Monday, March 14, 2011

Blueberry Hand Pies

Happy Piπ (3.14) Day! In honor of Piπ, it seems only fitting to make a pie, or in my case, Blueberry Hand Pies. I don't know about you, but having a full pie (or cake for that matter) sitting in the kitchen is not a good thing for me. It's just more reason for me to indulge. But when there are hand pies available, I like to think I can still enjoy a little taste of indulgence that's perfectly portioned. These flaky pockets of blueberry goodness have just a slight hint of lemon, thanks to a bit of lemon zest tossed in with the fresh blueberry filling. So if you're a pie fan that wants to celebrate Piπ Day, how about trying out these hand pies?...

I was inspired to make blueberry pie since there was a great deal on fresh blueberries at my local grocery store ($.98 a pint!) So I took advantage and made these Blueberry Hand Pies. It's a combination of 2 recipes coming from Cook's Illustrated (for the filling) and Alpineberry (for the flaky dough.) Together, they worked delicious to make these pies. I imagine you could substitute the blueberries for raspberries or even blackberries. Both those fruits go very well with lemon so it will work nicely using the same exact recipe. To serve, I paired my hand pies with a homemade lemon ice cream (recipe to come later today!)

Blueberry Hand Pies
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated and Alpineberry

1 recipe for Flaky Pie Crust Dough (recipe follows)
5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed & picked over
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 small lemon, zested  (for 1 teaspoon of zest ) and juiced (for 2 teaspoons juice)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and zest, spices, and tapioca; let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out your chilled dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out 4-inch circles. (You can reuse the dough scraps once. Lay the scraps, side by side slightly overlapping and roll them between plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 15 minutes before cutting out more circles from the rolled scraps.) You should get about 22-24 circles.

Spoon about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the blueberry filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges lightly with cold water (to help the dough stick) and fold dough in half. Using your fingers, press the border to seal it and then press the border using the tines of a fork. Refrigerate filled hand pies for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If desired, brush the chilled turnovers with egg glaze and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 steam vents into the top of each turnover. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and the filling is bubbling. Let hand pies cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Lemon Ice Cream if desired.

Flaky Pie Crust
(makes 20 ounces dough - enough pastry for 22-24 hand pies)

7 ounces (14 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/4 cups) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
5 to 7 tbsp ice water
1 tbsp cider vinegar

Divide the 7 ounces (14 tbsp) of butter into 2 portions: 4.5 ounces and 2.5 ounces (9 tbsp and 5 tbsp). Refrigerate the 4.5 ounce portion and freeze the 2.5 ounce portion for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Process for a few seconds to combine.

Add the 4.5 ounces of (refrigerated) butter and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 2.5 ounces of (frozen) butter and pulse until the frozen butter is the size of peas.

Add the 5 tbsp of ice water and the vinegar and pulse 6-7 times. Pinch a small amount of the mixture to see if it holds together. If not, add another 1 tbsp water and pulse 3 times. Try pinching again to see if it holds together. If not, add the final 1 tbsp water and pulse 3 times.

Divide the dough in half. Wrap each portion with plastic wrap and flatten into discs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.