Tag Archives: pie

berry hand pies

hand pies-fin blackberry

hand pies-fin strawberry

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.

hand pies-blackberries

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.

hand pies-loaded, not closed

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.

hand pies- fork crimp

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

egg wash:

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:

fridge-double wide!

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. 


hand pies-last


Filed under desserts, fruit

meyer lemon curd tart and learning to let go


cooks are delicate creatures. and cooking is serious business. this might not come as a surprise to you but those who love to cook, as a group, have a high incidence of bruised egos. and just like with any other artistic endeavor, it’s not usually other’s that can accomplish this. no, it usually comes from within–we are our own worst critic. add in a bad day at work and attempting to make a tart crust, not to mention my stubborn taurean ways, and you’ve got the perfect storm. 

learning how to make a proper pie or tart crust. initial ingredients in food processor, determining how much more ice water to add:


after adding too much, then adding a bit more flour (and 20-30 minutes of hemming and hawing about it), i came up with this:


the recipe called for it to be ‘schmeared’ with the palm of your hand a few times, like this:


after allowing to rest for at least 30 minutes (made mine the day before, then let it sit out for 30 minutes or so), roll it out, adding more flour if it at all seems sticky:


then fold ‘er in half (or quarters) and place in tart pan. gently press dough into sides and bottom of pan, then roll pin over the top to cut off extra dough:


so far so good, right? top with foil and add pie weights. i have a jar of beans i keep in the pantry that i use over and over designated for this purpose only:


place in oven and start your blind baking. try not to attempt to take tart pan out of the oven from the bottom like i did. the crust will (and did) fall apart. after patchworking back together and browning for a few minutes more without foil:



all is lost, right? honestly, i was practically in tears as i stood over the 425 degree oven removing all the beans from the bottom of the scorchingly hot oven and attempting to put the crust back together. i thought about making another crust, but fought the urge. NOTE: THIS WAS VERY HARD FOR ME TO DO. 

although it sounds very exotic, making the lemon curd was the easiest part of the whole process, especially if you’ve ever made pudding from a box when you were a kid–lots of stirring! pour in your curd:


i did end up having to devise a plan of action and i put a layer of foil between the tart pan bottom and sides (remember it’s a 2 piece tart pan) so my curd didn’t spill out all over the place –and it worked!


i placed the whole thing on baking sheet with sides, just in case. after baking, i let it cool for a bit after removing from oven because the curd is actually still quite loose when it comes out. then i cooled in the fridge for awhile (stiil in the tart pan due to the crust fiasco of 2009). it firmed up quite a bit and i was able to remove the side of the tart pan and make it look kinda pretty and beautifully wonky:


honestly, it tasted fabulous and i was glad for the experience. in fact, i made 2 more savory crusts following martha stewart’s pate brisee recipe (omitting the sugar) and they were beautiful.


meyer lemon curd tart (adapted from anne burrell)


for the pie crust:

  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water

for the curd:

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice*
  • 3 Meyer lemons, zested**
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pats

* for both the lemon juice and zest i used 5-6 lemons

** be sure to zest the lemons before you juice them. it is impossible to do this the other way around!

preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

for the dough:

put the butter, sugar, flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy or coarse crumb consistency. it is important not to over process the dough or it will become tough. add ice water a few tablespoons at a time and pulse the food processor in between additions. check the consistency of the dough by clenching a small handful in your fist. if the dough stays together it is the proper consistency. if not, pulse the dough with a little more water. if it becomes too wet, add a pinch more flour or you can just add it on your board when you remove it from the food processor. when the dough has reached the proper consistency, dump it out on a clean work surface. using the heel of your hand, schmear the dough straight forward and roll it back with your fingertips. repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, dust with flour if needed. form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness, moving it around as you roll so it does not stick to your board. fold the dough in half, or in quarters in order to move it to the tart pan. lay the dough in the tart pan and unfold. gently press the dough into the sides of the tart pan by rolling a small scrap of dough into a ball and pushing it into the dough, or just use your knuckles or fingers. roll over the top edge of the tart pan with the rolling pin to cut the extra dough from the pan and create a crisp edge. cover the dough with aluminum foil and gently poke the foil into the side edges to fit the pan. this will help to keep the sides of the tart tall and straight as it cooks. refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. fill the tart shell with the dried beans and place in the preheated oven. bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove the foil and beans and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more. remove the tart shell from the oven and cool. the dough should be golden and crisp.

preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

for the lemon curd:

in a bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and salt and whisk to a homogeneous consistency. place in saucepan and bring to a medium heat. cook, whisking, constantly until the mixture has thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. remove from heat and whisk in the butter, 2 pats at a time until it’s incorporated and has a silky consistency. you may strain the mixture at this time if you prefer an absolute pure consistency, but i like the natural pulp and all in mine.

pour the lemon curd into the prepared tart shell and bake in the preheated oven until the lemon curd has set, about 15 minutes. let cool completely before cutting.

the original recipe called for a blueberry garnish but i didn’t feel it was necessary. decide for yourself.


Filed under desserts