Life has been as colourful as ever, but I don't know which colour to start with, so while I hem and haw about share-worthy things, I suggest you make some pies.
Why fried fruit pies?
- I love McDonald's pineapple pie. More than I like eating their hot fries with chocolate sundae.
- However, they stopped selling it sometime ago; then I stopped buying at McDonald's; and despite liking the convenience of fast food and pre-mixed, pre-everything anything, I actually avoid processed foods and junk edibles whenever I can (which may not be most of the time, but I try).
- Which led me to Google "McDonald's Apple Pie recipe". Two years later, I'm still using the recipe, and I make it quite regularly (whenever I feel up to a bit of rolling and filling pastry cases).
- It's my favourite driving snack. Of course I have to blog about it.
Before I found this recipe for the McDonald's pie pastry -- which is all over the internet BTW--, I tried another recipe for hand pies. It promised a flaky and scrumptious pastry, but was a pain to make. Anything that involves chilling butter and dough after each roll and step will of course be a pain if you live in tropical rainforest climate. Touch the pastry a few times, and it softens most exasperatingly. Besides, the recipe was meant for baked, not fried pies.
This recipe (shown below), on the other hand, is almost ridiculously simple to make that I couldn't believe the results. It really does taste like McDonald's pie. No chilling involved.
You will need:For the filling:
- Pineapple, one medium.
I used two Morris pineapples (for a double batch), but if you use nanas madu (the marvelous orange one pictured in the header), you will get slightly less flesh since the fruit is smaller (but definitely sweeter much more flavourful).
- Sugar, as little or as much as you please. Start with 1/3 cup maybe?
- Cornstarch, 1-2 tablespoons.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, because pairing the sweet and tangy filling with the pastry's saltiness is what makes fried fruit pie so yum. Do not skip the salt.
- 1/2 cup shortening.
I don't know which one puts me off more, butter or shortening. But shortening is the secret ingredient here: it is what makes the pastry flaky, easy to handle and just right for frying. (Substitute with butter if you want to use this recipe for baking). However, I always use half butter and half shortening for this pastry -- because shortening, for me, is not food, so I try to substitute it with something else whenever possible (a lot of American recipes, for instance, use shortening for deep frying. *Wrinkles nose*).
I don't like the taste of butter, plus it's animal fat (Biology ruined a lot of food for me); but shortening, while being vegetable-based, is also solid fat, and is flavourless to boot, which does nothing to mask its raison d'être: to be a type of edible solid fat. At least butter has that distinctive taste that people glorify so often (and which I dislike because it's so dairy).
So I compromise (or so I convince myself) by using half this and half that. The pastry will be much easier to handle if you use all shortening, though, since shortening stays solid at room temperature, and butter does not, especially in Malaysian room temperature.
Short story: if you have no issues with shortening, use shortening only.
- 1/2 cup cold water.
The colder the better. I usually put a container of water in the freezer and let it frost for a bit before using. Or just use iced water.
Here are the ingredients lists again:
- One pineapple
- Sugar, at least 1/3 cup, increase to taste
- Cornstarch, 1-2 tablespoons
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup very cold water
Basically, what you do here is simmer the fruit with some sugar, thicken it with cornstarch, et voilà (ay vwah-la)! You have pie filling.
But what's the use of having a blog if I only use one sentence to tell you how to make pie filling?
Hence the process shots.
(1) Peel the pineapple and remove the "eyes". Cut into small pieces. I like my pies to be rather small*, so to avoid any awkward chunks poking from underneath the pastry, make sure the fruit is cut really small, maybe into 1/2 inch cubes. Plus, you can fit in more fruit into the pastry cases if the filling is not overly chunky.
*sometimes I make them shaped like circular curry puffs, that's how small. But mostly I make them rectangular, because I don't want pineapple pies to look like curry puffs, you know? They're supposed to look like the McDonald's ones, not just taste like them.
(2) Dump the fruit into a saucepan and cook it over medium heat until the juice is drawn out (3).
The fruit will shrink as it simmers.
(4) Add sugar and simmer some more, until the liquid is syrupy and the pineapple turns a brighter yellow.
(5) Add cornstarch. Pictured above is the dumb way to add cornstarch. Do not be lazy and heap cornstarch onto the cooking mixture, like I did (I don't know what made me think I could get away with it this time. I had to fish out tiny lumps of cornstarch out of the filling and add more cornstarch properly after that. Probably it was the pressure of having to snap photos of food -- with my mother's phone, because that was the only camera available in the house then -- after every step. I don't know how food bloggers do it. Wipe hands, click click. Stir food, crack egg, wash hands and wipe, click click. Hurriedly puts down the camera so that food does not burn. Deliberately forgets to dilute cornstarch before adding into food. Click click anyway).
What you should do instead is: dilute cornflour in some water, and add that mixture to the fruit. Easy! Sorry there's no picture of me stirring cornflour with water.
(6) Stir until thickened and the liquid is transparent, and the filling is all gooey. If you like more goo, add more water and sugar after adding the cornflour (because you can't be certain just how liquidy the filling will be until the cornflour has thickened).
Cool the filling for a while. To make the pie-making process easier, half-freeze the filling before using, so that the liquid doesn't flow all over the pastry and make sealing the pies a major annoyance. I find it best to freeze the filling when it is still very warm, so the liquid will form fine crystals and become a half-solid slush, perfect for pie-filling, instead of freezing into a huge pineapple iceberg.
How to make the pastry
(1) Salt the flour and give it a good stir.
(2) Add shortening (and butter, if using).
(3) Cut the fat into the flour. I used a pastry cutter (that steel wire contraption in the photos), but before we had one, I used to cut pastry mixes using a knife and a fork.
(4) Keep cutting in the fat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (5).
For a closer look, click on the images.
(6) and (7) Add cold water and stir the dough.
(8) Stir mixture until the dough comes together.
(9) Knead the dough for just a bit so that the dough forms a rough ball that does not stick to the bowl (10). "Kneading" here simply means pressing the dough with your hands until it loses that shaggy look.
(11) Take out your beautifully half-frozen filling.
(12) Roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch-thick. It should be slightly thicker than a karipap case.
Or roll it to whatever thickness you want, it's your pie.
(13) Cut into rectangles. Again, the size is up to you, but I made pies a sound the size of a RM1 note, so I cut out rectangles that were double the size of a note, because we'll be folding the case in half to enclose the filling:
(14) Dump some filling onto half of the rectangles, taking care not to hit the edges. Sugary liquid will make sealing difficult, so stay clear of the edges.
(15) Slightly wet the edges using a fork dipped in water. Don't drench it, just dab some water so that the pastry edges will be glued together when you seal it.
(16) Bring over the unfilled pastry half to the other to enclose, then gently press the edges to seal. Use the tines or a fork to press the sides and seal it properly. You can now fry the pies, or freeze them for later use. I always freeze them because how many fried fruit pies can you eat in one sitting?
(17) I double-bag and label the pies before freezing.
(18) This is what frozen fruit pie looks like. If you freeze the pies, thaw them out before frying. Don't take them out of the freezer bags before thawing, or else condensation will appear on the pies, and that makes them soggy. Thaw them in the bags, and the water droplets will condense on the plastic bag surface instead.
The fried pineapple pie:
fried, arranged, photographed, Photoshopped.
Look at that flakiness!
This is like puff pastry without the endless folding, chilling and rolling.
(Now I just need a good Prosperity Burger knockoff recipe.
How do they make the burger patties so tender?)