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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peach Hand Pies (and how they taught my kids about Twinkies)

Oh, good heavens. These are everything you would want them to be. I always want to make something good for Dessert Club but for some reason this time I really, really wanted to bring my A game. I pored through cookbooks and websites, choosing, then rejecting, at least ten, maybe fifteen, different summery things. So many things I almost made. But when I thought of hand pies, and then found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen, who I trust without question, my search was over.

Peaches are my favorite summer fruit. So fleeting. So rarely perfect, so like-buttah when they are. So juicy and delightful - they taste and look look like the sun. However, that said, you can make these with any filling. I've only tried peaches, but I'm sure raspberries, blackberries, cherries, blueberries, etc. would all make delightful hand pies. Just adjust sugar to taste and flour to juiciness.

What I'm saying is that the crust is the star and the key of this recipe. As SK says, yes, it is fussy. There is a lot of chilling between steps so make sure you have room for a baking sheet or two in your fridge before starting. And make sure you will be home for several hours! Just so you know. But it goes without saying they they are worth it. Best, best, best.And here's what they have to do with Twinkies. I had looked over the recipe and knew I had everything. Then on the day of Dessert Club I took out the recipe and realized my sour cream was gone. I had cleaned out the fridge the day before and tossed all the sour cream - it wasn't bad but I didn't know how old it was and couldn't think of anything immediate I would need it for (stupid, stupid, stupid!) So it's 1 pm, the baby is sleeping, I'm ready to cook, and I am missing the crucial ingredient. Quick calculations - if she wakes up before 3 and we run to the store for just one thing, I can still have them done by 8:30! So I went about other work (chilling my other crust ingredients), with a stressful eye on the clock.

Baby wakes up, I call to the other girls to get their shoes on. Ginger comes down. "Hazel's asleep." Dang. Hazel sleeps like a rock and is as heavy as one. Baby is crying, hungry. I give Ginger marshmallows and tell her to feed them to Poppy one by one. I shake Hazel frantically, "We gotta go, we gotta go!" Skipping ahead, it was super hard to wake her up - I had to carry her down the stairs and promise treats - "You can pick out ANYTHING you want at the store, we just need to go now!"

On the way there, I rattled off some choices so they wouldn't take forever - "You can get M&M's, popiscles, Twinkies, popcorn, ..."

"Mom, what are Twinkies?"

It is a testament to my desperation that I consciously decided in that moment to actually tell my kids about, and then show them in the store, the entire line of Hostess products. Cupcakes, ho-h0's, Donettes, and yes, Twinkies. I remember Twinkies being the end-all ultimate treat of my childhood. Now I know they are pretty disgusting. And yet, last week on the day of Dessert Club, my three girls and I left the grocery store with sour cream, popsicles and Twinkies. Since then (less than a week), they have asked for Twinkies two more times (luckily we only got a 2-pack and not a whole box.)

That is the position I have put myself in just so YOU can have these pies.

Peach Hand Pies (print recipe)

Makes 14 to 24 (depending on cutter size)

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 ts. salt
16 T (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds peaches (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl or small Ziploc bag, combine the flour and salt. Place the cut-up 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. This step could also be done in the food processor - pulse until it resembles coarse meal, add liquid and pulse until it comes together slightly, but be very careful to not overwork the dough.

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-to-5 inch biscuit cutter, cut 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 1/4-inch cutter and got about 9 circles from each half after rerolling scraps, with a little dough leftover for my dough-munching husband.)

3. Make the filling: Peel and chop the peaches into small bits (approx. 1/2-inch dice), much smaller than you’d use for a regular-sized pie. Mix them with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add the vanilla.

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 (my 4 1/4-inch circles would only hold 1 tablespoon) 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, about 20 to 26 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.LinkRecipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen (comments in parentheses are mine)

1 year ago: Baked Buttermilk Donuts
2 years ago: Deep Dark Double Chocolate Bread

1 comment:

Sheri Wadman said...

I wish could have helped! FYI for next time, I almost always have sour cream in my fridge (so I can make ranch for when we get hot wings - which is often) and I am just a phone call away.

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