According to Ronni Lundy, the author of Victuals, a beautifully written cookbook filled with stories of the foods of the Mountain South, fried pies are an Appalachian-born treat always made with dried apples. Across the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, generations have sliced fall apples and dried them on a tin roof for winter storage. Here, a mix of fresh and dried apples makes a chewy, spiced filling that happily folds into the tangy buttermilk dough and fries up flaky and sweet and utterly delicious. Look for dried apples that are plump and flexible, often found at health food stores. I spied some at my farmers’ market, dried by the apple grower himself. When I asked, he said it’s something his family has done for generations—without a dehydrator! Editors note: You will need a candy/deep-fry thermometer to assure that your oil is at the right temperature for frying.

Makes 12

  • 1½ cups (170 g) chopped peeled crisp tart apples like Gala or Pink Lady (2 medium)
  • ⅓ cup (70 g) packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup (42 g) dried apples, chopped
  • 1 batch Buttermilk Dough for Fried Pies
  • 2 to 3 cups canola or other neutral oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar

1. Stir together the fresh apple, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring all the time. Cook at a boil for about 8 minutes, until the apples have started to soften. Stir in the dried apples and cool completely.

2. Bring the dough to room temperature at least 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Place a few layers of paper towel on a rack set over a baking sheet.

3. Lightly dust the counter with flour and roll the dough to 16 by 12 inches, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 12 (4-inch) rounds. Place 2 tablespoons filling in the center of one round. Lift the round carefully, by the edges, and keep the filling securely in the middle while you fold the round in half and press together the edges. Place the pie back down on the floured countertop and enthusiastically crimp the edge with a floured table fork. Repeat until all the pies have been formed.

4. Heat 1 inch of oil to 350°F in a straight-sided deep heavy skillet. I use a 10-inch cast-iron pan.

5. In batches of three, slide the pies into the hot oil without crowding the pan. The pies will lower the temperature of the oil when they go into the pan, so adjust the heat accordingly, keeping the oil at 350°F to the best of your ability. Watch as they blister and crackle, turning the pies every 30 seconds with long-handled tongs, a spider, or a slotted spoon to avoid scorching. Fry until the pies are golden brown, blistered, and crispy, about 3 minutes, then lift from the oil and place on the paper towels to drain. Continue to cook all the pies in this manner.

6. Let the pies cool for a couple of minutes, shower excessively with powdered sugar, and serve to everyone who has now gathered around. The filling will be very hot, so be careful.

Excerpted from When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries from Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes by Cathy Barrow (copyright © 2019 by Cathy Barrow).  Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.