Big, family-sized pies tend to get all the summer dessert glory, but when it comes to picnics and backyard barbecues, I actually favor single-serving hand pies.
Sure, it’s a little more work to make a batch of hand pies than to make one large one, but the little guys are easier to transport and easier to eat. They also are awfully versatile. Hand pies can be savory or sweet, and can take a variety of shapes; I’m partial to those shaped like half-moons. So as we head into the heart of peach season, I decided to share this recipe for half-moon-shaped hand pies filled with yummy peaches.
Peaches must be peeled before cooking Use a paring knife to score the bottom of each peach in a crisscross pattern, then blanch the peaches in boiling water until the skin starts to peel back (it’ll take about 30 seconds). After that, just plunge them into ice water and the skin should slip off easily. This method also works well with tomatoes.
Once they are peeled, it’s time to pre-season the peaches. Cut them into half-inch cubes, toss them with sugar and fresh lemon juice, then drain them. This step serves several purposes. The sugar not only sweetens the peaches, it also pulls out excess liquid, ensuring that the peaches won’t sog up the pastry during the baking process. The lemon juice points up the peach flavor even as it keeps the fruit from oxidizing and turning brown.
By the way, the resulting juice is so richly peachy that I suggest serving it over a scoop of ice cream!
A word of caution: Given how many times this recipe calls for the chilling of the dough and the pies, you may be tempted to skip these steps. Don’t do it. Chilling is key to making sure the butter in the pastry stays cold, which is key to the production of a light and flaky crust.
PEACH HAND PIES
3 small or 2 medium peaches (6 ounces total)
1½ tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
12 ounces pie dough (recipe below), cut into 8 equal pieces and refrigerated
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Using a peeler, peel the fresh peaches. From right of its center, cut off one side of the peach in one piece. Repeat. Cut into ½-inch chunks.
In a bowl toss the chunks with 1½ tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice. Let stand for 20 minutes, stir often. Strain and save the peaches and juices separately.
Work with 1 dough ball at a time (leave rest in fridge); roll out dough on a floured surface into a circle about 5 inches wide (1/8-inch thick). Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam on one half of the round, then add 2 tablespoons of peach chunks over the jam.
Brush the edge of the round with the beaten egg. Fold the other half of the round over the fillings to close, press edges together tightly. Fold the edge to make a ¼-inch rim, then crimp with a fork. Cut a small slit in the pastry, then refrigerate the hand pie. Repeat process for all pies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange pies on the sheet. Brush tops of pies with egg, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake on the oven’s middle shelf for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving. Add ice cream (if using) and a drizzle of the reserved peach juices.
1½ cups (6.4 ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add butter and, working quickly, blend the dough until the mixture resembles coarse meal with small lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and use a fork to stir until incorporated. Gently squeeze a handful of dough. It should hold together without crumbling. If it doesn’t, add ice water, ½ tablespoon at a time, stirring 2 or 3 times after each addition. Put dough on a surface and divide into 4 portions. Smear each portion once in a forward motion on the surface. Gather the dough and form it, rotating it on the surface into a disk. Wrap disks in plastic, chill until firm, at least 1 hour.