if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that berries are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE fruit. although i do have a soft spot for my childhood favorite, pears , followed closely by the fresh figs that my friend casey (my photog mentor) gives me every summer from her elderly neighbor’s yard. then there’s also ANYTHING citrus-oh gawd, we have these grapefruit grown in south texas called ruby reds–ever heard of them? we used to buy them by the case on the side of the road. the truth is, i wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite fruit, even if threatened with bodily harm. they are all unique jewels provided by mother nature. and we all must’ve done something right in our collective past lives to deserve them.
this week i had the motherload of berries on hand so they are the jewels of the week. i have been working on a dough for hand pies which, curiously enough, have different crust requirements than for a regular pie. i found a very good one on smitten kitchen, of course. it is light and fluffy, but has a nice flake to the crust. but, most importantly, it holds up to being hand-held, a definite requirement for ‘hand’ pies. don’t be intimidated by all the steps. you can make the dough a day or two ahead (or a month ahead if you’ve got freezer space!) and the refrigeration steps were something i was able to do while doing the laundry–no big deal at all.
i made a batch of strawberry and one of blackberry. both came out great. i added a tablespoon of corresponding jam to each filling, which assisted in the thickening and sweetness processes. you could use any fruit you wanted, really. except maybe melon. i don’t think that would work at all.
berry hand pies-makes 20-22, depending on size
adapted from smitten kitchen and martha stewart
for the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbsp COLD unsalted butter (2 sticks, cut into pieces)
1/2 cup sour cream (i use mexican crema because i have a crush on it-the stuff in the tub, not in the bottle)
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:
2 cups of berries, diced or sliced on the small side
1 tbsp flour
1-2 tbsp sugar*
2 tbsp blackberry or strawberry jam or preserves
1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp water
coarse or sanding sugar (i used an organic cane sugar–i like the natural color and the crunch!)
*more or less sugar is needed depending on how ripe or sweet your fruit is.
combine flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor. add butter pieces and pulse gently for the equivalent of about 8-10 seconds. at this point, the recipe usually states to mix something until “it resembles coarse meal”. this always makes me laugh. i know what they mean, but have no idea what ‘coarse meal’ is. let me know if you do. combine sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water in a large measuring cup. with the motor running slowly add the the sour cream mixture into the food processor. do not process for more than about 30 seconds. squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers. it should not be crumbly but should just hold together, and not feel too wet. dump onto a counter or cutting board and combine into a dough ball without overworking. divide dough in half and wrap in plastic. flatten into a disk shape and refrigerate for at least an hour. at this point dough can be frozen for up to a month.
remove dough 1 disk at a time and roll out onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/8″ thick. cut into 3-4″ rounds. i did not have a cutter and so used a pint glass. a glass with a thin rim works best. place rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for about 30 minutes. repeat with remaining dough disk.
at this point, i’d like to mention how much i love my refrigerator. i have never been so pleased or impressed with a single large appliance in all of my adult life. you would not believe how much i can cram into this thing without so much as the smallest reconfiguration or fluctuation of temperature. brace yourself people, it’s a double-wide. entire farm veggie co-op delivery? oh, yeah. super over-sized pizza box? heck, yes. several open bottles of wine, 3 layer or texas sheet cakes, prepared crudite platters or smorgasboards? bring it on. thanksgiving for 15 folks and their 2 turkeys and gravies and casseroles to match? uh, huh. and 2 half sheet pans full of chillin’ hand pies (plus everything else already IN the fridge) you ask? no problema, mis amigos:
meanwhile, prepare your filling. simply combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. easy, huh?
spoon 1 tbsp filling onto 1 half of each round. brush edge of round with egg wash and fold it in half, pinching edges to enclose the filling inside the dough. gently press edges with the tines of a fork. i love the word ‘tines’. we are almost done-are you hanging in there? place a slit or two in the top of the pies with a small knife, then brush egg wash on top. place pies back in refrigerator for another 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating baking pans half way through baking time. i know the baking time has a large range, but i think you should pull it out of the oven when it reaches whatever your level of golden brown perfection happens to be. mine is evident in the photos above. allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack. and take half of them to your neighbor that you just wave at but have been meaning to talk to for a few years.
warning: the following mess will end up on your baking pan if you do not use parchment to line it.