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Hand pies take a person back. To fourth grade, maybe (or even earlier,) when you’d bike to that corner grocery store with friends after school, finding the rack of pies, wax-paper-sleeved, sugar slicked, and skimpy on the filling, but easy to grip in one hand as you wheeled to somebody’s house before piano lessons. We’ve built on that nostalgia with better flavor and fresher fruit. Our pies are full of fresh-picked sour cherries, in a tender, oven-baked butter crust with optional sugar glaze. A bit of almond flour and red wine vinegar in the dough adds to the texture and flavor.
We’ve sized the pies large enough to share, though you may want to eat one all by yourself as you linger over the weekend reading you’ve been looking forward to.
Choose fresh sour cherries from your farmers market in season and use thawed frozen sour cherries when fresh aren’t available. One tip: To pit fresh sour cherries, a counter-mounted cherry-pitter is a huge help. .
- FOR PIE CRUST:
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1 ½ sticks ice cold butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 to 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- FOR SOUR CHERRY FILLING:
- 1 1⁄2 lb. very ripe sour cherries, rinsed well, stems, leaves and pits removed to make 3 cups
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, squeezed from ½ fresh lemon
- Zest from ½ fresh lemon
- 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp pure cane sugar
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- FOR EGG WASH AND FINISH:
- 1 large egg and 1 Tbsp water, whisked together
- FOR SUGAR GLAZE:
- 2 cups powdered sugar (Note: If you use organic, it may give glaze a slight golden color)
- 2 Tbsp softened butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 Tbsp milk/or light cream
- MAKE PIE CRUSTS: In a large, wide, shallow bowl, sift flour, almond flour sugar and salt together. Cut butter into the flour. Using your fingertips, lightly break up butter until mixture resembles damp sand with some bits of butter still visible. Whisk egg with water and pour into center of the mixture. Sprinkle vinegar over. Using a fork stir together until dough comes together with a few crumbly bits still in the bowl. Spread work surface with two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap to make a square. Scoop dough and crumbly bits onto plastic. Lift the corners of the plastic up to make a bundle; squeeze and knead dough through plastic wrap until it all gathers into a ball of dough. (If still too crumbly, place back in bowl and add another teaspoon of water.) Spread plastic back out. Pat dough into a lumpy disk. Cover with two more sheets of plastic making a square over the dough. Roll dough out just a bit through plastic into a flat circular mound. Remove top plastic and cut disk into four parts. Spread work surface with two pieces of overlapping plastic wrap to make another square. Place one of the four dough pieces on the wrap. Shape into a circle. Cover again with two squares of plastic and roll out into a 7-inch circle. Place dough circle—still with plastic wrap squares on both sides--on round baking sheet. Repeat for remaining three pieces of dough. Place stack of dough circles on baking sheet in refrigerator while your make the filling.
- MAKE FILLING: Place pitted cherries in a strainer. Lightly press to release some juice into a bowl. Place pitted cherries, sugars, salt, lemon zest and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pot. Set aside. To the bowl of cherry juice, add vinegar, and lemon juice; whisk with cornstarch to make a slurry. Heat pot of cherries over medium-low heat. Stir in cherry/lemon/cornstarch slurry. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, glaze clears, and cherries are softened. Remove from heat and set in a cool place.
- ASSEMBLE PIES: Remove one disk of dough from the fridge. Leaving plastic square on both sides, gently roll out dough circle to a level 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 6-inch bowl, trace a 6-inch circle onto the plastic wrap covered dough circle with a sharpie. Using kitchen shears, trim off the edge of the dough. (You can save the dough scraps and re-roll-out to make one more pie circle if you like.) Repeat process until all dough circles are trimmed. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. With oven rack set to center position, preheat oven to 375. Place one trimmed dough circle on work surface. Remove top sheet of plastic. Place 2 to 3 Tbsp of the cherry filling on one half of the circle. Fold other half of dough up and over the filling, using the bottom plastic to help you lift and fold. Using the tines of a fork, press down and around the now-double-thickness edge of the pie through the remaining plastic to seal the pie. Lift finished hand pie toward the parchment-lined baking sheet, flip to place; discard plastic. Repeat for remaining four pies. Brush pies liberally with egg wash. Cut slits in top of each pie to vent steam Place sheet pan full of pies in refrigerator for 1 hour, or in freezer for ½ hour.
- BAKE PIES: Place rimmed-baking sheet full of chilled hand pies in oven. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes, until pies are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack.
- GLAZE AND SERVE: Whisk powdered sugar with softened butter. Whisk in milk or cream and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over hand pies. Serve warm or room temperature.
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