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A Pie in Hand

Sure you’ve had pie, but have you had it like this? Leave your pie plates in the cupboard and try these portable, fruit-filled pockets.

Fine Cooking Issue 106
Photo by: Alexandra Grablewski
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My North Carolina-born husband comes from a renowned lineage of talented bakers. If you possess superior pie-making skills, you’re deemed to have “the gift.” The hand pie, an individual grab-and-go pastry, is held in especially high regard by the women in his family, Grandmother Louise and Aunt Ruth among them. Knowing this, I vowed to carry on the tradition.

The simple beauty of hand pies is that they’re meant to be eaten on the go, literally out of hand—no utensils (or sharing) required. They’re easy to transport: Take them on a picnic, to a bake sale, or to a potluck. And they’re a real treat at any time of day.

Hand pies make a great showcase for the season’s best fruit, but a luscious filling is only half of the pie equation. Equally important is the crust, which needs to be rich, flaky, and delicious but still firm enough to hold onto. Each of these doughs meets those expectations, and my pastry pointers help ensure that you’ll achieve hand pie success— my gift to you.

Dough on Demand

Because you never know when you’ll come across a glut of your favorite summer fruit, you might want to keep a stash of prepared dough in the freezer. Each of the doughs in these recipes can be frozen for up to three months. Here are a few tips for freezer success.

  • Tightly wrap the dough in at least two layers of plastic. Wrap masking tape around the plastic and label with the type of dough and the date it was made. Put the dough in a zip-top bag, seal, and freeze.
  • For hand pies that require circles or rectangles of dough, you can also roll out and cut the dough to size, then stack the pieces of dough (no more than six high), layering a square of parchment between each one. Wrap in plastic and freeze as described at left.
  • Defrost a batch of dough overnight in the refrigerator and then unwrap and roll out. For dough that has been cut prior to freezing, separate the frozen pieces and put them on their parchment bases on the kitchen counter. Thaw at room temperature, about 15 minutes, and then refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes before filling.


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