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Apple “Cup Pies!”

February 21, 2008

Boy, oh boy, oh boy…earlier this week, since I had President’s Day off, I decided to experiment with something that I’ve been excited about trying to make for a while now. Actually, ever since November — when the tv show Pushing Daisies introduced the idea of the “cup pie.” And now that I’ve had some cup pie success, I’m so excited to post this recipe!

What’s a cup pie, you ask? Think cute-as-a-button, little miniature single-serve pies, baked in a cupcake pan! The main character in Pushing Daisies is a pie-maker, and his girlfriend convinces him to add “cup pies baked with honey” to his menu. Besides the fact that I have a serious weakness for any “miniature” single-serve dessert, cup pies are for people who love the pie crust (like me) — there’s a slightly higher crust to filling ratio than regular pies. I was envisioning an exact replica of a full-size pie, with a fluted crust and decorative slits cut to let the steam escape included.


I have, for some reason, always been a little scared of making my own pie crust. There’s so much debate about flakiness, tenderness, butter vs. shortening, ice cold ingredients, etc. that I was always a little hesitant to jump right in and choose a method. But I bit the bullet and did it on Monday, and WOW were the results good. I used an all butter pie crust recipe (I’m not a big fan of shortening) from Gourmet magazine and it was so incredibly flaky, and tasted great, too (that’s what you get with butter.) I’m already thinking of other recipes to make with this pie crust.


I used a standard muffin cup tin, but spaced the cup pies out so their crusts wouldn’t touch each other; I also made sure to lightly butter the cups and rim around the tops, so the crust wouldn’t stick. It took me a few tries to get the hang of shaping them, but I think I finally managed to get a technique down — pressing the pie top down around the edges to firmly seal it was really key (my first run of this recipe resulted in a few loose tops!) I filled them with diced apples tossed with cinnamon and a little sugar. MMM.


I was so happily surprised, and pleased, at how cute they were! Exactly how I’d pictured them…fortunately, this was one kitchen experiment that went right!


I also noticed that this month’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by Rachel , was themed around pies — specifically, Pie That Evoke Your Dreams (it’s for a good cause this month, too; see the end of the post) — so I’ll be sending this post off to her for that event, and you can see all the posts on her site on the 29th. These little cup pies quite literally evoke dreams of the days when we can see some new Pushing Daisies episodes (thank goodness the writer’s strike is over! more on the cup pies!) — but more than that, the buttery-cinnamon-apple scent that filled my kitchen while they were baking evoked dreams of fiery red, gold and orange-colored leaves, crisp fall air, bright blue autumn skies, and comfort.


Apple Cup Pies


For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I put the sticks in the freezer for 30 minutes before starting)
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
additional granulated sugar to sprinkle on the tops

For the filling:
2 large apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
2 tsp flour

3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter
muffin pan

In a food processor, blend the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cubes of cold butter and process using short pulses until you get coarse meal. Add the water and blend using on/off pulses just until clumps are starting to form, or until you can pinch the dough and it holds together. If it looks a little dry, add a little more water (I found I had to use 1-2 more tbsp.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half then gather each half into a ball. Flatten the balls into disks, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least 1 hour.

Combine your diced apples, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and flour in a bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly butter the insides and around the top rim of your muffin cups – I found it easiest to use the cups that weren’t immediately adjacent to one another (see picture above.)

Take the first disk of dough and roll it out to about 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use the biscuit cutter to cut out 6 circles (I found I usually get about 4 circles out of the first roll, then I have to gather the dough and re-roll to get the remaining 2 circles.) Repeat with the second disk of dough, so that you have 12 circles total.

Make the cup pie bottoms by pressing 6 of the circles of dough down into the muffin cups, firmly pressing with your fingers to line the cup evenly (the dough will fold a bit on the sides, but just mold it with your fingers to follow the surface of the muffin cup.) Press the if needed so that it comes to the top of the cup (it’s okay if it goes a bit over in places.)

Divide the apple filling among each of the cup pie bottoms, mounding it in each cup.

One by one, place the remaining 6 circles over each cup pie. Firmly press down all around the circle where it rests on the muffin pan, up to where the filling begins — you want to ensure the top crust has adhered to the bottom crust. Flute the edges with your fingers using your preferred method (I usually take lay the index and middle fingers of my left hand on the edge of the crust and pull back on the dough between those fingers with the index finger of my right hand — you can kind of see in the picture above.)

Using a small paring knife, cut slits in the tops of each of the pies. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake an additional 15 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Take the muffin pan out and let it the pies cool, in the pan, on the cooling rack for about 30 minutes, then remove them from the pan to cool the rest of the way on the rack.

