Dumpster Fire Apple Pie

This little experiment has been going on for a few month’s now. The first attempt was February 12th, followed by an undated / undocumented second attempt, and finally a third attempt for Pi Day 2017 — which ended up being coworker-approved once I caveated the pie-share with the disclaimer that it was totally experimental.

But they ate it, and didn’t get sick, so I’m categorizing it a success. 😀

I got the idea from Jamela Porter‘s (“Reviews by Pink”) Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread, which was of minimal success for me due to dough / pie crust being pretty darn tricky in the IP — since technically it wants a dry environment, and not a sauna like what happens for IP cooking. Mostly the problems I had were with it being under-cooked, even after I put it back in for more time… and I got impatient and finally just ate it as-is instead of putting it back on for a third time.

So I got to thinking (dangerous, I know!) about how I could accomplish similar — but with the dough being “less thick”, so it had a better chance of actually cooking.

A few weeks earlier I had experimented with two boxes of frozen Pillsbury Apple Turnovers in the IP, because they’d literally been sitting in my freezer for years, due to needing to be cooked in the oven at 450 — but my toaster oven only goes to 400. They too had to go back into the IP multiple times for additional cooking time, due to the dough being severely under-cooked.

But I figured with those experiments under my belt, and the pull-apart bread experiment being under my belt, that maybe I could MacGyver something together that could be mostly edible.

Bare-Minimum Supplies Needed

Helpful Additional Supplies

Equipment Setup

The first thing I did was MacGyver together a system of getting the pies stacked inside my IP, without risk of them tipping over.

I started with my 6″ diameter Very Short-Leg Metal Trivet that I got from Amazon (because at the time, I only had one of the 8″ trivets mentioned below), followed by two of these Mini Springform Pans, and then my Very Tall-Leg Metal Trivet.

I wanted to make sure that there was plenty of clearance between the layers since I had no idea if the dough would expand. I also wanted to make sure the layers were stable, and that pans on top wouldn’t tip over.

Pro-Tip: It doesn’t expand, so you could actually use a second short-legged trivet, or even Stainless Steel Chopsticks to separate your layers.

Next, for stability, I added a bigger-diameter Short-Leg Metal Trivet:


Lastly, I finished up with my final layer of pans:

Note: If you have an 8 Quart, you might be able to fit three-per-layer.

I can only fit two-per-layer in my 6 Quart.

Ingredients Prep & Assembly:

For the crust, I totally cheated and just used refrigerator cinnamon rolls. 😀

The filling was a simple combination of apples, butter, sugar, cinnamon.  I assembled the filling first, and set it aside so the sugar could work its magic and start liquefying the apples.

It actually liquefies pretty substantially, so for subsequent experiments I assembled the crusts first, then the filling.

The hardest part of this recipe was dealing with the “crust”.

My first experiments rolled out each cinnamon roll as much as possible…

And then overlapped two layers. As you can see below, that caused some “gaps” around the edges, which led to leakage. 

For subsequent attempts, I instead smooshed two cinnamon rolls together, flattening them with the palm of my hand, and then rolling them out as a single crust. The trick is getting the resulting shape to be round. I kept getting ovals, which results in low spots around the edges, and filling leakage.

The other big problem I had was the dough kept warming up and getting super sticky. So subsequent attempts included storing the tube of rolls in the fridge, and fetching individual pieces only as I was ready to roll them out. Once they were rolled out and in the pans, the pans went into the fridge so the crust could firm-up while I continued working.

Once all the crusts were ready, I filled them up, then assembled my tower in the IP.  This is what it looked like just before I closed the lid on the first experiment:

I cooked them on High Pressure for 40 minutes. You’ll probably need to experiment and see what works best for you. My standards are pretty low — so I am perfectly willing to accept a “mostly done” crust.

There was unfortunately a lot of leakage due to the crust not being of even height all the way around. Since I’ve not successfully solved that problem (I just cannot seem to make the dough be a big enough diameter, no matter how hard I try!) for all subsequent experiments I’ve wrapped each pan in aluminum foil — from the bottom, up — so that the foil can contain the drips.

The bulkiness of the foil wrapping also helps with the layering and stability, so on my last attempt I actually just used the one trivet on the bottom, and then just put the pans in and stacked them on top of each other.

Here’s what they looked like hot-outta-da-pot from my first experiment. Note the crust-shrinkage: 

Also note that I am cooling them on a plate, and not a wire rack. This is to contain the leakage.

This is a top view after they’ve had time to cool. In this photo you can get a better view of how the crust has pulled away from the pan as it cooked, which most certainly contributed to the leakage problem.

And finally, the pre-NOM photo:

As the lighter/shiny parts reveal, some areas are cooked better than others — without much rhyme or reason that I can determine. Maybe the less-cooked parts pulled away from the pan sooner? Or maybe later so were in the moist environment longer? I have no clue.

And maybe if I was more patient and cooked them for 60 minutes instead of 40 minutes, it would be less doughy. But, hello: Pie. Really, all I was looking for in the crust was for it to act as a containment device — and, as I’ve previously indicated, I have pretty low standards. 😀


Totally Cheating Dumpster Fire Apple Pie

For entertainment purposes only; it’s not my fault if you get sick from under-cooked dough!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. Under-cooked dough can make you sick! By continuing to read the text below you are taking sole responsibility for your actions, and absolve me of any and all harm (including emotional, psychological, and gastro-intestinal) that may come to you as a result of you actually thinking it was a good idea to try a recipe called Dumpster Fire Apple Pie!


For the apples, I used Washington apples because that’s what I had already purchased. After a little research about pie-apples, alternative varieties are Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, and Granny Smith. (But if using Granny Smith, you’ll probably want to increase the sugar a little bit.)

