Fried pies are a real Southern dessert staple and if you are from the South, whether you grew up on a farm or in the city, they are something in which you are very familiar. It is part of our Southern heritage. Fried pies are filled with fruit such as peaches, cherries, apple, or more commonly, apricots.
This recipe is an old recipe that originated from a family maid many years ago. This is her original recipe and we haven’t changed a thing. The crust uses lard and if you are a baker, you know that Southern bakers, years ago, used lard in their baking. The farmers, living off their land, would render their own lard. The result is a flakier crust, which is why we still use it today. Many people opt to use Crisco today, which is also fine.
We loved to help Mom prepare these pies. All of the girls would gather in the kitchen to help Mom prepare the dough, roll it out, cut circles using a round saucer, spoon the filling on one side of the dough, fold the dough over, and seal the edges. My mother would brown them in her large cast iron skillet at her big black Wolf Stove. As they came out of the hot skillet, we would line them up on the kitchen counter to cool. A large glass of cold milk and one of these pies is a perfect match and they are even better the following day!
For the apricot filling:
12 ounces Dried Apricot Halves – soaked overnight
1 cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
Soak the apricots 4-6 hours, or overnight, so they absorb all of the water.
Add sugar and cook over low heat bringing to a boil.
Add 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon and allow to simmer until the mixture comes to a thick marmalade texture.
Remove from stove and allow apricots to cool slightly.
For the pastry dough:
3 cups flour
1 cup lard
6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt
Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in lard with pastry belnder or 2 forks until crumbly. Sprinkle cold water, one tablespoon at a time, evenly over the surface. Stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Add 3 tablespoons of the cold water and add additional tablespoons one at a time as needed. To make sure you’ve added enough water, squeeze dough between your fingers. If dough falls apart, gradually add additional tablespoons of water.
Shape dough into a flattened disk.
Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured surface.
Place a 5-inch in diameter saucer plate over dough and cut around the saucer.
Fill a cast iron dutch oven or cast iron deep skillet with 2 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees. You don’t need a thermometer for this….just sprinkle some flour into the pot and if it sizzles, you are ready.
Place 3 tablespoons of filling onto round crust.
Dip your finger into water and run the tip of your finger over the edge of half of the inside circle of the dough, which will help the dough adhere to itself when you fold it over.