I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time now ever since I saw it on one of my favourite cooking shows on PBS, A Chef’s Life with Vivian Howard. Her recipes are very straight forward, and her attention to ingredients, always local and usually inspired by her own regional cuisine of N. Carolina is what draws me to her programme.
You can see her original recipe for applejacks, a sort of fried apple turnover, here. My original intention was to make the same recipe except instead of using dried apples, I planned to use dried crabapples. I never did locate the crabapples I was sure I had, so went for the apples after all. However, instead of using 2 cups of cider, I diluted a bit (about 1/2 cup) of crabapple preserve in the required amount of liquid. I’m sure her recipe is excellent, but I found that the preserve did add a lot of fruit flavour, to say nothing of the deep red colour. If you don’t have crabapple preserve, I feel quite confident in suggesting you just use the 2 cups of cider with 1 cup of water for the liquid as she does even though I haven’t tried that myself.
I fully intended to follow the original recipe by frying the applejacks, but I lost my nerve once I had them all assembled. I really don’t enjoy frying things, so I just brushed them liberally with butter and baked them. The crust is very easy to make, and because it’s made with hot water it is resilient and very crisp. You can roll these out super thin, making them less rich than a regular pie crust.
For the filling:
2 cups dried apple pieces
1/2 cup crabapple preserve diluted in 3 cups of water
OR 2 cups of cider and 1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1 organic lemon
juice of 1 lemon
For the pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup lard
2/3 cup hot water
butter for brushing the tops
Combine everything except the lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer until the water is absorbed and the mixture is the texture of a thick applesauce. Remove from the heat and mix in the lemon juice. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile make a well in the flour and put the lard in the centre. Begin by pouring about half the hot water into the bowl and mix it all together with your hands. Add water as needed until you are able to form a ball with it. Wrap it in a damp towel and set aside for about half an hour.
Roll the pastry very thin on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin as the dough is quite wet. Cut out circles of about 4 inches in diameter. Place about 2 Tbsp of filling just south of the middle, fold over and seal with the tines of a fork. Brush with some melted butter. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry browns.
Makes about 24 applejacks.