  • 1 tube Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls
  • 6 cups chopped apples (about 4 medium apples)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon, or more, to taste
  • water (for the Instant Pot)
  • flour (for the rolling pin and work surface)


Prepare the Crusts

Flour a wooden cutting board (or pastry board) and rolling pin. Reserve additional flour for continued flouring, as needed, to prevent sticking as you work.

Open the tube of Cinnamon Rolls, remove the icing, and set aside or discard.

Remove two segments of cinnamon roll from the tube, and return the tube to your refrigerator (this helps prevent dough from getting too sticky to work with).

Keep the two segments of cinnamon roll connected / atop one another.  Put them on your work surface, then flatten as best you can with the heel of your hand. Use a rolling pin to continue flattening and shaping the dough until you end up with an appropriate sized “pie crust” for your mini springform pans.

Once sufficiently shaped, place your dough into one of your mini springform pans, making sure that it comes at least halfway up all the way around the side of the pan — then put the pan into the refrigerator.

Remove two more segments of cinnamon roll from the tube, and repeat the above process (including returning the tube to the refrigerator) until you’ve used all 8 segments from the tube to make crusts for the 4 mini springform pans.

Prepare the Filling

Core your apples, peel them, quarter them, and then chop them.

Put chopped apples into a medium to large microwave safe mixing bowl..

Add the the white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Add the butter, then put the bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until butter is mostly melted.

Mix again, until butter is fully incorporated.


Remove your pans / crusts from the refrigerator.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to evenly divide the filling among the pans. (Approximately three scoops of filling per mini pie.)

Cover each pie tightly with aluminum foil — wrapping from the bottom, up, so the foil contains any leaks.


Put the inner liner into the base of your Instant Pot.

Add 1 cup of water to the inner liner, and then add a very short-legged trivet (just tall enough to keep the bottom of the pans out of the water).

Carefully place 2 of the pans on top of the trivet. (If you have an 8-Quart Instant Pot, you might be able to fit 3 on the bottom.)

Use additional trivets, stainless steel chopsticks, or other items as necessary to create a stable support for a second layer of mini pies.

Add your second layer of pies, close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to Sealing.

Cook on High Pressure, for 40 to 60 minutes. (For earlier models of IP, use the “Manual” button. For newer models, use the “Pressure Cook” option.)

When the cooking time has finished, turn the valve to venting to do a Quick Release (and then don’t forget to press Cancel to end the cooking/keep-warm cycle).

Use a toothpick to test for doneness of the apples, and to inspect the crust. If it is not to your satisfaction, put it back in for more time.

For me the crust had started pulling away from the sides of the pan, and I could see that the outside edge of the crust had mostly become firm. A small ring of the inside edge (filling-side) of the dough was a darker (less cooked), but it did firm up a little more just from the residual heat once removed.

Cool, Chill & Serve

Carefully remove each pie to a plate (not a wire rack; they could be leaking a little).

Allow the mini pies to cool, undisturbed, for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Un-form the springform pans and remove the outer rings. Gently use a butter knife to lift up each pie and remove the bottoms of the springform pans.

Allow the pies to continue cooling for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, to give the filling time to finish setting up before eating — or refrigerate for later use.

Serve plain, or with vanilla ice cream. (If you have a sweet tooth, warm the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls and drizzle over the top of each pie.)


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  • Beth Fuchs

    Sounds yummy! You did a ton more work than I would have done on them. I’d have totally cheated and used the refrigerated pie crusts instead of cinnamon rolls, but I know the cinnamon rolls made it taste better because of all the cinnamon and butter/grease. I remember someone mentioned that they had done some “dry” cooking the other day in their IP by not sealing the lid and not adding water. They used the saute more function and they were able to cook something rather than steaming it. Wonder how something like that would work here?

    • Jen Neefer

      Anyone who has earned the Forgot the Water badge has done “dry cooking”. It does not get very hot at all without pressure. (I had ribs in for two cycles without the water, wondering WTF, and after 2+ hours they were maaaaaybe 30% cooked.)

  • Connie Richardson

    You are a brave woman Jen!

    • Jen Neefer

      Haha — how’s that? Brave for having low standards and being willing to eat under-cooked dough? 😀

  • Marissa

    Not to be a jerk … cause I adore this blog, and I’m looking out for you… you might want to add a funny disclaimer about eating under cooked stuff… in bold, in caps, italics …on the top. Cause you know …. some people don’t people very well.

    • Jen Neefer

      Well I did include my standard disclaimer immediately under the recipe title about being for entertainment purposes only, and even added “it’s not my fault if you get sick from under-cooked dough!” — but per your suggestion I have made that already-there text bigger, changed the font color to be red, and even added a whole additional paragraph under it, also in red text. Thanks!

  • Cindy

    If you tried the no-water/dry-cook method on just the rolls after they had been made into crusts — so basically pre-cooking the crusts first without any filling like some people do with pie crusts or quiche crusts of a regular size in a regular oven — might that not help get the whole mini pie with filling cooked more thoroughly later on when you add filling and water to the bottom of the pot? Just a potential idea if you ever try these again 🙂 Love this blog!!!!!

    • Jen Neefer

      Hrm. That’s actually an interesting idea.

      I’ll have to make a mental note of that for IF there is a next time. But with the amount of work involved, and McDonald’s being literally only a mile away, in the amount of time it takes me to roll out just half the dough I literally could be down and back with a whole bag full of apple pies instead! 😀

      Thanks for being a reader!

  • Donna

    just curious….with the leakage problem is there a reason you did not just use the small pie tins?

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