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Entries in Pies & Crumbles (12)


Peach Hand Pies

Driving to meet a friend for a run yesterday, I heard Kim Boyce talk about her hand pies on NPR.  I was already salivating the first time I heard the story, but the same story repeated when I got back in the car after my run and then I knew I needed to make them.

Hand pies are quite an invention.  You get to eat pie, but you don't need a plate or fork and you can even take them to go.  I've made a Cherry Hand Pie before using puff pastry, and I love Ali's Apple Hand Pies with Cheddar Crust, but in the peak of summer peaches seem like the only option.

This recipe calls for making your own puff pastry.  The end result is a flaky, buttery crust that is absolutely worth the work and time involved (the actual work is limited, but you have to let the dough chill a few times).  If you are short on time, you can certainly make the filling and use store bought puff pastry, but this crust is worth making from scratch - just note that you need to start a day ahead of when you want to serve the pies. 

When it comes to the filling, what I love about this recipe is the addition of jam to the filling mixture.  The jam adds flavor and thickens the filling.  And speaking of filling, every time I make hand pies, I attempt to stuff as much filling as possible into the pie, which always backfires.  This time I exercised restraint and I'd advise you to as well... there will still be plenty of fruit inside and your pies will actually stay sealed!

Peach Hand Pies
Adapted from Kim Boyce at Bakeshop via NPR
Yield = 12 hand pies

Pie Dough
About 5 cups (600 grams) all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (60 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (10 grams) kosher salt
500 grams (about 1 pound - 4 sticks)) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups ice-cold water

2 pounds ripe peaches (approximately 6) (I had about 2 cups of filling leftover, too)
1/2 cup peach or apricot jam
2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, whisked well

To make the dough, place dry ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor. Add butter and mix or pulse until broken down to sizes varying from peas to almonds to walnuts. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add the smaller amount of water recommended. Toss together and squeeze the dough to determine if more water is needed. The dough should just hold together, with shaggy dry areas as well as areas that are moister. If the dough is too dry, add the remaining water and toss. Transfer dough to a shallow container or wrap into a rough square in plastic wrap.  Chill overnight.

After the dough has chilled, unwrap it onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a square, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 8 1/2 x 14 inches. The dough will crumble and be rough around the edges, but don't add more flour or water — it will come together during rolling.

For the first "turn," fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. The seam should be on the left side. Chill 30 minutes.

For the second turn, take the dough out, this time with the seam at the bottom. Again roll the dough into an 8 1/2 x 14 inch rectangle and repeat the previous step. Chill 30 minutes.

For the third turn, repeat the previous step, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

After the dough has chilled for the final time, roll it to a thickness of approximately 1/8 inch. Cut into 7-inch circles (if you don't have a cutter, you can draw a knife around the edge of a plate).  Take any scraps and knead them together and chill, covered, before re-rolling. Repeat until all of the dough is cut into circles. Keep dough circles cold while you prepare the filling.  Puff pastry warms very quickly and turns into a buttery mess, so do be sure to keep it cold.

To make the filling and finish the pies, cut the peaches in half and discard the pits, slice them into wedges (I sliced mine into eights), and then slice the wedges in half.  Place peaches in a large bowl and add the jam and sugar.  Stir lightly to coat - the fruit should glisten with a light coating of jam.

Take your prepared pastry circles and brush with the beaten egg. Fill the circles with the filling (approximately 3-4 tablespoons of peach filling), then fold into a half-moon shape and press a half-inch from the edge to seal (Boyce suggests not crimping the very edges themselves, to avoid compressing the layers).  My mom got me one of these "pocket pie presses" - it isn't necessary, but it does help to seal the edges and to prevent me from over-stuffing the pie with fruit.

Place on a pan in a single layer, brush with the egg and sprinkle with cinnamon. Freeze for a minimum of one hour.

While the tarts are freezing, preheat the oven to 375°F.  When the hand pies are frozen, line a few baking sheets with parchment and place the hand pies on the sheet (with ample space between them).

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, rotating the pans halfway through. The tarts are ready when the crusts are dark golden-brown and blistering, the fruit is bubbling and perhaps some juice has run from the hand pies and caramelized on the parchment paper.

(Boyce stresses that color equals flavor. And with such a high crust-to-filling ratio, she says, you don't want it doughy — so try to let the pies get a bit darker than you might be inclined). Remove pies from the oven, and immediately transfer the hand pies to a cooling rack, before the caramelized juices cement them down.

