiny little bites or as large as you want.  I have a strange obsession with anything miniature (more on that later) so I prefer the smaller variety.

I used a sundae glass (always keep those around for ice cream emergencies)

Time to fill.  Do not overfill these.  Put the big spoon away. Your instinct will be, “the more filling the better!” but the truth is it will just seep out of your pies and destroy that cute little pouch you just made.  No one likes incontinent pies.  Exact measurements will vary depending on what cookie cutter or glass you use so I’ll illustrate what the crust to filling ratio should be:

Now you have all your little pies filled.  Aren’t they cute?  Now's a good time to get your oil heating.  Get about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a deep frying pan and set the heat a little higher than medium.  While the oil is heating, put the pies in the fridge to keep them easy to handle.  In a few minutes, they'll be ready for the hot tub.  Check your oil.  How do you know it’s ready?  You can certainly use a candy thermometer and it should read around 365 degrees.  I usually just flick some water in the pan and if it pops and sizzles, it’s ready.  Carefully slide your pies into the pan and don’t overcrowd them.  Listen for the sizzle.  Ah, yes.  If heaven had a sound, this is what it would be.  

Am I the only person that thinks "what else can I fry?"  whenever I'm frying something?

Now here’s where you need to use your judgment – after about 30 seconds, start checking these.  When they turn a deep golden brown, it’s time to flip.  These should take about one minute per side.  

Time to get these on a rack to cool.  You won’t find any flat plates and paper towels around here when I fry food.  Paper towels are the bane of fried food.  You just worked so hard to get that food crispy and by putting it on a mound of paper towels it will steam itself into a soggy, greasy abyss. Don’t do it! Instead, gently place your perfect little pies on a cooling rack that’s sitting on a cookie sheet.  Gravity will do the work for you in draining the grease and everything will stay nice and crisp.  Look!

The magic of gravity

Isn't that cool?  Plus, by doing this now you’ve already made it very easy to glaze these babies.

Good just got better

I do believe I got an A on this project.  Now, I have to take a bite.  You know, for the picture.  Don’t you want to see the inside?  OK, maybe two bites. Just to make sure you get to see all that fruity, gooey goodness.

I need a moment.

These will literally melt in your mouth. They are best served warm, are still really good at room temperature but are secretly amazing when they’re cold.  Like when you eat a piece of cold pie for breakfast.  Because everyone eats leftover cold pie for breakfast, right?

Easy Fried Pies

Store-bought refrigerated pie crust
Filling(s) of your choice (I used a combination of cherry, blueberry, and lemon here.  Cherry is my favorite!) 
Oil for frying - I use vegetable oil
Glaze - 1 cup of powdered sugar and a few teaspoons of milk.  Just add it until you get the right consistency (pictured above.  I never measure this)

Get out your pie crust and let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes.  If you try to roll out a super cold crust it may break on you.  When it starts to get soft, smooth it out into a circle.  

Cut out your pies.  I used a glass, but you can use a square, too if you want triangle-shaped pies.  It all works!  My pies were about 3 inches in diameter.

I used about a tablespoon of filling for each pie.  Don't overfill these!  It may not look like you have enough filling when you're doing this but I promise that you do.  If you overfill the pies, they never seal properly and they just open up when you cook them and you lose all the filling.

I shallow-fried these in a medium-sized skillet.  I used about a 1/2 inch of oil and heated it on medium-high heat.  The pies take about a minute per side and I only fry a few at a time.  

When the pies are golden brown, do not put them on paper towels!  That kills the crispyness.  As pictured above, put them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath the rack.  That will catch the grease and you can also pour the glaze on them right then and there.  

Now, what do you do with the leftover pie crust scraps, glaze, and filling you may have?  Here's what I do:

  • Filling - I serve it on ice cream
  • Pie crust scraps - I cut it into strips, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and bake at 350 until crisp.  
  • Glaze - I drizzle this on the baked pie crust scraps


  1. LOOKS YUMMY! How can I get them???

  2. Hi Amber! We should make them at Thanksgiving!

  3. Love it! They look awesome! You are such an amazing cook, but I am not suprised because you are amazing at just about everything. Love that you started this blog. I will definitely be reading it! Love, your proud to be your sister, sister

  4. Wow.. those look absolutely amazing!

  5. The pies are beautiful. I remember your junior year. The cooking class was the highlight. Your brother and sister and I enjoyed your practice. Congratulations on this new start.

  6. OH! The fried pies got us a lot of boyfriends over the years, now didn't they. Good times! I love everything you make!

  7. Fantastic post. I love the inclusion of you personal stories. For some reason I'm a bit intimidated by that. You do it so eloquently. Mine would be so cheesey!