Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apricot Hand Pies

Ah summertime, there’s nothing quite like it. Each day is a little longer, a little warmer, a little more magical than the one before it. It’s the perfect time for casual entertaining, trips to the beach, camping with friends, and these delicious little hand pies. Because just one of the many things that is great about this dessert is how portable they are, and they would be more than welcome at any of those places I just mentioned. Sure they take a little bit more work to put together than your average pie, but when you get to your destination with a container full of little packages of flaky crust and juicy fruit that need little more than a pair of hands to enjoy, you’ll agree that it’s well worth it.
Summer and pie just happen to go hand in hand (pun intended), and we here at Butter + Cream love our pie any way we can get it. Whether it be covered in a lattice top, filled with a creamy filling, topped with whipped cream, or folded up into a handy treat, they’re allll good. In fact, we love pie so much, this summer we are having what we like to call the Butter + Cream Pie Spectacular! We will be putting up piesignments twice a month and hopefully all of you will play along with us. Click here to catch up on all the details. So needless to say, pie is going to be a very good friend around these parts for awhile, and I can't think of a better way to kick of the summer of pie than with these portable tasty treats.
These hand pies are so good it's ridiculous. Imagine a big bite of your favorite fruit, encased in a buttery flaky crust that fits in the palm of your hand. This is definitely a dessert for anyone whose favorite part of pie is the crust (you know who you are), because there tends to be a higher ratio of it to the fruit. The pies are completely customizable and can be filled with whatever type of fruit or filling your heart desires. I’m a sucker for any fruit or vegetable with a short growing season as it seems to make every bite that much more extraordinary. Which meant that when apricots started showing up at the weekly farmer’s market, I knew I had to make something special out of them that would showcase the fleeting fruit, because blink and they’ll be gone.
Apricots have an amazing tart and tangy flavor that is intensified when paired with a sweetener. I can see how some people may not like it, because it’s definitely not a shy fruit, but I think that's what I love about them most. The tartness of the apricots was the perfect contrast to the buttery rich crust that could potentially overpower another fruit. Instead, these two work beautifully together. You really want what’s inside the pie to stand out, which is exactly what these apricots did. That's not to say that these pies couldn't be just as delicious with any other combination, like maybe blackberries with loads of lemon zest, peaches with a bit of almond liqueur, mango with a vanilla bean and a splash of rum, or even a medley of different fruits. The possibilities are endless.
I have a favorite pie crust recipe which I hope to share with you all later this week, and I don’t tend to stray too far from it. Probably because it’s tried and true, and I have it memorized like the back of my hand. But occasionally I will try a recipe that’s a little different, which is what I did for these hand pies. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this particular recipe. It was a little bit harder to roll out then my usual pie crust, but sometimes it seems that the crusts that are more difficult to roll out turn out that much buttery and flaky. Which these crusts definitely were. I’m not saying that I would completely abandon my old recipe, oh no sir, but I will definitely be coming back to this one in the future for another go round.
A few tips on these. I was a little hurried when I put mine together, so the finished product was not as neat as it could have been. Try and cut out the pie dough into as even of squares as possible, this will make it a lot easier to fold the pie over and seal the edges. These pies can really only handle a couple tablespoons of the fruit mixture or else it goes spilling out all over the place. It usually takes a few tries to find the perfect amount. Roll out the dough on the thinner side, to avoid the crust being too thick to fit enough fruit. Don’t skip out on the egg wash, or the sprinkling of sugar. Those are what make these pies over the top charming. And lastly, try not to consume too many of them before you offer them to others, it will be tricky I promise you.

Apricot Hand Pies

Adapted from here, and here

Pate Brisee (chilled for at least one hour, recipe follows)

6 apricots, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sanding sugar, or raw sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough. Cut dough into 5 inch squares, or use a 4 or 5 inch round cutter to cut out as many circles as possible. Place dough squares or circles on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator. Repeat with remaining dough. Let dough chill out in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together fruit, sugar, orange zest and juice, salt, and cornstarch; mix until well combined. Set fruit mixture aside.

Take dough squares or circles out of fridge. Working with one square at a time, place 2 tablespoons of fruit mixture in the center. Brush two connecting edges with beaten egg and fold on the diagonal over the filling, pressing to seal. Edges can also be sealed by pressing down on them with the tines of a fork. Repeat process with remaining squares or circles.

Brush pies with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Using a pair of clean scissors, snip the center of one side of each hand pie to allow steam to escape. Place hand pies on prepared baking sheet. (if you're more patient than I am, at this point the pies can be placed in the fridge for another good chill for about 30 minutes)

Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until crusts are golden brown and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pate Brisee
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces (2 sticks)
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.


  1. Oooh yum, these remind me of those home run pies that had 8 trillion calories that I ate in middle school. Can't wait to make these!

  2. This looks AMAZING!! Is this piesignment #2??

  3. @Christina: Nope, just a little extra credit :)

  4. I make hand pies about once a year and have never thought of using apricots. Hmmm...that sounds really tasty. I love hand pies but the reason I don't make them more often is because they are such a pain in the butt to put together. Quite time consuming but sooo worth the effort. Yours look simply delicious. Wonderful photos.

  5. these pies look extra-yum! i gotta get into making pies more often, really i do. and i should join in on your pie spectacular - that might help :)

  6. @Heidi: I agree with you, the hand pies are definitely more effort, but well worth it.

    @Heather: You should definitely join in on the Pie Spectacular! At least whenever you can!

  7. I just brought home 3 pound of apricots. I am so inspired!

  8. @Dorien: Yay! Apricots are sooo good with pie crust! They also make tasty jam :)

  9. Here's a tip if you're peeling them! Cut an X in the top of an apricot or peach, then blanch them: boil them for about 45 seconds, then drop them in a bowl of ice water. The skins will peel right off, it's amazing!

  10. That tip also works great for tomatoes :) I didn't peel the apricots for these pies, and I was surprised that I didn't notice the skins at all! All that I noticed was delicious ooey gooey fruit.

  11. Brave soul you are, making pies! If there's one thing that instills great fear in me, it's pie making. Any kind! I love the gooey middles of yours!

  12. you could make this pie with those insanely yummy plum things that used to overflow your Partrick Rd. house!! yes?! yes?

  13. @KK: Yesssss, those would be amazing. Do those still grow there? I may need to steal some if they do.

  14. I don't know if they still have those trees. . . my mom would have trespassed and stolen some by now if they do. I have never, ever seen those fruits in markets. It was a special Hackett fruit!


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