Hand pies are not a natural for me.
Pastry is hit or miss and while I love the idea of a peach, it’s just too easy to get a bum one (mealy, hard, squishy). Plus, for me, peaches require prep: I like them peeled, sliced and chilled. So, in general, I prefer nectarines.
But Trader Joe’s recently had 4 lb. boxes of beautiful peaches and I was going to an outdoor event…summer peach pie sounded so good. But a pie in a picnic setting is always a mess, so I thought, gee, hand pies are all the rage, how about that? (My only experience with “hand pies” was decades ago, the original MacDonald’s apple pie and the various sugar-glazed Hostess options. Gooey, gluey, yuck.)
I asked a baking friend if she’d made them – she hadn’t but reported a friend thought they were a lot of work for “essentially, a pop tart.” But still, the idea was so perfect, and I could picture little Martha-style parchment packets sealed with stickers…I decided to go for it.
I searched online for a recipe, selecting one from Bakerella (which she modified from Handheld Pies, by Rachel Wharton and Sarah Billingsley).
The deciding factor was that the pastry included butter and cream cheese.
I made a few small modifications:
- Used heavy cream instead of milk in the pastry (because that’s what I had on hand)
- Added a small pinch of cinnamon to pastry
- Added a tablespoon of brandy to the peaches
The peaches were not uniformly ripe (which makes for easier cutting), but they macerated to perfection sitting for an hour or so with the lemon juice, brandy and sugars.
The results were out of this world! Not too sweet and very peachy! The pastry was easy to work with – I made my pies bigger than the cute little crescents on the site, so only got 7 pies out of the recipe (and had a lot of leftover filling). Next time, I’ll double the pastry recipe since it’s easy to freeze any leftovers.
I’m already hankering for more of these. They were wonderful at the outing and perfect for breakfast the next morning.
Portable Peach Hand Pies
4 Tbs unsalted butter
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
- Cut butter and cream cheese into half inch cubes and freeze for 20 minutes.
- Pulse flour, sugar and salt briefly in food processor to combine.
- Add butter and cream cheese cubes from freezer and pulse until small clumps form.
- Add heavy cream and pulse again a few times until dough forms.
- Press dough together to see if it holds together. Add ice water by teaspoons and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed. (I needed 2 tsp. of ice water.)
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead pieces together and then shape into two 1-inch thick round disks. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for two hours or overnight.
3 cups diced, peeled peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs corn starch
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs brandy (optional)
- Stir all ingredients together and let sit until dough is ready.
- (If your peaches are very ripe you don’t need to prepare the peaches until just before the dough is chilled.)
- Remove dough from fridge, unwrap and roll out on a floured work surface to about about 1/8-inch thickness.
- Cut out pie 4.5x 5-inch shapes from dough and remove scraps. (You’ll end up with pies that are about 4.5×2.5 inches.)
- Put a spoonful or two of filling on one side of the shape, fold over left to right like a book.
- Press edges together on all three sides, then crimp edges with a fork.
- Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate prepared pies for half an hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Before placing in the oven, brush each pie top with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
- Remove and transfer to a baking rack to cool.
Delicious warm or at room temp. If enjoying the next day, warm in a 375-degree oven for 5-10 minutes.