Fall has come to Southern Connecticut, so of course I went to the apple orchard, but not just any orchard. I went to Lyman’s Orchard in Middlefield, CT., which treats their trees organically as much as they can and follows earth friendly planting methods for their other vegetables and fruits as well. I went with my church’s international mission team and 108 international students from the University of Bridgeport, where I teach composition and rhetoric. Most of the students are from China and India or some other Asian country and their delight in getting out into the countryside was adorable to see.
Lyman’s orchard manager gave us guidance on what kinds of apples were good for pies, or eating or applesauce. When we began walking through the orchard, signs on every apple corridor told us what kind of apple we were picking. Next thing I know I hear shrieks of laughter and see my asian students running up and down the lanes calling to each other, “Come over here. Here are the MacIntosh – so sweet for eating and make sweet pie.” They had so much fun searching for pie apples, eating apples, and discovering mixed types of apples.
Most of the apples were small, firm, blushy and sweet smelling. The heady perfume of apples was everywhere. All around the orchard were the mountains that to me looked like the Virginia Blue Ridge where I had lived and raised my family. It was a magical day.
When I came home I plopped on the sofa a bit exhausted and saw that my favorite show, The Chew, was on and Clinton Kelly was making something called apple pie bites. He made it look so easy that I could not wait to try them. I needed to bake for my Wednesday morning Bible study the next day, I had a basket of gorgeous apples and here was Clinton’s oh so easy recipe – what could be better?
Well folks, those bites were very time consuming since I didn’t have Carla, Mario Battali, Simon and Clinton taking turns putting the pie bites together. I tried to recruit my grandchildren, who usually love helping in the kitchen, but of course now, when I really needed them, they started to whine, “Why do we have to help?” and wandered away to play with my cats.
My suggestion to you is to make these with a slew of children or invited friends to make the process go faster, but you may have to bribe your helpers. Of course no bribery was needed when it came to tasting the pie bites. Then all hands were on deck.
1 pkg Pillsbury pie crust or Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry or both (I used both)
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced up into small dice
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425°Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon until sugar is permeated with cinnamon throughout.
Peel, core and dice up the two apples into small dice and place in a bowl. I sugared mine, but CLinton did not. Set aside.
On a slightly floured surface (I use a wooden cutting board covered with wax paper sprinkled with flour), unwrap the pie crust and lay flat. Use just one pie crust at a time. Cut the edges off the round crust until the crust is a square.
Using a sharp serrated knife or a pizza cutter, divide the pie crust into 3″ squares.Using a pastry brush, brush each square with melted butter.
Sprinkle each square with cinnamon and sugar, reserving one tbsp of the sugar mixture for later.
Working with one square at a time, place a few teaspoons of diced apple in the center of the buttered and sugared square. Bring the ends up as if making a turnover. Then bring the other ends up to meet in the middle. Pinch together the side lines formed when both ends meet in the middle. Make sure all the apple is enclosed and all sides are pinched together.
Brush the apple pie bite with melted butter and then sprinkle with a bit of the leftover cinnamon sugar.Place each bite on the parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated 425° oven until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. You can serve them warm or cold. I sprinkle mine with powdered sugar and I warm them for 20 seconds in the microwave when I want to eat a leftover apple pie bite.
Note: The pie crust is delicious, but the puff paste crust is divine. Try them both and decide for yourself.