Apple Cranberry Hand Pies and a Crisp to boot

Hello everyone, Jess here.  Did you ever just have one of those days?  

This morning, I woke up with grandiose plans to try making some apple cranberry hand pies. I have such fond childhood memories of Nan rolling out pie crusts for her famous apple pie. Nan always had a little dough left over that she used to fill with preserves and bake on the side.  A fellow Springdellian and I were chatting about hand pies following the Savor In Style Festival, as there was a truck that was selling them (and they were delicious!) 

I figured this was no-brainer.  I’ve made apple-cranberry pie before, it really just took adding some fresh cranberries to Nan’s apple pie recipe.  I’ve also had luck adding some homemade whole cranberry sauce to the pie filling with good results.  Could hand pies be just as easy?  The boys were going to be off to swimming lessons and Karate class, and I was going to have the whole kitchen to myself for almost 2 hours to whip up some yummy to-go desserts.  Unfortunately, I ran into some snags along the way (which I’ll share about now, so when it’s your turn, you can avoid them!)

It seemed to me that as hand pies cook a little quicker than a full pie, I could either opt to dice the apples fine so that they cook through, or cook up the filling a bit before filling the dough.  I chose the latter option as I like big chunks of apple as opposed to the tiny dice. 


I started making the cranberry part of the filling, for which I used about 2 cups of cranberries, 1/2 cup of water (offset by a squeeze of orange juice) and 1/2 cup of sugar.  I gently boiled it all until the cranberries popped and the sauce began to thicken, about 10 minutes from the time of the boil.  (Had I not been hoarding my cranberry sauce preserves for the winter, I could have opened a jar and skipped making this filling, as this is about the same ratio that I use to make sauce.) 

imageMeanwhile, I sliced thin chunks of about 6 large apples, adding these to a pot with about 2-3 tablespoons worth of melted Amish Roll Butter.  After coating the apples in the butter, I added in about 1/3 cup of white sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, continuing to stir before adding about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Once the apples were softened, I added the cranberry mixture to the apples.  The good part about this step is that you can choose how cranberry you want your filling, and save whatever you don’t use for enjoying as a simple cranberry sauce.  I chose to add all 2 cups and it was sweet and tart in all the right places.  So far, this is easy!  I am even upping the convenience by opting for a pre-made pie crust today!  


The filling tastes great.  So far, so good.  So where does this all go awry?  When I add my warm filling to my cold pie crust.  The filling melted right through the crust.  I cooked it anyway, and hadn’t planned on taking a photo as this was not the most attractive dessert I’ve made here.  However, in the interest of real-time and honest reporting, here is my first attempt at the cranberry-apple hand pie.


I began to panic after realizing that I’d have to wait for the filling to cool before I could bake these up.  The rest of my day was pretty booked, what to do, what to do!??


When things look bleak, grab some Amish Roll Butter!  I mixed a cup of oats, a cup of flour, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and a good slice of cubed butter, my go-to crisp topping.  I use my fork and knife to cut the butter into the other ingredients before piling it onto some of the filling.


Here is the filling awaiting some crisp topping.


Here is the rest of the filling going into the fridge for later when I again have a moment to attempt the hand pie. (This is actually just enough filling to make 4 pies out of one box of pre-made pie crust).


350 degrees for 30-ish minutes until the crisp was golden and bubbly, and we have a dessert, just as the boys arrived home and a whole different kind of chaos began.  image

After the rest of the day’s antics, I went back to again attempt the hand pie. These are not as graceful as Nan’s lovely turnovers of yesteryear, but at least I attempted that cool little fork edge thing that she does.


Ok these came out pretty good after all! A little more browned than I would have liked, but that’s what happens when you have a house full of rowdy boys and a short attention span. May your journey with the hand pie be more convenient than mine, I hope this helps!

Apple Cranberry Hand Pies (and a crisp to boot)
This recipe makes LOTS of extra filling for 4 hand pies (enough for an entire extra apple cranberry crisp). I'll keep the ratios the same, but you may opt to use extra pie crust to make more pies, or use the extra filling for a crisp as I did in the blog post. You can even enjoy the filling as-is with some whipped cream. As always, there are lots of opportunities to make it your own!
  • For the Cranberry part of the filling (you can opt to skip and use whole homemade cranberry sauce if you have some on-hand)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water (& orange juice is optional - so long as liquids add up to ½ cup, you can play with the ratio of juice to water)
  • For the Apple Filling
  • 2 Tbsp butter, up to 1 tbsp more if needed
  • 6 large apples, peeled and sliced into thin chunks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 box of 2 pre-made pie crusts
  • butte/spray/shortening for greasing the pan
  1. For the cranberry filling - Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring and gently boiling until all of the cranberries pop and the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes from the time of the boil. (or open a jar of whole cranberry sauce and skip this step)
  2. Melt butter into a large pot before adding the apple slices. After coating the apples in the butter, add white and brown sugar and stir before adding cinnamon. After the apples soften, (5-10 minutes), add the cranberry mixture to the apple mixture, tasting and adding until just tart to your liking. Cool completely.
  3. Bring the crusts to room temperature. Roll the prepared crusts into slightly larger circles before cutting into quarters. Add about ¼ cup of the filling to each quarter before folding and crimping the sides shut with the tines of a fork. Cut several small slits in the top of each pie and place in a greased baking pan in the oven at 350. Check after 25 minutes and remove once the pies are just golden brown. (Careful, filling will be hot!)



About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A long time member of Springdell and a busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food.

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