When I think of hand pies, I think of my mother’s peach fried pies. She would buy a bag of dehydrated peaches, let them soak for a while, and cook them gently on low heat with sugar and a few spices. Then she would shape and fry the pies to golden perfection. The filling would be almost gel-like (in a good way), and the peaches were soft and always seemed fresh.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen hand pies that are baked and treated as conventional pies, only in the shape of a crescent or rectangle. I’ve been fascinated with this as a concept ever since I made my own Pop Tarts, and now that I’ve made a pledge to bake more with fruit, I decided to give the hand pie a try. I took a stab at the cherry hand pie.
I just happened to have bought a bag of cherries at the market for snacking and found my inspiration. After making the pies, I realized that I probably should’ve looked for sour cherries, but the conventional ones worked fine as well.
My pies had a bit of an ooze fest during baking, and lost a lot of juice, but they were still tasty! This has inspired me to experiment with other fruits and techniques.
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
2 cups cherries, pitted and chopped in half
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten
Turbinado sugar (optional)
Make the crust
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
- With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten into a discs and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Unused dough can be frozen and stored in the freezer for one month.
- In a medium bowl, toss the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Set aside while you prepare the crust.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough ¼″ thick into a large rectangle.
- Cut dough into 8″x 4″squares; gather dough scraps, re-roll, and cut one more square.
- Place 2 tbsp. filling in center of each rectangle. Whisk egg in a bowl and brush edges of rectangles; fold one short side of dough over the other, encasing the filling.
- Crimp edges using a fork (optional) and cut slits into the top of the crust.
- Transfer pies to parchment paper–lined baking sheets, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and you can see the filling bubble.
Cheryl Vivian is a neurotic baker who came to D.C. via Detroit, Chicago, and New York City. She likes to get nerdy about baking, and there are at least two dozen eggs, four pounds of butter, and a quart of buttermilk in her fridge at all times. She doesn’t cry over burnt cookies, sunken cakes, or tough pie dough, but she will try (and try) until it’s just right. Cheryl loves to blend new trends with traditional recipes and believes that everything is better with a pinch of salt. Follow along on Instagram at @cherylvivian.