As most children do, I looked forward to holidays mainly for the tasty, once-a-year foods they brought. That is normal, right? Well, the best thing about Thanksgiving, in my view, was that it was the one time of the year I could be sure my mom would bake a cookie-sheet apple pie. For those who haven’t had this, let me explain… Apple pie in a cookie sheet is superior to everyday round apple pie for two reasons: The crust to filling ratio is higher, since the dish is more shallow, and for some strange reason, pie tastes better when cut into squares than wedges.
I lingered in the kitchen every Thanksgiving Eve while my mother peeled and cored the apples, measured out the spices, and mixed the dough. She made a huge dough batch and cut diagonal strips of it to make a lattice on top, which I always watched her interlace with awe. The elaborate pie-making process was heightened by my anticipation of eating the corner slice the next day. And I always got at least one of the corners.
Every now and then when I’m feeling moody, or I’ve got the Mean Reds, I remember that a pastry wrapped around baked apple is the ultimate in homemade therapy. Though I haven’t yet mastered the art of making a “real” pie crust, complete with lattice, I can make a quick mock-up of my mom’s apple pie, now veganized as well! And, today it occurred to me that if pie corners are good, pie with edges all around must be even better! So I made some apple tarts instead of a cookie sheet pie this time. Of course, you’re welcome to use this recipe in a plain ol’ round pie tin as well.
The pie filling is loosely based on my mother’s recipe. The pie crust is taken from The Joy of Vegan Baking. (Shortbread Crust, page 213.)
Thinly slice 5 green apples into a large bowl. (You don’t even have to peel them. But if you’re doing the mini-pies in the muffin tin, as I did, you may want to cut your apple slices in half, otherwise they may not fit.)
Drizzle the sliced apples with some lemon juice. If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, apple cider vinegar works just as well. Add some soy milk (or rice milk, etc) as well. There should be a puddle of liquid at the bottom of your apple bowl. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and some sugar, about 1/8 cup or a bit more to taste. (I used coarse grain, but you can use fine, or even brown sugar if you like.) Stir the apples until the cinnamon-sugar coats them evenly.
Set the apples aside to marinate while you mix the dough.
Divide your dough in half, those halves in half, and those into thirds so you have 12 equal blobs of dough. Press each into the bottom of the muffin tin until the dough starts to come up the sides. Don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the top, just spread it as evenly as you can, and be sure there are no holes in the bottom.
Now bake the crust, empty, for about 20 minutes at 350. (I pulled the tin out halfway through to re-shape them.) When the bottoms start to look more opaque, fill them with the apple mixture. Over-fill them, in fact. Spoon the remaining juice over the apple pies. Bake again for 15-20 minutes. Let the tiny pies cool in the tin for a while before sliding a knife around them to loosen and remove.