Monday, July 8, 2013

Triple Berry Hand Pies and What a Girl Must Know

I love pie because I love crust. I love pie because I love filling. But there are certain pies I just don't like. I don't like lemon meringue. I don't like lemon and I don't like meringue. Double whammy. Horrors. And I don't think I'm a big fan of cream pies. Never had a banana cream pie. Think I've had a coconut cream pie. Of course I do like anything chocolate but don't put meringue on it. I guess know my favorite pies are fruit pies. Apple pie. Cherry pie. Peach pie. Those are my faves. I do like key lime pie. Frozen. In a graham cracker crust. Ice cream pies like Mud pie are definitely on my agenda, though I can't remember the last time I had one of those. I think my favorite part is the hot fudge on top.

Which leads me to my new favorite pie - the hand pie. Really, isn't it just another name for a turnover? But doesn't the word hand pie sound more romantic, more childlike, and aren't they something everyone would  have one of?  The best part about hand pies is that you can eat more than one because they aren't as big as a slice and you can take one for later.  Hand pies make me think of farmers markets and state fairs where the thought of being a pie judge must surely be a treat. And pie makes me think of blue ribbons and crust which make hand pies perfect for me. Lovers of crust rejoice because hand pies get you a better ratio of crust to fruit. Honest.

Pie also makes me think of my mother and her neighbor friend who used to make apple pies in our kitchen every fall and share them between their freezers. My mom's friend made the crust and my mom made the filling. Guess what I never learned how to bake? Yeah, a pie crust. I never learned how to make fried chicken either, but that is another story.

There are some things a girl must know. A girl must know that her shoes and bag don't have to match. A girl must know that navy and camel are now  acceptable colors of nail polish and that glitter reigns. A girl must know that you never cancel a hair or a nail appointment. A girl must know that you never say yes the first time you are asked on a date. The proper response to said question is "Let me check my calendar", whereupon you immediately pull out your IPhone, check your calendar and then say, "It looks like I'm available." A girl must know how to make a pie crust, but then so should a boy, for that matter. And why should one know this? Because pie is so real, so wholesome, and by God, so American!

Which leads me back to the fact that I really suck at pie crust. I've tried food processor pie crusts, pastry blender pie crusts, vegetable shortening pie crusts, refrigerated pie crusts, oil pie crusts, butter pie crusts and frozen pie crusts. Everyone eats my pie. They always tell me how good it is, but I am never happy with my pie crust. I want a perfect, truck stop, pie crust. The flaky, thin, golden kind. Kind of like I'd like my body, well, except for the flaky part. And how is it that every recipe for pie crust is always titled, "No Fail Pie Crust"? Isn't that automatically setting us up for failure?

All right already. I resorted to cream cheese. It works. I'm not telling you it's perfect, but I'm telling you it makes pie crust pretty, pretty easy. And it is exceptional for repairs. I always need to repair my crust a lot. But hand pies are easy to repair and besides a little juice seeping out makes them look pretty. Well, that's my opinion and I'm standing by it. I used Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe. It works well for these. The cream cheese gives the crust a salty, rich taste which balances the fruit filling. A winner in my book. Plus, it is easy to roll out and only needs to chill about 30 minutes. She recommends a food processor. I was lazy and did it by hand. I'll give you her version, but know that as long as you have a pastry blender you can do it by hand.

Cream Cheese Pie Crust (makes about 18 hand pies)
8 T  cold or frozen butter
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c flour plus 2 T
1/2 t salt

1 beaten egg

Cut butter into small cubes. Process butter, cream cheese and cream in food processor until well blended. Add flour and salt and process until mixture forms a ball. Divide in two, flatten into discs and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out each piece on a floured surface, one at a time into squares about 12"x12". Trim edges if needed. Cut in thirds. You should have 3 equal strips, but I am really bad about the equal part. Now you need to cut each strip into 3 squares. These are now ready to be filled with about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling.

Place one heaping tablespoon in the middle of the corner of each square. Fold other corner over so the two straight sides meet. Fold in the straight corner and crimp into a half circle. Or shoot, just fold the dang things in half. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Crimp. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Poke a few holes for a vent and to get those juices flowing.

Chill before baking for about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. These are great with an ice cream cone in the other hand!

 Triple Berry Filling
1 c blueberries
1/2 c raspberries
1/2 c blackberries (sliced if too big)
1/2 c brown or white sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/2 t cinnamon, ginger or cardamom
1/2 t vanilla
1 T lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Mix all together. Use 1 heaping tablespoon per hand pie.

A few more to try:
Blueberry Nut Bread
Fudge Pie
Not My Mama's Cherry Pie

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  1. Replies
    1. I'm always glad when they look perfect but they taste even better! And I am sooo glad you wrote.

  2. No matter what kind of pie crust you used - they look amazing and I know my pies :) Beautiful. Fruit pies are the real deal baby! It's what crust was made for!

    1. Tricia, I know you know your pies so I tke this as a great compliment! Yeah, fruit pies re where it's at!

  3. Hand pies are so cute! I've always wondered if they were just fried pies that someone decided to bake, or whether they developed independently of fried pies. No matter - I'll take any, and in any flavor. Including lemon! Which is one of my faves . really like berry pies, but key lime is my favorite, and lemon meringue a close second. Can we still be friends? ;-) Check out the Julia Child recipe for pie dough in The Way to Cook. She mixes butter and Crisco, so she gets great flavor with decent flakiness. It's the recipe we usually use. Fun post - thanks.

    1. I've wondered the same thing, too. But I am sure glad someone thought of them! And they are cute, I agree. And you will always be my friend and Mrs. KR, too! And I should check Julia. Maybe that will help. I think she was more patient than me though!

  4. The soul of a pie is the CRUST! These cute hand pies look terrific, Abbe.

  5. Angie, you are so right! I like that.

  6. I, too, am a big fan of hand pies, Abbe, of all kinds. I'm also a fan of that pastry dough. I first learned of it from a TV show, Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn. No surprise she worked for Martha and used to be on her TV show. Not being much of a baker, a forgiving pie crust is something I really need! I bet it would be perfect for your berry pies and being able to grab one on your way out the door is a big plus. Thanks for sharing another great recipe, Abbe.

  7. i think i remember her but I'm not sure. PBS? Yes, this is forgiving which is very good for me! They also use a similar dough to make rugelach, a Jewish cookie pastry that is really good. It is filled and rolled up like a croissant. Thanks John. You are so nice!

  8. hand pies = SO CUTE! and so portable, and it makes pie so easy to grab and eat, which is perfect for summer. I was never good (and still am not excellent) at pie crust, but you're right: the cream cheese seems to make things easier for some recipes, and it's nice to work with. These look so pretty and rustic.

  9. Rustic, I've always liked that word. Now I want a cabin to go with them! Thanks, Shannon!