If there's anything better than homemade pie, it's a petite and crusty hand pie that you can claim as your own and nibble at leisure. And if there's anything better than a hand pie, it's one that's filled with jammy summer peaches and just a touch of spicy ginger. Don't you think? These hand pies are just the thing to take to summer picnics or even slip into a lunch box as a special treat. They're flaky little pockets that can be eaten in three or four good-sized bites, no utensils required and satisfaction guaranteed. Don't forget napkins for catching the buttery crumbs.
An afternoon in the kitchen makes enough hand pies to feed a crowd, but I'll admit they're a bit time-consuming. To better fit into your schedule, you could make the dough and shape the pies on one day, freeze them overnight, and then bake them straight from the freezer the next day. You could even save the frozen pies in a freezer container and bake just a few at a time as you want them.
Peach Ginger Hand PiesMakes 16-20 hand pies
1 Double Pie Crust, or use your favorite recipe (enough to make two 9" crusts)
1 1/2 pounds (5-6 medium) peaches
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
Extra sugar for sprinkling
Make the pie dough according to your recipe, dividing it into two disks and refrigerating for an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Peel the peaches (see note below) and dice small. Combine the peaches, lemon juice, sugar, ginger, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Let macerate for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the pie crusts.
Bring out one disk of pie dough and let it sit on a flour-dusted counter for a few minutes until it's no longer rock solid. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick — slightly thicker than a normal pie crust. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or wide-mouth drinking glass to cut as many circles as possible. Gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut additional circles. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough beginning to soften, chill the circles for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Roll each circle of dough out to 1/8" thick and about 5" wide. Dust lightly with flour and transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. It's ok if the circles overlap. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
While the dough circles are chilling, strain the peaches. Set a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the peaches into it, allowing the excess juice to drain away. Save the leftover juice for mixing with sparkling water or cocktails. Return the peaches to their original bowl and add the flour, tossing to coat.
Remove the tray of dough circles from the refrigerator. Working one circle at a time, place 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of peaches on the front edge of the circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border (Remember to save half the peaches for the second half.) Brush the edges with a little milk and fold the top half of the dough over the peaches. Use the tines of a fork to gently seal the edges. Repeat with remaining dough circles.
Arrange the pies at least an inch apart on the baking sheet. Cut a few small slits in the top of each pie with a knife, brush the tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35 minutes or until the tops begin to brown. Don't worry if some of the filling leaks out.
While the first batch of pies are baking, roll, chill, and shape the second batch using the second disk of pie dough.
Allow the pies to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before eating. Hand pies are best the day they are made, but will keep in a sealed container for up to a week.
• Peeling Peaches - Firm peaches can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Softer peaches are best peeled by dunking them in boiling water for 45-60 seconds. The peels will slip off easily with a paring knife.
• Short-Cut Hand Pies - Sheets of frozen puff pastry are a great pastry alternative when you're not in the mood for making your own pie dough from scratch.
• Freezing Pies for Later - Freeze the hand pies in a single layer on a baking sheet right after shaping them and cutting the steam vents. Once frozen solid, they can be gathered together and stored in a freezer container. To bake, arrange the frozen pies an inch apart on a baking sheet, brush them with milk and sprinkle them with sugar. Bake as directed. These pies my need a few extra minutes in the oven, but not much. They are done when the tops and edges are golden-brown.
Related: Back to Basics Cherry Pie
Originally published August 26, 2009
(Images: Emma Christensen)