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Recipes From The Bottle Tree – Fried Apple Pies

One of the finest things I have ever eaten is a Fried Apple Pie. These aren't the kind you buy in the convenience store, overly sweet, with a crumbly crust and covered in a glaze. Instead, these are made with real fruit, usually dried, and the taste of the fruit bursts in your mouth as opposed to the store bought kind that are cloying.

This recipe, slightly modernized as lard is not used, would be the same one used by Johnny Robinson's grandmother and the ones which Ukiah loved so much in the book,  The Bottle Tree  .

It is extremely hard to find anyone that still makes these but they are well worth the trouble!

The ones I like the best used reconstituted dried fruit, since that is the old fashioned way, but today it is cheaper and easier to use fresh fruit. Likewise, the old fashioned recipe used lard instead of butter and incidentally, lard gives you a flakier crust than anything else.

The best recipe I found was the one from the Foxfire books, but unfortunately I've loaned those to someone and don't have access right now. However, this is another recipe that is extremely close to the old fashioned one and almost impossible to tell any difference:

The Filling:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced, or 8 ounces dried apples
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water (1 cup if using dried apples)
  • 3/4 cup oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

The Pie Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten

1. To make the filling with fresh apples, combine apple slices, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 20 minutes. To make the filling with dried apples, combine the dried apples, sugar, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the apples are soft and syrupy, about 30 minutes.

2. On a floured surface, roll out half the pie dough out until you have a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 4-inch round cutter to cut out as many circles as you can.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold dough over to form a half-moon. Using the tines of a fork, press down on the edges to seal them. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Working in batches, fry the pies, turning them once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve the pies warm or cool. The best ones I have ever eaten were snuck from a plate covered with a "dish towel" from my great grandmother's pie safe.

Yield: Makes 20 to 24 pies.