Makes 6 cup pies, with a little crust left over (you could bake it and eat it as cookies!)

Sound delicious? Check Rachel’s site for the roundup on the 29th, and perhaps consider making a contribution to a non-profit helping to transform the world of food through pie – Pie Ranch. Please specify “Pie Ranch/Green Oaks Fundโ€ in the “Designation” field of the online donation form (Pie Ranch is fiscally sponsored by the Rudolph Steiner Foundation) at:

66 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2008 8:03 pm

    These really are adorable. I haven’t tried pies in muffin tins. I love them though! Pictures…fabulous!

  2. February 21, 2008 9:24 pm

    These are so very adorable! I love pies too so I’ll definitely keep these in mind.

  3. February 21, 2008 10:34 pm

    these are too freaking cute! i am a fan of mini desserts, especially pies or cakes because i hate wasting food. i definetly want to try these out!

  4. February 21, 2008 11:01 pm

    I LOVED the idea of cup pies in Pushing Daisies, and I’m glad to know they work out so well!

  5. February 21, 2008 11:11 pm

    So cute! I love the intricate detailing. I can’t wait for more Pushing Daisies episodes. Aren’t you glad the strike is over!? More Chuck and the Pie Maker soon.

  6. February 21, 2008 11:12 pm

    Gretchen, thanks! The muffin tins did work out surprisingly well.

    Wandering Chopsticks, thank you — apple pie is one of the best desserts, I think!

    amanda – thanks! I really am a sucker for mini desserts, too. Let me know what you think if you give them a shot.

    Pam – I was crossing my fingers that they would! They always have really great pie flavors on Pushing Daisies, don’t they?

  7. February 21, 2008 11:13 pm

    girlieerin – thanks! Yes, I can’t wait for more Chuck and the Pie Maker.

  8. February 22, 2008 1:07 am

    Butter, cinnamon, high crust ratio, just darn cute…thanks for this delicious look into cup pies. Love it and even though they aren’t here, I can taste them now. Thank you for participating in SHF!

  9. Jess permalink
    February 22, 2008 6:26 am

    I grew up eating these, I can’t believe you’ve spent so many years missing out!
    I’ll be trying to make my own soon though, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. justopia permalink
    February 22, 2008 10:02 am

    This is great and so adorable. Living alone I am always looking for something “mini” that I can store in the freezer. It’s always such a waste when I make pie because most of it just can’t get eaten.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  11. February 22, 2008 10:09 am

    This looks so delicious!!! I’m not the best at cooking ever, but I’ll give this recipe a try during spring break! Thanks for putting this up!

  12. February 22, 2008 10:18 am

    Thank you so much for this post. This definitely is moving up to the top of my to-bake list. My heart just aches for Chuck and the Pie Man whenever I see them unable to touch each other. So sad!

  13. February 22, 2008 10:37 am

    These are too cute!! I will have to try these out one day.

  14. February 22, 2008 12:39 pm

    Eu quero! *_*

  15. JEP permalink
    February 22, 2008 3:59 pm

    Oh my, amazing & adorable!

  16. February 22, 2008 4:13 pm

    Wow, those are the definition of cute! They really look like something you’d get in a specialty shop, great job!

  17. February 22, 2008 9:58 pm

    Thanks, everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jess, those are really cute!

  18. February 23, 2008 5:39 pm

    These look fantastic. I’m definitely going to try them. I love individual serving of anything!!

  19. February 26, 2008 9:58 am

    Thanks, Cathie! Let me know what you think if you do try them.

  20. February 26, 2008 10:31 am

    I love little pies!! I made a similar one, but with a crumb topping. I am going to give your recipe a try too!

  21. February 26, 2008 6:07 pm

    Wow! What a great idea! I love that so much. I have been wanting to make little mince pies for my husband, but I never even thought of using a muffin tin. I love it!

    (I’m so happy I found your blog last week.)

  22. February 26, 2008 6:12 pm

    Amy – I was thinking as I made these how good a crumb/streusel topping would be. I think I’ll try that next. Let me know what you think if you do try them!

    Cafe Johnsonia – glad you like them (and the blog!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Little mince pies would be very cute.

  23. February 29, 2008 5:34 pm

    Oh. My. God! Those are adorable! I could be persuaded (very easily…ahem) to eat one or two of those.

  24. March 2, 2008 2:30 am

    These little cup pies look sooooo good Amy.

  25. March 2, 2008 9:52 am

    Cakelaw, thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. March 2, 2008 8:23 pm

    I LOVE these! What a great way to make pie…I too am a fan of the pastry and a high pastry to filling ratio is just the perfect thing. I am definitely going to be “stealing” this idea from you very soon.

