Apple Hand Pies

Apple Pie: rustic, flaky, tart, and spicy. The most iconic of American traditions.

These marvelous little pies package up the best parts of apple pie, eliminate a lot of the work, and deliver scrumptious, addictive fruit-wrapped-in-crust that can be stowed away in your pocket for safe keeping. Hand pies have been making their way around the blog universe since the beginning of summer, it seems, and I’ve been meaning to make them but never quite got around to it. So when Annie asked if I was interested in making the Bourbon Peach Hand Pies that were featured on smitten kitchen,  I was intrigued. While I’m not much of a peach fan, I figured I could use Deb’s dough recipe and sub in my own apple filling, which is what I did.

These hand pies are a fantastic option for changing up the traditional slice of pie and ice cream and would be especially welcome as a dessert at an outdoor gathering or one that included small children. And really, for the kid in all of us – what’s much better than a slice of apple pie that you can pick up and carry around with you?

The dough for this recipe is really just incredible. I admit that I was somewhat skeptical at first, as it contained sour cream. I had never heard or seen sour cream used in a pie or pastry dough before, so it certainly caused me to raise an eyebrow. But like the good trooper that I am, I forged ahead. The dough takes some time to prepare, so make sure you have 2-3 hours of available time (most of it is inactive chill time) prior to baking the pies. While it may be a slight inconvenience, it really is what makes this dough so spectacular. The repeated chills give this dough such an incredibly buttery, flaky texture, much like that of a laminated dough you would create for croissants. It is absolutely worth the time to prepare these – you won’t be sorry!

If you just happen to be asking yourself if these little hand pies would make a perfect breakfast pastry, well then, the answer is a resounding YES! Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… I’m just saying…

Apple Hand Pies

Yield: 20 hand pies

Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 40 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup ice water

For the Filling:
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced small
1/3 cup sugar

One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Coarse sanding sugar, for decoration

Directions:

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. If preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored at this point for up to one month in the freezer.

2. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut seven circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough. (I used a 4-inch cutter-if you can call a "cutter" the tin edge of the container that holds my smaller round cutters-and managed to get 12 from each dough half, after rerolling the scraps.)

3. Mix the diced apple with the sugar, and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the apples are tender. Set aside. Prior to preparing the pies, drain any accumulated liquid from the apples.

4. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons filling (use the smaller amount for a 4-inch circle) onto one half of each circle of dough. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how thick you rolled the dough. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)