8.24.2011

Peach Hand Pies

I think I have the power to change the world. Like, seriously. I don’t believe in most of that new age stuff, but I think maybe that “law of attraction” thing might have something going for it. You know, that “think it and it’ll be true” theory. Lately, I keep thinking about something, and bam! There it is. Like the sweltering heat. During Ice Cream Week, I said how much I hated it and how done I was with it. The very next day, it was a comfortable 80 degrees, with not one single 90 degree day since. While baking for the fair, my initial vanilla cupcakes didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. I thought to myself, “I’m going to need a new recipe.” Oh look, My Baking Addiction just put up a recipe for vanilla cupcakes. So I baked them. And they won. 1st place. And most recently, I somehow convinced Joy the Baker, unbeknownst to her, that I needed a recipe to use up the gorgeous peaches my mom brought over from a local farm. The next morning I turn on my computer, and boom. She’s got a recipe for Peach Blueberry Pie.


Watch out world. I’ve apparently got some superpowers.

Because I can’t do anything full-sized, I decided to make them into mini-pies instead (without the blueberries). I’d made strawberry hand pies about a week before for a (not-my-own) family cookout, which I was in too much of a hurry to snap more than 1 picture of. So I thought I’d give peach a try as well, using Joy the Baker’s recipe instead. Searching around for a reference of how much filling to use for a hand pie brought me to Smitten Kitchen's Bourbon Peach Hand Pies. Mmm. I loved the bourbon in my Peach Cobbler, and this is an adaptation I know Joy would approve of.


Awhile back, I asked my fellow Facebookers how they made their pie crusts. It seemed like almost everyone did something different! Some used all butter, some nothing but shortening, some used lard, some did a more than 1. Well that didn’t solve my first time pie baking dilemma! I had no idea which to use! So I turned to Google to figure out what the difference was. Here’s what I found out from a very good explanation from Baking Bites:

*Butter is made up of mostly fat with a bit of water (about 1/5th of it). When the butter melts in the oven, it releases that water as steam, which creates a little pocket of air. All these little pockets of air create the layers in your crust that make it flaky. The butter also contributes to the overall flavor of the crust.

*Shortening is all fat, no water. When the shortening melts in the oven, it makes the crust even more tender than butter does, because you’re not losing any of it to steam, so every bit of the fat is soaking into the crust. However, without the steam, you don’t get the quite the flakiness you would with butter, nor are you getting much flavor.

*Lard is a bit of both worlds. It’s got most of the properties of shortening, being 100% fat, with the bonus of added flavor.

Well, I don’t generally keep lard on hand, so that option was out. I decided to adapt Joy’s to use a combo with a 3:1 butter to shortening ratio. I wanted the flavor and flakiness of butter without sacrificing some of the tenderness of the shortening. And it came out beautifully. Can I say how absolutely in love I am with making pie crust now? Seriously. I’m going to turn into a pie making machine soon! That 30x30 goal is going to be smashed! And I may have to change my stance on baked fruit. Cause between the peach cobbler, the strawberry pies, and these peach hand pies, I couldn’t stop myself from devouring them. These are sweet with a little hint of spice, and the perfect little hand-held size to grab a couple on every pass through the kitchen. (Which is exactly how the strawberry version disappeared. At the cookout, every time we saw Stacey’s husband, Bryan, he had a pie in his mouth and 2 in his hand.)

I realized with the strawberry version that 1 slit in the top is sufficient. 2 looks like a vampire attacked them.

I’m already envisioning an apple and a pumpkin version of these coming soon. And I’m excited to try out my new toy I found at Target the other day. (Yet another mind suggestion example?) I can’t wait for fall!






Peach Hand Pies
Adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 2 dozen



Crust:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) shortening, cut into small cubes
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Filling:
3 large ripe peaches
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Make crust: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, add shortening and chilled butter and cut into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. (Some will look like oatmeal flakes, others will be the size of peas.) Stir together ice water and vinegar. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add liquid, stirring until dough comes together and holds together when squeezed. If mixture is too dry, add additional water, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.
2. Divide dough in half and create a disk out of each. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
3. Make filling: Chop peaches into small pieces (about ½-inch dice). Mix in a medium bowl with sugar, flour, cornstarch, and spices. Add bourbon (if using) and vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
4. Assemble: Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll one dough disk out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles with a 3-inch cutter, gathering scraps and rerolling. (If dough becomes soft, chill in refrigerator again.) Repeat with remaining dough.
5. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each circle, making sure not to overfill (otherwise it won’t seal!) and brush the edges of the circle with a bit of egg wash. Fold dough over to create a half circle, and press the edges firmly with the tines of a fork to seal. Place on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Chill on baking sheets for another 30 minutes.
6. In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Remove chilled pies from oven and cut a small slit in the top of each. Lightly brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until tops are golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

For Strawberry variation:
Adapted from BetsyLife

Filling:
1 ½ cups strawberries, hulled and diced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (I might add more next time)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine in a large bowl, stirring together until well coated.

Follow the directions above, substituting the strawberry filling for the peach.

Omit the cinnamon from the topping and sprinkle with just granulated sugar before baking.

Once cooled, in a small bowl combine:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk

Drizzle over cooled pies. (If mixture is too thick, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it is too thin, add a little bit more sugar.)
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2 comments:

Jo and Sue said...

These look so good :)Just in time for back to school!
Hand pies go great in the kid's lunches.

Linda said...

Gorgeous pies! I have a go-to pie crust recipe that is all shortening, but by golly I think I want to try yours! LOL at the vampire attack - pies always taste better when berry juice has oozed out onto the crust, IMO. And I love that these are baked instead of fried.

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