    Thanks for joining in on SHF this month – it wouldn’t have been the same without you (hope to see you again next month!).

  27. March 3, 2008 7:42 am

    I like everything with apple and this cake is particularx the best

  28. March 12, 2008 11:30 pm

    Those are awesome! I never even considered putting a top crust on my pumpkin cup pies. It looks so great!

    Glad to see that you are another anti shortening person.

  29. March 13, 2008 9:12 pm

    Thanks, Jennifer!

    Linda, thanks.

    Stefani – yours are so cute! And yes, there’s no spot for shortening in my kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. April 17, 2008 11:11 am

    Hi There, I just stumbled accross your blog on by using stumbleupon and am loving the design! I dont normally stop at blogs relating to food as I already have 20 in my RSS feed and dont even have time to read them! I do like the design though and the use of photos is awesome. I started off blogging as well and always tried to keep a clean design like yours but it aint always easy with all the things you have to fit in! If you feel like showing off any of the cool food pics i’d love to see them on my site for foodies so as all the other foodies can see them! Keep up the good work on the design and happy cooking!

  31. Penney permalink
    April 18, 2008 11:35 am

    Can someone tell me how to pinch the dough so it looks nice. Mine look like a mess

  32. ashley permalink
    April 21, 2008 6:20 pm

    i love your recipe! i baked these for my math class on march 14th… (pi day)… get it 3/14 -3.14? anyways.. everyone loved them… i made around 48 and they were gone before 3rd period :D…

  33. Ms Cleaver permalink
    July 23, 2008 9:14 am

    I have totally wanted to make cup-pies since I saw that episode too – so cute!

  34. August 23, 2008 12:28 am

    Amazing! I will have to try these sometime.

  35. nikkigladd permalink
    October 22, 2008 8:28 pm

    Very cute and timely as I actually was thinking about this idea last night while trying to sleep! I’m so glad you posted a link to these again because it validated my desire to try this out! Yay!

  36. Alexandra G permalink
    November 23, 2008 11:18 am

    Those look amazing! I was a little intimidated by home made pie crust as well, but it really makes a difference.

    I like to add a whole bunch of chopped thyme into my dough- makes for amazing meat or vegetable pies.

  37. Alexandra G permalink
    November 23, 2008 11:22 am

    p.s. mini cup Tourtiรจres (french canadian meat pie) would be so cute, I’m definatly going to try that for around Xmas

  38. Katie permalink
    January 26, 2009 10:20 am

    I made these yesterday. They turned out pretty great! Cute & tasty, for sure! BUT- I needed a larger cutter than 3 1/2 inches. I went with 4 but had to roll each circle out a little more, after cutting, in order to cover the inside of my ‘what I thought was standard size’ muffin pan. Anyway, the crust baked well, the apples were tasty! I did end up with a lot of dough left over. I would say this recipe could probably make 12 pies, instead of just six. AND, next time I might add just a little more sugar and salt to the apple mix!

  39. January 26, 2009 10:27 am

    Katie – glad you liked them; the discrepancy was probably due to a difference in how thinly you and I rolled our dough. I myself am not a big fan of super-sweet pie fillings, but to each her own!

  40. ashley* permalink
    March 12, 2009 3:52 pm

    i made these last year for pi day.. and they were such a big hit.. people actually BEGGED me to make them again this year.. so im making more of these adoarable little pies tonight (:

    happy pi day everybody!! <333

  41. Kat permalink
    April 1, 2009 5:11 pm

    I have been wanting to make cup pies ever since i saw it on Pushing Daisies! (which I’m watching right now) Thank you so much! I’m going to make these as soon as i can!

  42. May 1, 2009 6:13 pm

    I will definitely have to try these, but no way will they come out looking so beautiful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. September 12, 2009 10:04 am

    This is such a wonderfully cute idea. Yours came out perfect! Great Job!

  44. corley permalink
    October 10, 2009 2:30 pm

    These are beautiful! I want to have pie at my wedding instead of cake, and these make me want to get a little DIY crazy. Tiny pies ARE NOT AFFORDABLE at my local bakeries. Have you tried any other fillings, like berries?

  45. Sara permalink
    December 4, 2009 11:57 am

    I love the way yours look. I was wondering if you have ever made them in the mini cupcake pans and can you use a kitchen aid instead of a food processor when mixing the dough?

  46. Livia permalink
    January 13, 2010 9:28 pm

    Do you think these will work with store-bought dough?

  47. January 27, 2010 11:23 am

    I love apple pie ..
    I copied everything to me times that recipe ..
    Mine is a bit different ..

