Sometimes you have an idea – hand pies. Then you have another idea – peach hand pies. And finally your brain is going wild with ideas – triangular peach hand pies. So you decide to turn those ideas into real things. And those real things are terrible. Well, not terrible tasting but terrible looking. Feeling down in the dumps, you wait a week, and then you make circular strawberry hand pies. And they come out amazing.
It’s finally summer here in San Francisco. Not that we really have a winter, just a not-warm-and-sunny season. I couldn’t tell when we transitioned from spring into summer by looking out my windows. I used the produce to let me know. When I saw all the beautiful peaches and berries on sale and tasting like candy, I knew it was summer. Seriously, try eating a strawberry in the winter… if you can even find one.
When I think about pie, I don’t think about fall or Thanksgiving, I think about summer. Those dark fruit juices just seeping out of the top of a lattice crust, or through the slits of hand pies. The fruit being so sweet you don’t need to use a pound of sugar. So many options too! Cherries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, blueberries – oh and pears, too!
Let’s talk for a minute about the disastrous peach pies that I made last week. I had this amazing vision that they would be perfect triangles that just filled my apartment with the aroma of peaches. Wrong. Not cutting the butter into the flour enough resulted in the pastry turning into a pool of butter in the oven. Though, I had faith, I knew these pies had the potential. My technique that was a bit off and I had an idea for how to fix it.
I know pie, and pastry dough in general, is often a bit advanced but if you just trust the process with this recipe, I guarantee your pies will be delicious. The dough recipe is from Deb, so I knew it was going to be a winner. I’ve changed the process a bit to make it come together a little faster, while still maintaining the flakiness. As for the filling, there is an endless list of fruit you could put in these. Just make sure that the pieces of fruit are cut smaller than a normal pie’s fruit pieces.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (4oz, 1 stick) butter, cut into pieces, cold
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ice water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
About half a pound of strawberries, diced into 1/2” pieces
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp corn starch
Juice from half a lemon
One egg yolk with a tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
Sugar for sprinkling
1. Place the flour and salt into a bowl, then place this bowl into the freezer for one hour. Remove the flour from the freezer. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or a fork. The mixture should look like course corn meal. Make sure there aren’t huge chunks of butter. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Combine the sour cream, water, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Create a well in the center of the flour. Pour the sour cream mixture into the center, and combine until the dough forms a shaggy mass. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 1/8”. Using a circular cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Place these cutouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps, reroll, and cut more circles out. If your dough gets too soft, place it in the freezer for a few minutes. Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a bowl.
3. Remove the pastry circles from the refrigerator, and let stand until malleable, a few minutes. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the filling onto one half of each circle. Quickly brush cold water around the edge, and fold pies over to create seal. Using a fork, crimp the edges. Place pies into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.
4. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pies from refrigerator, cut two small slits in the top. Brush with egg wash on the pies. Sprinkle on sugar of choice (the coarser, the better). Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just beginning to crack, about 20-30 minutes. Remove pies from oven and allow to cool on a rack before serving.