Pie #30: Baked Cherry Hand Pies

Posted by Chrisi

For Christmas 2009 my husband gave me FOUR pocket pie molds from Williams Sonoma: a heart, a pumpkin, a star and an apple.  It was one of those “Ghee! Thanks honey!” moments.  B couldn’t understand my lack of enthusiasm.  Did I not bake pies for a hobby?  Did I not write a pie blog? Was this not a thoughtful gift?  When hubby asked, “Do you like your gift?” I had to say, “Of course, honey, I love it!”  In my head I was screaming, “No! No! No!” Most women probably understand my angst.  For everyone else, let me explain. 

I am not Suzie Homemaker (not even close).  I am a career woman and a self-confessed work-a-holic (partly because the job demands it and partly because I choose it).  I make homemade pies because pie makes people happy… and that makes me happy.  Pies are a gift of love—a gift that says, “You’re special to me.  That’s why I took the time to make this pie for you.”  Some pies (especially if they require pitting cherries by hand) demonstrate a lot of love.  The scientist in me could probably devise an empirical formula that describes the positive correlation between the time required to make a pie and my affection.  Such an equation would resemble a logarithmic curve, meaning it would rise to a certain point and then flatten out.  Non-mathematical translation: My love for some (my husband) is infinite but my time is not.  The construction of individual hand pies hits the threshold—the flat part of the curve.  Individual pies are just too much work as I discovered during the Lollipies experiment.

That said… let’s fast forward to July 5, 2011… our 8th wedding anniversary.  I thought, “What can I do for B for our anniversary? Ahhh, I can make eight heart-shaped cherry pies. One pie for each year of marriage. He would really like that.”  And that’s exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, on Christmas 2009, I decided (and held fast to the idea) that any hand pie attempt would be onerous AND disastrous.  The crust would tear.  The filling would ooze out.  It would be a mess. And worst of all… the pies would be ugly!  Therefore, I started this anniversary project in a horrible mood.  OK, I was bridezilla.  My husband slinked around in fear, surely wondering how he survived eight years of marriage with this monstrous woman.  I cursed!  I ranted!  I fumed!  And the pies turned out… lovely.  Yes, some oozed a little.  They weren’t all perfect but they tasted really &#$%ing awesome.  And that’s how I would summarize eight years of marriage… not perfect, a little messy and pretty &#$%ing awesome.  Happy Aniversary BB!  I love you!

Crust: 9” double crust.  Makes 10 individual pies.

Filling (from “Fried Cherry Pies” recipe in Pie)
·       3 cups of fresh, pitted sweet cherries
·       1/2 cup dried, sweet cherries
·       1/2 cup raw, granulated sugar
·       2 tablespoons orange juice
·       1 tablespoon lemon juice
·       1/4 cup water
·       1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
·       1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the filling first.  Simmer the fresh and dried cherries in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly (my fresh cherries were not very juicy).  Add the sugar, orange juice and lemon juice. Cover and simmer until the mixture is juicy, approximately 3-4 minutes (the cherries did juice up). While the cherries are cooking, combine the water and cornstarch.  Add the cornstarch slurry to the fruit and cook at a low boil until the cherries are thickened and glossy, approximately two minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.  Allow the cherry filling to cool to room temperature before assembling the pies.

Divide the crust into halves—just as you would if you were making a pie with a double crust.  Roll out half of the dough so that it is ~1/8” thick.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple of minutes before cutting the dough.  This makes the dough easier to work with but be careful.  If the dough is too cold, it will become brittle. As stated above, I used the Williams Sonoma heart-shaped pocket pie mold to cut and crimp the dough.  The mold is two-sided.  One side cuts a solid heart shape (bottom).  The other side cuts a heart-shaped vent (top).  Alternate cutting the top and bottom pieces.  Try to cut the shapes as close as possible to maximize usage of the dough.  Combine the scraps, re-roll and repeat until all the dough is used.  I rolled out half of the dough, assembled the pies and then rolled out the other half of the dough. 

To assemble the pies, place the bottom crust in the pie mold and press it down gently so that it conforms to the mold.  Add ~2 tablespoons of filling.  (I found that a medium-sized stainless steel scoop from the Pampered Chef delivered just the right amount of filling).  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with egg wash (glue) and place the top crust over the filling.  Press the top half of the pie mold down to crimp and seal the pie.  Remove the pie from the mold and glaze the top with egg wash.  The following link has photos that show how different egg washes produce a certain brownness, crispiness or sheen to the crust.  Sprinkle each pie with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400F until the crust is golden brown and the filling is a little bubbly, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.


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