On our quick trip to Knoxville a few weeks ago we had the great treat of having lunch with our friends Blair and Bryan. As we were leaving their house, to head back to Nashville, Blair *knowingly* suggested that if we were wanting to grab an afternoon coffee pick-me-up for the road trip, there is a wonderful coffee shop around the corner. She said it has great coffee and amazing baked goods called Wild Love Bakehouse. She was speaking my language.
I persuaded Dave to run by and when we walked in, I wanted to: 1. Buy every baked good in the shop. EVERYTHING looked divine. 2. Drink all the coffee. The coffee smelled wonderful. 3. Stay for a while: The space is serene and lovely and people were working, perched reading or with a friend chatting.
But alas, we had to grab and go and head back to Nashville. We decided on a giant chocolate chip cookie and a hand pie; and 2 cups of coffee. We probably couldn’t have gone wrong, but we were very happy with our choices.
I came back, fantasizing about hand pies and making them ourselves. And so we did. In fact, we made them back to back 2 days in a row to try to get them just right. The first batch was yummy and flaky and we thought better the morning after- as the fruit seemed to have been overpowered by the crust. So, on the second batch, we rolled them out thinner. This yielded a much more balanced flavor and more pies out of the batch.
We used the fruit we had on hand- blueberries, peaches and cherries. Lucy was my baking partner, and I was so glad to have her, as she pitted a bowl full of cherries while I rolled out the dough.
Some things I love about Hand Pies vs. a Whole Pie are that they are so much easier to slice, serve and eat; the crust doesn’t sink down into the pie plate (like mine does most every time I make a pie); and they are share-able! I passed them out to friends and neighbors, which I couldn’t have done so simply with slices of a whole fruit pie.
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. coarse salt
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) of very cold unsalted butter, diced
4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
Combine the water, vinegar, and ice cubes in a small pitcher and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, butter and salt. Stir together and use hands to crumble butter into the flour mixture until it is a coarse crumb texture. Drizzle the cold water (minus the ice) into the mixture, stirring until the dough comes together and you incorporate all of the flour. (You may or may not use all of the water.) Pat it into 2 disks. Place on lightly floured parchment. Wrap in plastic wrap in refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Filling:
Prepare about 3 cups of fruit- fresh cherries, berries, peaches, plums (pit and slice cherries and/or peaches; clean blueberries or blackberries; etc.)
Place in a bowl, toss with a good amount of granulated sugar and either lemon or orange zest; I put a little almond extract in my cherry batch; and a pinch of salt.
Stir well and let it sit while you prepare the crusts.
Assembly and baking:
Preheat oven to 375˚.
Roll the dough out thinly into rectangles and using a sharp knife, cut to the size you choose – rectangles if you want a rectangle “pop tart” shape, circles if you want half-moon pies, or squares if you want triangles.
Place cut dough on parchment lined baking sheets.
Spoon a hearty spoonful of fruit onto each crust. Close the crust over and using a fork, crimp the edges shut. Using a sharp knife, slice a few small cuts in the top of each pie (for steam to release). Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake at 375˚ for 10 minutes or until pies are golden brown.
Remove and let set for a few minutes.
Happy Hand Pie making, eating and sharing!