Most recent update: 7/8/19
Cherry hand pies. The perfect, portable summer treat. Pack them in lunches, take them to potluck dinners, freeze them for the cold months when you need a burst of summer. Just make them! Made from scratch, these mini pies are a hand held remake of a childhood classic.
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Cherry Hand Pies
Do you remember your favorite childhood treat? Mine was Hostess Cherry Pies. Cloyingly sweet cherry pie filling encased in a lackluster pastry shell coated with a cavity-inducing glaze of white icing.
To think of eating one now does absolutely nothing for me, but the 10 year old version of me would happy devour that sugar bomb.
There was an old, creaky, wooden screen door that would slap shut with a “thwack” every time you walked in, paint barely clinging to it. The floors resembled a patchwork quilt, tiles being replaced as needed, never all at once.
The cooler near the front hummed loudly as the compressor kicked on and off, a reminder of where he kept the frozen treats.
Rows of cans and boxes lined up, fluorescent lighting sputtering and buzzing above me. Being greeted by a gentle smile. My grandmother knew him and therefore, he knew us. I remember buying bazooka gum for a nickel in that little store. And Hostess cherry pies.
Handheld Cherry Pies
These portable packages would also be a perfect addition to a picnic basket or a summer gathering. Just stack them up on a plate and let people help themselves. No need for utensils, plates or clean-up, which in my opinion is the best thing about these hand pies.
They are little pockets of goodness. Everyone went wild for these cherry hand pies. They disappeared before I got a chance to snag one for myself.
How to Make Cherry Hand Pies
The first thing we have to do is make the dough for the crust. This will need to chill in the refrigerator for a bit, so it is the first step.
Slice the COLD butter. This is important. The butter must be cold, if it gets too warm, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up again.
Zest your lemons and measure out the flour, then combine everything in a medium bowl.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are the size of a pea.
Make the filling
Step one in this is pitting cherries. It’s not too laborious, if you have a cherry pitter. I highly recommend getting one if you don’t own one. You can also use it for olives, so it does double duty.
Once you have the cherries pitted, chop them up and put them in a small pot to make your filling.
Roll out dough and assemble pies
You ‘ll need a rolling pin for this bit and my maple rolling dowel is the one I reach for. It works perfectly for rolling out crust and keeping everything even. You have to decide how big you want to make your hand pies. Choose a cutter of the appropriate size and cut out the dough. Make sure you have an even number – you’ll need 2 pieces per pie.
I made 2 different sizes so you could see the difference. It is only a slight difference in size, but it will change the number of pies you get out of the dough. Also, keep in mind that the dough shrinks a little while it is baking, so the pies will be just a smidge smaller after baking.
If you have kids who like to help in the kitchen, this is a great recipe to make with them. They can help you spoon the filling onto the dough discs, help with egg washing or sprinkling the tops with sugar.
What do I need to make these?
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For the Crust
- 3 3/4 cups 470 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 12 ounces unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces (3 sticks)
- 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
For the Egg Wash
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water.
- If you want to dust the top with sugar, you will also need sanding sugar or any coarse sugar.
- prepare egg wash, get out the pastry brush & set aside.
For the Cherry Filling
- 3 cups pitted cherries, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds whole cherries)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
- juice of half a lemon
Make the dough
- Whisk together flour, zest, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.
- Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a bit of a mass forms, then knead it two or three times to form a ball.
- If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. (I had to add all of the remaining 1/4 cup)
- Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. (Life got in the way & mine was in there for 3 days... It was fine)
Make the Filling
- Combine the cherries, sugar and salt in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
- Increase heat slightly to bring to a simmer for 5 more minutes.
- In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in a few teaspoons of the cherry juice from the pot and stir until smooth.
- Pour the cornstarch mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 6 to 8 more minutes). Turn off heat and add lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Transfer to a non-metal bowl and allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Generously flour the counter top, then unwrap one of your disks of dough. Gently begin rolling it out, starting from the center and pushing outward. The dough will be pretty firm when you begin, so be patient, but it will warm quickly... so not too patient!
- Keep rolling from the center out, turning the dough as you go, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. If the butter in the dough begins to get too warm and it starts to stick to the pin or gets goopy, slide it onto a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up again.
- Once dough is rolled out, cut out with a 2 1/2 - 3 inch cutter, whatever shape you have, or use a knife and cut into squares. I only had a round cutter of the appropriate size, so that's what I used.
- Lightly brush half of your circles or squares with the egg wash, taking care to get the edges, cut vents in the center of the other half of your circles/squares. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the egg washed halves and top with the vented pieces. (don't overfill!) Seal with your fingertips or press with a fork along the edges.
- Brush with the egg wash on top and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chill in refrigerator before baking if dough begins to get mushy. Repeat with remaining disk of dough, filling, etc.
- Place on baking sheet 1 - 2 inches apart and bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden and puffed.
- Cool on wire rack.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 38mg Sodium: 156mg Carbohydrates: 20g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g Protein: 3g