Don’t you just love June? I’m planning our evening meals based on garden strolls – picking artichokes here and there, clipping rhubarb and gathering berries. It just feels right to eat what gifts our summer garden is giving us right now.
We are in the thick of berry season on our homestead – happy times indeed. The red currants are dripping with ripe berries. The ever-bearing raspberry canes are bent over with fruit. Juniper always seems to uncover more and more strawberries in the garden.
What to do with all these berries? Often I freeze or can them, but my latest culinary discovery may put a hold on those plans. I give you…. the hand pie.
What’s a hand pie?
Hand pies are basically mini pies that you can stuff with a couple tablespoons of your favorite pie filling. It’s the perfect size for picnics, afternoon snacks or a light dessert. Thanks to this inspiring post from NPR’s Kitchen Window program, we’ve been enjoying strawberry-rhubarb hand pies on these long June evenings.
Hand pie dough
I was skeptical of their pie dough recipe, so I stuck with my adapted version of Alice Waters’ tart dough from her book The Art of Simple Food. Your favorite flaky pie crust recipe can be easily adapted for hand pies as well. Just roll out the pie dough to 1/4″ thickness and use a bowl about 4″ wide to cut circles in it. Then roll the circles a bit thinner to about 1/8″ thickness.
When those dough circles are ready to go, place about two tablespoons of filling in the center of the round. Lightly beat one egg, then brush a little along the edges of the dough rounds. Fold the dough rounds over in half, roll the edges to close and press with your finger tips to seal.
Cut a couple slits in each pie for ventilation and transfer to a baking sheet. Lightly beat an egg, then brush over the top of the hand pies. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. They are done when the dough is golden and the filling bubbles out.
Hand pie filling
Since we’re up to our necks in strawberries and rhubarb, I simplified the NPR recipe to suit our tastes. I mixed three cups of rhubarb with two cups of strawberries, which is a slightly-sweet combo that makes the rhubarb stand out more. Add two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of cornstarch,
Warm the mixture over medium heat for ten minutes, stirring often, until it has thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool before spooning into the hand pie dough.
Lots of other combinations will work as well, keeping us stuffed with pie all summer long. I find five cups of fruit is enough to fill twelve pies. Here are some other good combos to try:
- Blueberries + peaches + 2 T brown sugar + 1tsp corn starch
- Blackberries + raspberries + blueberries + 2 T honey + 1 tsp cornstarch
- Apples + blackberries + 2 T sugar + 1 tsp cornstarch (simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes until softened)
Hand pies have been a fun way to make mini-desserts using whatever fruits are in season from our garden. I’m not sure it’s great for my waistline, but it’s sure a delicious way to savor the summer harvest.