I used to think I was the kind of person who preferred pie with a high filling to crust ratio. To me, pastry was just an edible platform for that sweet, sweet fruity goodness and I assumed that was how I would always feel about it. Luckily, I was wrong. Apparently I'm all about the crust and just hadn't discovered the right recipe yet. More specifically, I hadn't discovered this recipe. It creates a crust is so buttery and flaky with just the right amounts of salty and sweet that you'll only need/want a smear of filling atop it's deliciousness.
Finding the right recipe means I can finally enjoy hand-pies with their high crust ratio. They're perfect for carting around to events because you don't need knives, forks, or plates to enjoy them. Just hands, mouth, and maybe a napkin for the flaky crusty crumbs. Plus they're ridiculously adorable. Look at them! They think they're real pies.
My recent obsessions with mini-pies means I've been turning out batch after batch to test different crust designs and filling flavors. One of my favorite fillings so far is simply strawberries, sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice that's simmered on the stove for a few minutes until thick and glossy. It stays put inside the pie like a jam would, but it's brighter and more fresh tasting because it hasn't been cooked down for as long.
This batch of pies got their shape from a mini pie mold that I snagged from a bargain bin. It's basically a glorified cookie cutter set with a plain bottom, lattice top (achieved by little diamond shapes) and a place in the center to squeeze the pie together. If you already have similar shaped cookie cutters and a fork to press your dough together, then I'd say skip the mold. I didn't have a scalloped cutter, so for 2.99 it was more than worth it.
The dough was made in the food processor using my fancy Stirling Butter, chilled, then rolled to a bit thicker than a 1/8th of an inch and cut into 18 scalloped pieces.
The bottom cut-outs were topped with just a tablespoon of strawberry filling. Any more than that and I found it too squishy to legitimately eat by hand.. thus soiling it's reputation as a true hand pie.
Then the lattice cut outs were placed on top and lightly sprinkled with flour before squeeeeezing the pieces together....
..and laying them on a parchment paper lined tray to be baked for 25 minutes until golden brown on the edges and bubbling in the center.
This particular batch of pies had a special purpose: wedding day treats for my lovely friend Rachele.
It's never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach and nobody wants a hungry bride..clearly pie was in order.
We all had a great time, partly because of pie, but mostly because Rachele was the most laid-back bride in existence. We literally lounged around eating mini-pies and chatting while we got our hair and make up done.No stress, no nerves.. just happy excitement and anticipation.
It's important to note that the pies were eaten whilst the bride was still in pajamas. Her wedding dress was tucked away in the closet, safe from potential crumbs and strawberry filling mishaps.
Proof that the dress remained pie free!
Strawberry Hand Pies
For the Crust
2 cups flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted Stirling butter, chilled and cut into cubes
½ cup very cold water
1 ½ cups diced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
1. To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix it all together. Next, add the cold butter and pulse until the pieces of butter are roughly pea-sized or slightly larger.
2. Pulse the water in one or two tablespoons at a time until the dough sticks together when pinched. It’s likely you will not need all of the water, and the dough will still look crumbly but should hold together when squeezed. You want to keep the dough flaky, so don't overwork it.
3. Dump half of the crumbly dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a square. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for an hour. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should be able to see small pieces of white butter in the dough.. that means it hasn't melted into the flour.
The filling can be made up to three days ahead of time, or while the dough is chilling in the fridge.
4. Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium pot and bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce to medium heat and simmer rapidly while stirring until the syrup is thick and glossy and the fruit is cooked through. This should take 6 - 9 minutes and the filling will thicken further during baking.
5.Cover the filling with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge if you are making it ahead of time. If you're making the filling the same day, chill in the freezer to speed up the cooling process. The filling can be warm or cool, but not hot when you add it to the pastry.
Assemble the hand pies:
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dust your counter with flour and roll out of one the squares of dough into a rectangle roughly 1/8th of an inch thick. It will be fairly crumbly, but try to avoid kneading it too much to keep it tender. I found that squeezing it together once helped it roll out nicely without losing the texture. Cut out nine pie pieces (4 tops, 5 bottoms or vice versa).
Place the pieces on the tray and chill in the fridge while you repeat with the remaining square of dough. You should have 18 pie pieces in total.
Lightly flour your pie mold and place a bottom piece on. Top with a tablespoon of filling and a lattice top. Lightly flour the mold again and then press the sides down to squish the pie together. Remove the pie from the mold, place on the tray and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Bake the mini-pies at 350 for 30 -35 minutes until golden brown on the edges and bubbling inside. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Full Disclosure: Stirling Butter provided me with butter, but I bake with it because I genuinely enjoy the quality. I did not receive any payment for this post