October 6, 2008

Peach Hand Pies

There is not a whole lot to say about this recipe. When I read about it on one of my favourite food blogs, the pies looked delicious. The peaches at the market a few weeks ago were looking pretty good too, so I thought it would be a winning combination.

And don’t get me wrong. They were pretty good. But in retrospect, I should have put my effort, and the delicious fruit, into a peach pie instead. Or maybe just eaten the peaches plain or on top of my cereal in the morning. Nothing gets much better than that.

These hand pies took way too much time and effort to make, and because they are so small, there is just not enough fruit filling for the amount of crust involved. The fruit-to-crust ratio is way off. There was also about a cup of filling left after I had filled all the pies, which was quite a waste.

On the bright side, the pastry is delicious and flaky and was quite easy to work with.
So here’s my final advice: take the pastry recipe and turn it into a regular old pie crust. Throw the peaches in, or maybe some apples now that peaches are pretty much gone, and enjoy.

And if you really like the idea of cute little hand pies (who doesn’t?), then cut your circles bigger, maybe 6 or even 8 inches, and then the fruit-crust thing should work much better.

Peach Hand Pies

From smittenkitchen.com

Makes 14 to 24 (depending on cutter size)

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 pounds of peaches
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bourbon – optional, I didn’t use it
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Coarse sanding sugar, for decoration

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. If preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored at this point for up to one month in the freezer.

2. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter (I’d recommend bigger), cut seven circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. (Make sure you use parchment paper or the pies will stick a lot. Guess who didn’t.) Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough.

3. Make the filling: Peel and chop the peaches into small bits (approx. 1/2-inch dice), much smaller than you’d use for a regular-sized pie. Mix them with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add the bourbon and vanilla, if you wish.

4. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons filling (use the smaller amount for a 4-inch circle) onto one half of each circle of dough. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, about 20 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.

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