My Dad loves pies. I have vivid memories of going to Dupars in the Valley with my Dad when I was a little kid and ordering pie with him. He has hysterical stories that he tells about his interactions with the Dupar’s waitresses who I remember would wear uniforms with aprons. My dad is a charmer and I’m sure the old gals all loved him. I grew up thinking that my father’s favorite pies were banana cream pie and chocolate cream pie. Although it is true that he loves those pies, his deepest pie dream is Cherry pie. I did not learn this until two months ago. Since then I have been working to perfect my crust and pie making ability.
My Father is now 88-years old – not bad for a guy who has been smoking Marlborough cigarettes for 75 years but of course those smokes have taken a toll and he is now in bed most of the time on oxygen with his mind, warmth, charm, and humor sharp as ever. I wanted to make him a pie that he could handle easily and in a few bites, while sitting up in bed.
I think after 8-weeks and about 15 deliveries to his house I have hit the mark with these flaky crusted, sweet, tart, cherry handpies. He always asks for them and smiles when they arrive. He always tells me they’re delicious. So, for the true Cherry pie lover, here you go.
Cherry Hand Pies
Basic Pie Crust Recipe
(One basic pie crust recipe will make about 9 handpies – depending on the size of the pie – plus a few scraps to bake and eat).
I have worked long and hard to find a perfect pie crust recipe and to perfect the making of it. I think I finally have it.
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
11 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes
3 -4 Tbsp ice water
In a Cuisineart combine the flour and salt with a few short bursts. Put the butter into the Cuisineart and pulse until the butter is pea size Add the ice water, one Tablespoon at a time in a slow stream, while pulsing the machine. The amount of water will vary depending on the weather and who knows what else. Try to keep the water to around 3 Tbsp. Although the pie dough will still look crumbly and you’ll be tempted to add more water – don’t. If you open the top of the machine, you will see that you can pinch the dough together between your fingers. It’s done. Dump the dough onto a piece of parchment or saran wrap and scoop it together into a ball. Then press the ball to flatten into a circle. Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
Cherry Handpie Filling
One bag of frozen cherries
¼ cup of dried sour cherries
3 to 4 Tbsp of sugar
3 tsp tapioca or tapioca flour
Grated zest of one orange
Juice of ½ orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small saucepan combine the frozen cherries, the dried sour cherries, the orange zest and orange juice and cook for 10 minutes on medium low with the top on. In the meantime, combine the sugar and tapioca/tapioca flour Add the sugar/tapioca mixture to the cooked cherries and cook for another 10 minutes with the top off. The mixture should begin to thicken. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Put the mixture into the refrigerator until it is cool and beginning to thicken. Before the mixture is completely cooled, using a fork or hand blender, mash up some of the cherry mixture so that you have a mixture of mash and whole cherries.
Handpie Directions (Heat oven to 350°)
Pie crust (above)
Cherry Handpie Filling (above)
1 egg white beaten with a fork
¼ cup Demerera sugar (or white sugar)
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes until just softening. Remove the Cherry handpie filling from the refrigerator. Roll the dough to about 1/8” thick. In other words, very thin. Using a circular cookie cutter of about 4 ½” to 5” in diameter (your choice), cut circles of dough. Set the dough circles onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put a teaspoonful of the cherry mixture in the middle. Fold the circle in half so that you have a half moon. Press the edges together with your fingers and then using a fork, press the edges down firmly. Stick the baking sheet into the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes. Brush the tops of the handpies with the beaten eggwhite and sprinkle with the demerera sugar. Bake for 30 minutes until the tops are a deep golden brown. Take these handpies to my Father. He will be so pleased.