The Great Minnesota Get Together, also known as the Minnesota State Fair is a staple to my summertime schedule. It is an event that brings all sorts of people together from all over the state for live stock, entertainment, shopping, people watching, and of course, food. I enjoy looking at the animals and wandering through the throngs of sweaty Midwesterners, but my true focus and purpose for going to the fair is to eat. This year I didn’t have a group or the funds to thoroughly eat myself into a diabetic coma so I relied on old favorites and this Heavy Table list of things to try, the most interesting for me as a pie baker was the Minneapple deep fried apple pie from Minne’s Diner in Rogers, MN.
Now, I’ve been experimenting all summer with deep frying, mostly focusing on donuts, but I’d never thought about deep frying pies. The potential for deliciousness was outstanding. And both Heavy Table and the Sweet Rush Baker both endorsed it. How could I go wrong?
Well, Pretty Boy and I made it to the fair and got ourselves one Minneapple pie with a cinnamon ice cream. The pie was huge and quite full of very sweet, very cinnamon-y filling. Of all the components, the filling was the part I enjoyed the most. The apples still had good texture, but I would have preferred more apple flavor. The pie was liberally sprinkled with a cinnamon and sugar mixture that imparted so much cinnamon on the top of the pie that it left me with a dry, bitter aftertaste. I was the most critical of the crust. To me, it seemed more like a bread crust than a pastry crust which I suspected was because of the incompatibility of frying and the delicate nature of pastry dough. It was fried perfectly but the texture was not as light and flaky as I like my pie crust. I think that light and flaky pie crust is one of the pivotal defining aspects of good pie, and I wasn’t ready to disregard that in exchange for deep frying if that was the trade off.
We didn’t eat the cinnamon ice cream. And I love ice cream and hate wasting food. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Minneapple pie was ok. I would put it on my list of special, different, interesting things to eat at the fair once a year, but probably not much more than that. And after my summer of frying experience, I was pretty sure I could make my own fried pie.
I found this recipe (along with several, several others) for Deep Fried Apple Pies on the Food Network website, which has a hand pie dough recipe surprisingly similar to my crust recipe. The first time I made fried pies, I used Emeril’s dough recipe though I used a food processor instead of a stand mixer. For the filling I used a can of blueberry pie filling that had been sitting in my kitchen for too long, an improvised filling of mulberry and rhubarb because those were the two fruits I had in the freezer, and eggs and sausage because I was serving some for breakfast. The dough was slightly tougher and malleable which was good when it came to assembling the pies. I baked a few per the instructions in Emeril’s recipe and deep fried the rest.
Holy crap! I made some seriously tasty little pies. The crust was great, crispier than baked pie crust but still light and flaky. The fillings were nothing special but proved that I could deep fry a hand pie and not compromise on the texture of the crust. My pies were not as large or as full as the Minneapple pie and if I wanted to make them any bigger or more full, I think I would have to start modifying the crust to accommodate. Betty Deville came over for breakfast along with some other friends and small children to try the pies. Everyone approved and strongly preferred the fried pies to the baked hand pies. I huge success and one I plan on adding to my menu of pie options.
This last weekend I was back in the kitchen and made apple, peach, and mulberry rhubarb fried pies. For the dough, I merged my pie crust recipe and the recipe from Emeril: the differences being a 1/4 cup more flour and a tablespoon of white vinegar. I used Emeril’s recipe for the apple filling and modified it with ground ginger instead of cinnamon for the peach filling. I also improved my technique and process for rolling out the dough circles and assembling the pies. The pies have to be assembled shortly before frying because the dough will start to get soggy if they sit for too long. The filling also has to be fairly thick otherwise it will prevent the inside of the crust from getting cooked full and make it a little doughy. I am also still learning to manage my deep fryer (a cast iron skill with a fry thermometer over a gas burner) and keep the temperature good and consistent.
Learning curve aside, I love these little pies and as I am adding them to my menu, they were properly christened: Sassy Pies.