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"We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." David Mamet

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 2: Cranberry Whole Wheat Hand Pies

There are too many things to love about hand pies. These little discs of deliciousness are super cute, portable, and have built-in portion control. Plus I learned on Wikipedia that 'hand pie' is an anagram for pinhead!

Last spring, I started rolling out hand pies to hold the fruits of the season. Rhubarb held the lead through the fall, but I think the cranberry is a strong contender. They carry the Thanksgiving theme, and they're not too sweet. You can serve up a plate of hand pies after dinner and everyone can feel virtuous about just having one or two. Plus they're easy to pack up for guests, though why would you want to when breakfast is just a few hours away?

Cranberry Whole Wheat Hand Pies

Adapted from Bon Appetit and Heed the Feed

This recipe has a not-too-sweet filling that's further tarted up with orange zest. It also uses whole wheat flour which gives the pies an earthy substance that somehow goes with Fall. You can try it, or just use white flour. The dough will be more compliant when you roll it out, and the crust will be flakier and more delicate. Either way, the instructions are the same. This recipe makes about 30 hand pies. You can keep the extra dough in the fridge for a few days or freeze it well-sealed for up to 6 months.

1 cup unbleached white flour                                                                                                                                      2  2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut in 1/2" cubes and frozen
ice cold water
Cranberry filling
1 pound fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract                                                                                                                                                 
1 large egg, beaten                                                                                                                                           
Cane sugar
Preheat oven to 425°Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
After cubing the butter, keep it in the freezer while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.
Dough: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your processor, fitted with a steel blade. Pulse once or twice to mix. Add the frozen butter cubes to the flour mixture and carefully toss -- it will fill a smaller processor entirely. Process until the mixture is like coarse meal. Again, this may require stopping the machine to redistribute the butter. Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, add the ice water, pulsing a few times after each addition until the mixture just comes together. The dough may be a little crumbly but it's ready if it adheres when you squeeze it.  Turn onto a floured surface and, gathering the dough with a dough scraper or spatula, knead a few times until smooth. Divide in half, shape into a smooth ball, sprinkle with flour, and flatten into a disc. Tightly wrap each half in plastic. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
Orange zest tarts up the already tart cranberry

Filling: combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice, cornstarch, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Let it stand about 10 minutes for the juices to accumulate. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken, 5-6 minutes. (Some cranberries will have burst.) Let cool completely.
Roll out the dough super thin, about the depth of 20 pages in a book, or 1/16 of an inch.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough until super thin, about 1/16 inch thick. That's like 20 pages in a paperback. Using a cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. I had a 3" cutter which made about 20 tarts (40 disks).
Put a heaping teaspoon of cranberry mixture smack in the center
Brush the edges of half of the circles with beaten egg. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center of each circle. Top each with a mate and using a fork, crimp 1/4-inch around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, egg, and filling. Divide pies between prepared sheets and make room in your freezer to chill for 45 minutes.
Take one sheet out and score dough, forming a small X in the center of each pie, or three parallel lines. Brush tops of pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops start to turn golden and juices bubble vesuviously out of the x's. Let stand for 5 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the pies.
A charming gift for your Thanksgiving host

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