Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cherry Hand Pies

Sitting around on a Saturday morning, Richard and I are trying to decide what dessert I should make for the weekend. I am having a serious sweet tooth attack and everything from cookies to cakes to cupcakes sounds good. So we head to the store to just pick up a few baking staples that we need: chocolate chips, cherries, nuts. Having these things in the house means we'll have what we need to whip up a tasty treat once we decide what that is.

I wanted to make something familiar but that would give me a new challenge and BOOM! It hit me. Hand pies!

Although Americans didn't invent pies, we certainly are the country that has most embraced the concept. Hand pies used to be the go-to food for many American field laborers and travelers. But homemade pies became rarer after WWII and convenience foods took over. A recent resurgence in pie popularity has brought some lovely innovations to the most beloved favorites. But today's pie recipe is simple, classic and freaking delicious! I did have about a cup of filling left over, but we're going to use that as a tasty ice cream topping. Genius.

3 cups jarred pitted sour cherries, reserve 1 tbsp cherry juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, unsalted, cubed
5 tbsp ice water

1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
granulated or turbinado sugar

In a stand mixer, combine flour and salt. Add butter and mix on high until crumbly (about the size of small peas). Using a spatula add one tablespoon of ice water and toss into mixture. Continue until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten into 2 inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan, heat cherries, sugar, cinnamon and salt over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to gentle boil and lightly mash cherries with a wooden spoon. In a small bowl, combine reserved cherry juice, 1 tbsp of cooked cherry juice and cornstarch. Stir to dissolve then stir cornstarch mixture into cherries. Simmer gently for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and water.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut chilled dough into 6 equal parts. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface. Cut each piece into and 5.5-6 inch circle. I used a small saucer and cut around it with a butter knife. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of cherry mixture into the center of the circle. Using a pastry brush, brush the edge of one side of the circle with egg wash. Fold the other side over and crimp with a fork. Repeat for each circle. Arrange pies on cookie sheet and brush with egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes then 350 for 5 more minutes.

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