Hand pies are nostalgic. They recall childhood memories of biking with friends after school to a corner grocery store to find a rack of pies—wax-paper-sleeved, sugar- slicked, skimpy on the filling, but easy to grip in one hand as you wheeled leisurely down the street.
Homemade hand pies build on that nostalgia with better flavor and fresher fruit. This recipe yields hand pies full of fresh-picked sour cherries, in a tender, flaky, oven-baked crust with an optional sugar glaze. A bit of almond flour in the dough and red wine vinegar in the filling adds nice texture and flavor. These pies are large enough to share, although you may want to eat one all by yourself as you linger over your weekend reading.
Choose fresh sour cherries from a farmers’ market or use thawed frozen sour cherries when fresh ones aren’t available. One tip: to pit fresh sour cherries, a counter-mounted cherry-pitter is very helpful.
For pie crust:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 sticks ice cold butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For sour cherry filling:
- 1 1/2 pounds sour cherries, rinsed well, stems, leaves, and pits removed to make 3 cups
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, squeezed from 1/2 fresh lemon
- Zest from 1/2 fresh lemon
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For egg wash and finish:
- 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water, whisked together
For sugar glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar (Note: If you use organic, it may give the glaze a slightly golden color)
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk/or light cream
Make pie crusts:
In a large, wide, shallow bowl, sift flour, almond flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut butter into the flour. Whisk egg with water and pour into center of the mixture. Sprinkle vinegar over. Using a fork stir together until dough comes together with a few crumbly bits still in the bowl. Spread work surface with two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap to make a square. Scoop dough and crumbly bits onto plastic. Lift the corners of the plastic up to make a bundle; squeeze and knead dough through plastic wrap until it all gathers into a ball of dough. (If still too crumbly, place back in bowl and add another teaspoon of water.) Spread plastic back out. Pat dough into a lumpy disk. Cover with two more sheets of plastic making a square over the dough. Roll dough out just a bit through plastic into a flat circular mound. Remove top plastic and cut disk into four parts. Spread work surface with two pieces of overlapping plastic wrap to make another square. Place one of the four dough pieces on the wrap. Shape into a circle. Cover again with two squares of plastic and roll out into a 7-inch circle. Place dough circle—still with plastic wrap squares on both sides—on round baking sheet. Repeat for remaining three pieces of dough. Place stack of dough circles on baking sheet in refrigerator while you make the filling.
Place pitted cherries in a strainer. Lightly press to release some juice into a bowl. Place pitted cherries, sugars, salt, lemon zest, and vanilla in a heavy-bottomed pot. Set aside. To the bowl of cherry juice, add vinegar, and lemon juice; whisk in cornstarch to make a slurry. Heat pot of cherries over medium-low heat. Stir in slurry. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, glaze clears, and cherries are softened. Remove from heat to cool.
Remove one disk of dough from the fridge. Leaving plastic square on both sides, gently roll out dough circle to a level 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 6-inch bowl, trace a 6-inch circle onto the plastic wrap-covered dough circle with a sharpie. Using kitchen shears, trim off the edge of the dough. Repeat process until all dough circles are trimmed. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. With oven rack set to center position, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place one trimmed dough circle on work surface. Remove top sheet of plastic. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cherry filling on one half of the circle. Fold other half of dough up and over the filling, using the bottom plastic to help you lift and fold. Using the tines of a fork, press down and around the now-double- thickness edge of the pie through the remaining plastic to seal the pie. Lift finished hand pie toward parchment-lined baking sheet, flip to place; discard plastic. Repeat for remaining three pies. Brush pies liberally with egg wash. Cut slits in top of each pie to vent steam. Place sheet pan full of pies in refrigerator for 1 hour, or in freezer for ½ hour.
Place parchment-lined baking sheet full of chilled hand pies in oven. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes, until pies are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack.
Glaze and serve:
Whisk powdered sugar with softened butter. Whisk in milk or cream and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over hand pies. Serve warm or at room temperature.