Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Berry hand pies
Katie, if your birthday were to ever happen when we were in the same physical location, I'd offer to bake you something. (How subjunctive is that sentence? Take THAT, Spanish and your Romance language crew! You're not the only ones who can talk about things that probably won't happen.)
This is an easy promise to make because we are almost never in the same place, but that doesn't make it any less genuine. If, however, I were going to bake you something, I'd work hard to make it gorgeous and delicious, knowing that you could just as well make something for yourself. I felt a touch of the same sort of intimidation when I offered to bake to celebrate my friend Natasha's birthday.
I gave Natasha a choice between tres leches cake and handpies. Guess what she picked. (I'm going to make tres leches for my mother's 60th birthday later this month.) But! It turns out that a handpie is just a turnover by another name. Or an empanada. This realization made me a little bit sad, took the edge off my handpie excitement—and then I realized a-rose-by-any-other-name-blah-blah-blah, pie is delicious, portable pies are delicious too. No problem here.
Be warned: the recipe is a little fussy. Especially the dough part, which I'm going to do a separate, sciencey post about later. (Geeky, right? But USEFUL, trust me.)
On filling and sealing handpies: clearly, I haven't mastered the sealing part. What are you going to do? Things bubble, goo comes out, and maybe it's kind of nice to see the pie's guts before you eat them. I recommend a filling that's not-so-juicy. When filling your little handpies, put in less filling than you think is appropriate. It will look scant and this will make you feel like a miserly piemaker. No worries! It'll fill out in the baking process. Or maybe the dough shrinks a bit. Maybe a bit of both. Anyway, you need to be able to close the handpie and lots of filling makes this impossible.
The dough I got from Smitten Kitchen here.
The filling is all my own, and on the not-sweet side of things. Add more sugar if you think that's an appropriate thing to do. I used frozen berries because they're easier to find and cheaper.
Berry handpie filling, in honor of Natasha and how 27 was a good year for her
1 bag frozen mixed berries
1/2 bag frozen strawberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp tapioca powder (not pearls)
1/2 cup sugar
Mix all these things together. Let them sit while you do something else, like wash the dishes. Then fill your pies, sealing them by brushing cold water on the parts that will meet when folding. Cut slits in your pies, brush with egg wash, chill in your refrigerator for about an hour on sheets lined with parchment paper.
Heat your oven to 375º and bake for 20 minutes.
This dough and filling made many, many handpies. Keep in mind that the strawberries may need to be cut in half to fit into smaller pies. Most of my pies were about 5" in diameter before getting folded in half. Big strawberries make mysterious bumps in your handpies—I can't say I'm completely against that, especially when you discover that the bump is a strawberry.
Why tapioca? It's a trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated and it helps take away some of the juiciness. I suppose you could also use cornstarch.