Monday, November 11, 2013

Cranberry Hand Pies

I've been fixing to make hand pies for a while now. I saw the season's first bag of fresh cranberries at the store this weekend and couldn't wait to get baking!

These little beauties are made using a simple puff pastry that's sort of a half pie crust and half puff pastry.  The pastry is quite sturdy and seems like it might even be tough and dense after baking, but it's actually incredibly flaky and completely delicious.  I flavored my pastry with a little brown sugar and almond extract. was good!

I got a little greedy and thought I had over stuffed my pies.

But the filling is thick enough that it barely oozes out of the openings even after they split wide open at the edges!

You can shape these any way you like.  I made some into triangles, trimmed some into half circles and also folded a couple into rectangles.  The two picture above were my favorite.

This is a good recipe to make over a long lazy day or two.  It's all really easy, but there are big breaks when things cool and chill.

Rough Puff Pastry
Inspired by Korena in the Kitchen's rough puff pastry.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into a large dice
1/3 cup ice water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in butter.  Toss the butter until coated in flour.  Squeeze handfuls of butter through your fingers and hands until the butter chunks have flattened and no pieces are bigger than the size of lima beans.

Using a fork, quickly stir in very cold ice water and almond extract. Turn the rough dough and crumbs onto a work surface.  Form the crumbs into a rough square mass about an inch thick.

Using the heels of your hands, press the mass of crumbs away from you to smear the butter out and into the flour.  Use a bench scraper or wide putty knife to fold the rough dough and crumbs over in half or in thirds, then press with your hands again. The dough will be very dry.  Don't add water to bring the dough together unless you absolutely have to.  And in this case, only add a sprinkle.  Continue folding and working the dough until most of the crumbs have been picked up from the table and the dough is coming together, though still rough and chunky.  Form your dough into a mass and set aside.  Clean your work surface with your putty knife and lightly flour the surface.

Roll the dough into a rectangular mass about 12 inches by 6 inches.  Using a wide putty knife, tri-fold the dough like a letter.  Add a little flour to your rolling pin and surface as needed to keep things from sticking.  Roll out the dough into a rectangle and tri-fold again.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll again.  Continue tri-folding, turning and rolling 2 to 3 times more, until the butter has been mostly incorporated into the dough.  Tri-fold like a letter, then fold in half to form a folded block of dough.  Chill for about an hour.  Roll, tri-fold, turn and roll a few times to form a smooth firm dough.  Form a folded block of dough again and chill for another hour or up to a day.

Filling and assembly:

Cranberry Pie Filling

2 tablespoons fresh tangerine or clementine juice
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of one small tangerine or clementine
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Raw sugar

Stir together tangerine juice and cornstarch in a medium saucepan until the starch is dissolved.  Add cranberries and sugar and stir together. Cook over medium heat, stirring here and there, until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Stir in cherries, cinnamon and zest.  Simmer for about 5 minutes until most of the cranberries have burst.  Let cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate for several days before using, if you like.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425F.

Roll out your chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a square about 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into 9 squares.

Brush edges of the squares with egg that's been beaten with water. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each square. Fold each square in half corner to corner to form a triangle shaped pie. Using a fork, crimp 1/4-inch around edges to seal. Place on your baking sheet an inch or two apart.

Preheat oven to 425°. Slice 2 half inch slits in the center of each pie. Brush tops of pies with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles out, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.


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