If I were to name one dessert that I adore to make time and time again, it would have to be pie. I think the best pie crust I ever made, was in Paris. I'm not sure if it was the flour I used, the delicious Parisian butter, my frame of mind, or something in the air. Something special in Paris led to me making a wonderfully delightful crust. Upon reflection, it could have been the relatively quick knead. I was pressed for time and made the dough in a rush. I skipped chilling the dough all together. I know that chilling the dough allows the butter to stay evenly layered throughout the crust, contributing to the rich flakes. But, the colder the dough, the harder I find I have to work it, often leading to me over-working. So now, I resort to a quick chill in the fridge, cooling the butter enough to prevent it from melting over the counter, but not too hard to knead. I do it all within a short time frame. Also, I found this new technique, rolling the butter into the dough instead of chopping in with a pastry cutter. Also, the addition of buttermilk, which is a new strategy for me.
Last week, I wanted to make some mini pies for breakfast. I wanted a bit of variety, so I chose three flavors, one savory for Brent, and the rest sweet for myself. The crust is delightful, flaky and full of flavor. There is a bit of a fuss involved with folding the sweet pies. Cherry juice running through the seems. But, the savory was dreamy to fold. Mashed potato, cheese, and broccoli created a perfect filling, easy to handle. They have turned out to be quite a perfect little snack and a great way to get some fuel on the go!
MINI HAND PIE RECIPE
makes 10 mini pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water for brushing
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, diced
2 1/2 cups strawberries, diced
2 tbsp minute tapioca
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
raw sugar crystals for topping
SOUR CHERRY INGREDIENTS
2 cups dark Morello cherries
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp white sugar
sliced almonds for topping
1 potato, peeled, boiled, and mashed
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped finely
1 tbsp butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold chopped butter cubes, and mix together with a wooden spoon. Dump the flour and butter onto a work surface, and with your rolling pin, roll the butter into the flour creating long sheets of butter. This will contribute to extra flakiness. Use the dough scraper to remove the butter from the rolling pin, and work surface between rolls. Continue in this manner, until all of the butter has been rolled flat. Place the flour and butter back into the bowl and place into the freezer for 15 minutes to re-chill.
Remove the bowl from the freezer. Slowly add the cold buttermilk to the flour mixture and incorporate with a spoon. Plop the dough onto the counter and begin to gently knead with your hands. The dough should start to stick together quickly. If it does not come together within 7 or 8 kneads, slowly add one tbsp of cold water at a time. You want to knead as little as possible and limit the amount of water that you add. Kneading will form gluten, as will adding more water. Gluten contributes to elasticity, which is not a desired characteristic in the crust. Once kneaded, divide in two and roll into disks. Wrap in Saran and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will help relax the gluten and make it easier to roll out.
While the dough is chilling, start by peeling, cubing and boiling the potatoes. Once the potatoes have become soft, add the broccoli and boil for 2 more minutes. Drain the water and mash the two together, still leaving a few large chunks of potato. Add the butter, cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix with a spoon and set to the side.
While the potatoes are boiling chop the rhubarb and strawberries. Place into a bowl with tapioca, lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon. Set to the side.
In a small bowl, add the cherries with a few tbsp of their own juice. Add the vanilla and white sugar and let sit.
Preheat the oven to 400 ºF.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Take some flour and dust the counter. Start by rolling out one piece of dough until it's 1/8 inch thick. Using a small-medium bowl, cut a round circular shape. Place 3 - 4 tbsp of filling into one half of the dough circle. Dip your finger into a bowl of water and pat the edge of the pastry. Fold it in half and press together with your fingers. With a fork, press down the outside edge to create a tighter seal and add a bit of a design. You will likely have a bit of each filling left over. Place the pies onto a baking sheet and place back into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the freezer and brush with the egg + water mixture. Make 3 small slits into each pie. Sprinkle the almonds onto the cherry pies, and raw sugar crystals onto the strawberry rhubarb. Place into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the filling should start to bubble through the tops of the pie. Remove from the oven and let cool.
You can freeze for a later day or store in the fridge for up to a week.