Our ABC July project was exactly what I needed to welcome summer after a rain drenched June: Blueberry Hand Pies, a recipe from King Arthur Flour. These cute portion-sized pies combine two major food groups: buttery pastry and fruit!
Since our wonderful native Maine blueberries were not ripe yet, and frozen wild blueberries are not quite as flavorful, I combined them with rhubarb from the garden (as “honorary” berry), and threw some fresh raspberries in the mix. (When I made them a second time, I used sour cherries from our garden).
The amount of sugar in the filling was sufficient to balance my tarter fruits, so I didn’t add any more sugar. But first I omitted the lemon juice, until I tasted the cooked fruit. It could definitely do with a little more tang, so the lemon juice went back in.
|The food processor makes mixing a cinch|
For the dough I used the food processor, which made short work of cutting the butter to the desired pea sized pieces. Adding the sour cream I had King Arthur’s cautioning in mind: the dough will not be cohesive.
Emptying the bowl on the counter I found this quite the understatement – not cohesive? Without the slightest feelings of solidarity, the crumbles did their best to avoid contact with their comrades, rolling madly around and trying to escape to the floor.
|No worries about the crumbles: the dough will eventually cooperate!|
Here my soda bread making experience came handy, I told myself not to get nervous, and managed, with a little bit of milk to moisten my hands, (and without brutal force!) to coax the rebellious crumbles into a rough semblance of a dough.
A piece of plastic foil helps here, too, you can press on the crumbs without them sticking to your hands (or, later, to the rolling pin).
For my second batch I added a bit of vodka to the dough (America’s Test Kitchen’s advice in mind), to make it a little moister without the danger of gluten-development, as with water. (Don’t worry, you won’t taste the alcohol.)
The turns – rolling and folding the dough – were less difficult than I expected. Even though the dough was brittle and got some cracks in the process.
Since it was a really warm day, and the dough started to stick a bit, I put it after the first turn for a few minutes in the freezer, to firm up again, and, also, gave it an overnight rest in the fridge before shaping and baking it the next day.
|Ready to spend the night in the fridge|
The little cut out stars from the vents made nice little cookies. We liked the crunch and taste of raw sugar as topping better than sparkling sugar that added nothing to the flavor.
Looking at those cute little pies we knew: they had to be great. They didn’t earn their 5-star reviews for nothing – the were absolutely delicious!! Definitely something I will make again!
|They taste as good as they look – definitely a keeper (here with sour cherries)|
SUMMER BERRY HAND PIES ( adapted from King Arthur Flour)
216 g all-purpose flour
25 g whole grain flour (I like Einkorn)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
227 g unsalted butter, cold (2 sticks), cubed
113 g sour cream
1-2 tbsp vodka (helps moistening, but, unlike water, without gluten-development – no worries, you won’t taste it!)
227 g blueberries (or other berries, sour cherries or rhubarb, or mixed, fresh or frozen)
50 g sugar (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp. Instant ClearJel (or 2 tsp. cornstarch)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
raw sugar, for sprinkling
|Process the dough to a coarse, crumbly mixture with large, pea-sized butter pieces|
Using a food processor, add flour, salt and baking powder to bowl, and pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse, until mixture is crumbly, but leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces.
Or whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl, add butter, and work with hands or pastry cutter.
|The sour cream hardly seems enough to moisten the dough (but it does!)|
Transfer dough to a bowl, and, using plastic spatula, fold in sour cream, and vodka (dough won’t be cohesive.)
|Plastic foil helps with kneading and out rolling the dough|
Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together, with a few quick pushes and kneads (moisten hands with milk, or cover dough with a piece of plastic foil and use it to push without sticking). DON’T GET NERVOUS, ALL WILL BE OKAY!
Pat dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle (plastic foil on top prevents sticking). EVEN IF IT’S BRITTLE AND CRACKS, YOU ARE DOING JUST FINE!
|Folding the dough the first time – you can see the butter pieces|
Dust both sides of the dough lightly with flour, and, starting with a shorter end, fold it in thirds like a business letter. (If the dough gets too soft, and starts to stick, freeze it for 15 minutes to firm up again.) Use a bench knife to loosen it, if it sticks.
|Trim dough to make straight edges, and place cut pieces on top|
|After the second turn the dough looks a bit smoother|
Flip dough over, turn 90°, (re-flour, if necessary) and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Trim sides with bench knife, placing cut off pieces on top of dough, and fold it in thirds again.
|After two turns you have a neat dough package|
Wrap package with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. Or, if you prefer to bake the same day, chill dough for at least 30 minutes (better longer) before using.
Combine all filling ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. (Adjust with more sugar or lemon to taste.) Transfer cooked berries to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature. (Use ice water bath, if you need it to cool faster).
Preheat oven to 425°F, placing a rack on the middle shelf. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
|A pizza cutter works just fine for dividing the dough|
Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square. Trim edges with bench knife. With a pastry wheel, or a 3 1/2″ square cutter, cut out sixteen 3 1/2″ squares.
Divide filling among 8 of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each. Brush some of the beaten egg along edges of each filled square.
|The filling looks almost too much, but it doesn’t squeeze out|
Cut a vent into each of the remaining eight squares, using a decorative cutter of your choice. (Place cut out pieces on baking sheet, they are great as cookies.).
Top each filled square with a vented square, place pieces on baking sheet, and press along edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
|Hand Pies (and star cookies) ready for baking|
Brush pie tops (and cut out cookies) with remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake pies for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving (theoretically, we ate them, with ice cream, while hot).
|Sour Cherry Hand Pie – my delicious 2016 version!|
To make ahead: Place unbaked pies on the baking sheet in the freezer. When they are frozen, wrap them individually in plastic foil and put them in a freezer bag. You don’t have to thaw them, you can bake them frozen (without foil) – it will take a little longer.
Would you like to join the Avid Bakers? New members are always welcome!
Post was updated August 2016.