If you're 30 years old or older, you've got to admit it—the McDonald's apple pies of your youth were some of the awesomest hot and sweet treats out there. Gooey, sweet, cinnamon-y filling with little chunks of soft apple, all encased in a flaky, crispy, deep-fried crust. There are a lot of things that McDonald's does wrong, but deep-frying isn't one of them.
Then, in 1992, the unthinkable happened: Ronald replaced his beloved fried apple pies with the vastly inferior, modern baked version. Pale and doughy, they simply don't compare with the apple pies of my youth. Now, I know that there are still a few McDonald's locations that deep fry their pies, and if you're one of the lucky few who live near such a franchise, you should count your blessings. But what are the rest of us to do?
Figuring Out the Secret to Fried Fruit Pies
My initial goal was to see if a nice McDonald's store manager would be willing to give me a raw apple pie so that I could throw it in the fryer myself. Unfortunately, as I found out in my previous attempts at pulling one over on The Clown, it's not an easy task to get your hands on raw materials (see The Burger Lab: How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries).
I had to settle for re-frying an already-baked pie instead.
For my first attempt, I simply dropped the apple pie into a pot of vegetable oil at 375°F—pretty normal frying range for things like empanadas and other stuffed pastries.
Unfortunately, I didn't account for the dusting of sugar and cinnamon that the pies have on their exterior. It rapidly burned, producing a pie that was crisp, but burnt to the point of being inedible.
Turns out the key is to go low and slow. A three minute bath in 300°F oil produced a crisp crust with the deep, burnished hue that immediately took me back to my childhood. Now that's the apple pie I remember!
This is now the second time I've fried fast food at home to produce a superior finished product (see re-fried Popeye's Fried Chicken).
Question of the day: Is there any piece of fast food that is not improved by deep frying?
Some serious investigation is in order.