These hand pies are culinary panacea - road trips are made better by their presence, breakfast sweeter, and the holidays that much simpler. Lately I’ve been playing around with these apple hand pies that ride the line of sweet and savory. I like sauteéd apples with thyme on my pork chops, apples and aged Gouda as a snack, and classic apple pie in the fall, so I combined them all in these bitty hand pies. Oh, and holidays are made simpler since we now freeze them up to a month in advance and just pop them in the oven (a few minutes longer than the recipe calls for) whenever sweets are in order.
divided, plus an additional 2 tablespoons for filling
plus an additional 1/4 teaspoon, for filling
cut into small pieces, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, for filling
(about 2 medium)
(about 3 ounces)
for wash, for garnish
For the crust: In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well combined. Using clean hands, add the cold unsalted butter and toss until just coated. Rub butter between thumb and forefingers to incorporate into flour mixture until butter is in lima bean-sized pieces and rub into flour mixture until mixture forms pea-size pieces (some big chunks should remain) and comes together in fist-sized clumps when squeezed, about 1 minute.
Drizzle in half ice water and rake through mixture with fingers until just moistened. Drizzle in remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time and comb through mixture with fingers to moisten. It will go from being a shaggy mess to coming together. Dough is moist enough when it is moistened through but is not wet when pressed. (Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough.)
While rotating the bowl with 1 hand, push dough between other palm and side of bowl to gather into a ball. Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, press it into a flat disk, then close in wrap. Place in coldest part of refrigerator (usually back bottom shelf) at least 30 minutes before rolling out and forming into a crust.
For the filling: Peel the apples and cut into a small (1/4-inch) dice. Combine the apples with the 2 tablespoons flour, shredded cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, thyme, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
To assemble the pies: Divide dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. On a clean, flat, lighlty floured surface, roll dough into a circle with an 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 4-inch biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Place rounds on a baking sheet and chill until ready to use. Chill remaining dough briefly (about 5 minutes) then reroll and cut dough as needed until you have 12 rounds. Repeat with remaining half of dough until you have another 12 rounds (24 total).
The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Store covered in refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.This set of biscuit cutters is perfect for a number of recipes.
Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in each dough round and divide softened butter evenly among rounds. Beat the egg whites with until smooth, then brush the perimeter of each round with a bit of the egg whites. Fold round over the filling so hand pie is in a half moon shape. Press to seal the edge then use a fork dipped in flour to crimp the edge. Repeat to make all the hand pies. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze at least 20 minutes to set up.
The pies can be filled up to 1 month ahead. Once frozen, place in an airtight container and store until ready to use.
When ready to bake the hand pies, heat oven to 400°F and arrange racks in upper and lower third. Meanwhile, combine remaining egg yolks and cream or milk in a small bowl and beat with a fork until smooth. Slice three small slits in the top of the pies as vents then brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar.
Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until hand pies are crisp, set, and tops and bottoms of pies are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly before serving.
Photo by Aida Mollenkamp // Food Styling by Lillian Kang