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#31 : Sour Cherry and JumbleBerry Hand Pies

A lot of work, but worth it...

For a while now I've been looking at various recipes for hand pies. A hand pie, similar to an empanada, is smaller and more "portable" than a traditional pie, easier to take to picnics or transport in the car.

We decided to try a recipe that processes the dough completely differently. Instead of the usual adding butter and ice water to the dry ingredients in the food processor, this recipe calls for putting the flour and sugar in a ZipLoc bag and then adding the butter, rolling the bag with a rolling pin to incorporate sheets of butter into the dough. It was a bit complicated, but it seemed to work.

The trick is to roll gently, flipping the bag occasionally, and to make sure the bag is actually zipped shut, or else flour and butter come flying out if you press too hard. (This almost happened once.)

I mentioned these in an email to our friend Robin, who wrote back something about Okie Pies. I had never heard of those and looked them up. I haven't quite wrapped my head around the idea of a Blueberry Pork Pie.

Once the butter is fully incorporated, you put the dough in a large bowl and sprinkle water over it, mixing the water in. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into an 8 inch square, and chill "at least one hour" which really means overnight.

This is a "rough puff" pastry dough, so you take one dough square and roll it out into a 17x9 rectangle, fold one end over into the middle, then fold in the other end like a business envelope, and then give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process.

The high hydration level and all of that butter make the dough quite sticky and we found we had to keep sprinkling it and the rolling pin with flour.

Once the dough measurements are correct, paint egg wash in a stripe horizontally across the dough. Then paint three stripes vertically on the bottom portion to make 4 even squares and spoon filling into each square. I used sour cherries for the first pies and some jumble berry mix (red currants, blueberries and blackberries) for the second square of dough.

Use a knife or pizza cutter to slice from top to bottom along the vertical stripes of egg wash, to make 4 rectangles. Then carefully fold the top part of the rectangle over the filling and press together firmly. The dough is very soft and sticky so you may need a bench scraper or spatula to lift the dough without tearing it.

Trim any rough edges off the squares and use a fork to crimp the dough together on all sides. Make sure to cut a tiny slit in the middle of each square. making a vent for steam to escape. Again using a bench scraper or spatula, carefully lift each square onto a baking sheet covered with parchment. (The dough may squish together so you may need to smooth each pie into a square again.) Paint each square with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and you're ready to bake.

The Verdict: Worth all the fuss.

This dough is very soft and sticky, and the process of creating it is a bit of a pain. But the end result is delicious and it's nice to end up with small individual pies that are easily packed up for a picnic. It seems likely that we'll be making these again.

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