Lagniappe: Hand Pie on the 4th of July
Summer fruit is ripe, sweet and juicy this month and cobblers, buckles and pies are All-American ways to serve them up and show them off. A favorite of mine is simple, delicious and works on so many levels. I’m talking about a SUMMER FRUIT HAND PIE. What is a hand pie? It’s a pie you can hold in your hand. Sort of like a slice, but self-contained and individual. It’s the perfect way to take pie on a picnic, perhaps while enjoying fireworks or to hand off to the youngsters in the back yard while they play the long summer evenings away.
These pies can be made with regular pie dough (don’t be afraid to buy a good quality one from the freezer section) or frozen puff pastry to kick the fancy up a notch. They are customizable with your favorite summer fruits, alone or in combination. Below I share a cherry version as well as a nectarine/blueberry combo. Peaches would work beautifully, as would strawberries in the spring or apples in the fall. Try it with your favorite fruit and I’m sure you will agree. Happy Independence Day, America!!
SUMMER FRUIT HAND PIES
Makes about 8 hand pies
I recipe Pâte Brisée pie dough (recipe follows) OR I box frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
¼ cup turbinado sugar
For CHERRY HAND PIE:
3-4 cups cherries, pitted and chopped
½ teaspoon almond extract (may substitute vanilla)
¼ to ½ cup sugar
2-3 Tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
¼ cup toasted unsweetened coconut
For BLUEBERRY NECTARINE HAND PIE:
2-1/2 cups chopped nectarines
1 cup blueberries
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ to ½ cup sugar
2-3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix fruit with extract and sugar and set aside to macerate while you roll out the pie dough (or puff pastry). Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 8 rectangles (approximately 4x6 inches although they may be larger or smaller). Mix flour and spice together, add to fruit and mix well. If using coconut in the CHERRY HAND PIES, add now and combine well.
Put approximately ¼ cup of fruit filling on one half of your rectangle, making sure to leave a half inch of dough or pastry free around the edges. DO NOT OVERFILL! In this case, less is better than more. Fold the other half of the dough over the fruit and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife, poke one or two vent holes in the top of the hand pie. Brush the top of each pie with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes (depending on size). Remove when baked and allow to cool.
Pâte Brisée (Pie Crust Dough)
Makes enough for 1 double crust or 2 single crust 9- to 10-inch pies
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ to ½ cup ice water
Cut chilled butter into small cubes by cutting the stick in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, lengthwise. Chop these long pieces into half inch cubes. Keep butter cold while assembling ingredients.
In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, salt and sugar. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add chilled butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal (or large bread crumbs), about 10 seconds.
With the machine running, slowly add ¼ cup ice water in a steady stream through the feed tube on the lid. Pulse until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky, being careful not to pulse for more than 30 seconds. To test, take a heaping tablespoon of the dough and squeeze it together. If it is still crumbly, return it to the processor and add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep testing until dough holds together.
Remove dough from processor and divide into 2 equal balls. Place each on a separate piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and flatten ball into a disc. Chill dough in refrigerator at least one hour. Dough may be stored, wrapped well and frozen, up to 1 month.