  48. Becky Cochran permalink
    February 12, 2010 11:38 am

    well here’s one more idea ladies….make two small circles, something like a two inch circle, use refrigerated pie dough in a tube…on half of the circles cut out either two or four holes with a straw…now…put your favorite jam or jelly on the plain one, top with the one with holes and bake until done…you now have Button Cookies…they’re wonderful for kids or for your girly get togethers…cute huh? I’ve been making those for years, don’t even remember how I got the idea…came from a friend or something.

  49. Becky Cochran permalink
    February 12, 2010 11:38 am

    oh that pie crust is not in a tube, it’s in a carton silly am I?

  50. Stacey permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:48 am

    I am definitely going to try these — maybe even for Easter!! But the last line about using the extra pie dough brought me right back to my mom’s kitchen when I was a kid. We always made cinnamon sugar ‘cookies’ with the left over pie dough!!! Soooooo yummy – thanks for making me remember that.

  51. Katrina permalink
    May 23, 2010 12:18 am

    I just finished making some cup-pies, using your method and a recipe for Ned’s four-berry pie. While the filling was delicious, I had a lot of trouble with the method.

    I used a 3-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, but I found that made the circles just a mite too small. It was really hard pressing the dough up high enough so that it could really connect with the lid when I put that on. As a result, the tops popped off during baking and made a sticky, ruby-red mess on my muffin tins.

    Right now I have a second batch in the oven. I worked harder to press the bottom circles really thin, and then brushed water around the edges of that bottom crust before putting the lids on. From what I can see, that seems to be working better … except I’m worried that the bottoms will be too thin and the cup-pies will be difficult to remove.

    I really love this idea, though. I’m a big fan of Pushing Daisies, and though I’ve never really liked pie-crust that much, I found that this crust was delectable, and the crust-to-filling ratio was quite satisfying. So, I plan to try again in the near future–after buying 4-inch and 4-1/2-inch biscuit/cookie cutters. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. June 29, 2010 3:49 pm

    So adorable!!


  53. September 21, 2010 8:18 am

    These apple cup pies look so tasty ๐Ÿ˜‰

  54. Hope permalink
    December 29, 2010 12:23 pm

    these look adorable(: my sister and i are going to try these for a party on new years eve. i cant wait to see how they turn out! yayyy,,,….(: and pushing daisies is our favorite show! we recently got netflix so we’ve been watching it and we are about to watch season two now. thanks for the recipe!

  55. January 12, 2011 8:14 pm

    I miss you blogging regularly ๐Ÿ™‚ But, I made these today for friends tonight and they are fab! I used a large canning lid as a cutter and it was perfect. Only one top popped off and I was able to put it back on. Can’t wait to serve and eat them! Here’s a pic:

  56. Corrie! permalink
    April 4, 2011 1:34 pm

    These were perfect! It was just what I was looking for!(:

  57. May 30, 2011 2:40 am

    Thanks for the recipe. i wish i am this good with baking, though.

  58. September 11, 2011 10:14 pm

    it’s beautiful apple pie, i’ll try this recipes at home, thank’s.

  59. Nathalie permalink
    September 26, 2011 6:48 pm

    I made these today. They turned out so delicious, thank you so much for the recipe! I put little dough leaves on top, just for pretty decoration. ๐Ÿ˜€
    This is the final product:

  60. October 6, 2011 11:15 am

    I really love wordpress! thanks so much for such amazing recipes. With the Apple Cup Pies… I was wondering how I might make the crust without a food processor. I do have a kitchen aid mixer. Any suggestions!??

  61. October 31, 2011 3:04 am

    Thanks so much for the comprehensive recipe! I used an adapted version for my bumbleberry cup-pies! Please check it out if you get a chance!


  62. November 13, 2011 11:12 pm

    I just tried making this recipe and it was great. I didn’t have time to make the dough so I just bought pillsbury pie dough and used a cookie cutter to make the rounds. It came out really nice and everyone loved it. I do suggest that you butter the pans well though to make it easier to take the pies out. Some of mine got a little stuck, but nothing disastrous. I’m definitely going to make these again!

  63. March 14, 2012 12:32 am

    This is the third year in a row I’ve used this recipe–making cup pies and watching an episode or two of Pushing Daisies has become a March 14th tradition for me and my friends. Thank you!

  64. Taylor permalink
    January 12, 2014 11:52 pm

    Thankyou so much for giving me this recipe it saved my life when I found out I wrote the wrong date down for my school feast! This recipe was easy to follow quick and easy for each person to have there own little pie! I will definitely be making this again! Thankyou! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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