Serve the hand pies warm from the oven or later that same day. The unbaked hand pies will keep, well wrapped and frozen, for up to one month (I only baked 4 of mine today).


French Apple Tart

Election day!  As someone who lives in a swing state, today I am thankful for the fact that the campaigning is over.  We have had no fewer than four people at our door each evening to ask us if we have voted, for whom we voted, and whether someone named Charles who previously lived here has voted (I have no idea).  I admire their dedication and passion but wow -- full court press!  I miss the days of voting in Massachusetts where presidential candidates barely bothered to advertise.  It also reminds me of when I worked for a Senator and a Congresswoman in college.  I'm pretty sure I was insufferable.  

Instead of worrying about politics over the past few weeks, we prepared for Halloween and attempted to "manage" the pesky squirrels who ate not one but three of my pumpkins.  Poor Forest has been tortured by their piggish ways (see below).  I am convinced this is the same squirrel who ate half of my peaches earlier this summer (he is the plumpest of all his friends).  Honestly.

We also had our first snow!  I met J for an early morning run and it was so fun to see our house covered in snow for the first time (and to have the temperature rebound to 68 degrees later that week).

Back to dessert.  You know you've written a great blog post when it inspires people to run to their kitchens and get cooking!  Last month, a post about a French Apple Tart from Alexandra's Kitchen inspired me.

I'd seen the tart in Saveur, but was thrilled to try Ali's rendition, which included an additional layer of frangipane (a delicious blend of almonds, butter, and sugar).  The added frangipane elevates this tart... and if you can make the tart look beautiful, you've got yourself the perfect dinner party dessert offering.  Me?  I had a bit of trouble with perfecting the "rose" design that is supposed to result, but I thought it was lovely all the same.

 Alexandra's Kitchen's French Apple Tart

First, be sure to watch the Saveur slideshow for step-by-step instructions on making the rose design.  Don't be discouraged if it isn't perfect - it will still taste great.  Do you see those funky petals in the middle of mine?  Eek.

Second, follow Ali's recipe.  If you have the ingredients, make the frangipane - I think it takes this tart from good to great and it comes together in seconds.

Third enjoy!


Apple Cranberry Crumble

Ironman training seriously infringed upon my time at the farmer's market this summer.  The last time I went to the Boulder Farmer's Market, it was at the end of a six-hour bike ride.  My motivation through the last hour was that the market closes at 2 PM, so the faster I rode, the more time I'd have to peruse.  Hey, everyone is motivated in a different way!

We made it to the market that day, but with only 30 minutes to look around... and I was seriously distracted by wanting to eat everything in sight.  Thankfully, the Boulder Farmer's Market runs through the 3rd Saturday in November.  Last Saturday, I leisurely strolled through the market, scoped out the radishes, sunchokes, apples, and squash, and sampled some local goodies.  We've already had snowfall on the Front Range, but the farms are still going strong.   

Afterward, we went mountain biking, something we hadn't done at all this summer but have been doing fairly regularly the last few weeks.  Fall might just be my new favorite season.

I'm guessing that, regardless of where you live, there is an abundance of apples in your area.  I sampled about five varieties on Saturday before settling on Jonagolds.  We've been in between stone fruit and apple season here and I haven't made much dessert in the last month.  I found myself day dreaming of baked apples and cinnamon and wondered if I could meld my favorite dessert (Plum Crumble) into one containing apples?  It turns out that the crumble topping is just as delicious and crunchy and buttery with apples underneath as it is with plums.

What I love most about this crumble is that when you pour melted butter over the topping, it creates a crisp outer shell around the delicious fruit filling.  The apple and cranberry combination held together much better than the plum crumble and it was the perfect ending to a crisp fall weekend.

Apple Cranberry Crumble
Adapted from a Plum Crumble in the NY Times 
Total time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings 

Note - I've been asked for an apple pie recipe a few times.  I'll confess that I never follow a recipe for apple pie filling. I slice up a few apples and toss them with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of sugar and either flour or cornstarch.  So, while I measured the ingredients below, use your own judgment when it comes to the spices - add more cinnamon or nutmeg or sugar or even more cranberries!  All spice would also be a nice addition.  

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
7-8 medium apples, cored and sliced (I used Jonagold because they tasted the best at the farmer's market, but Jonathan, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady are all good choices) (approximately 9 heaping cups when sliced)
1 cup fresh cranberries (these add a bit of color and a little bit of flavor - feel free to omit if you don't have them or to add more if you want a stronger cranberry flavor)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 well beaten egg
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.

2. Thoroughly mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to apples and mix well. Add cranberries and place mixture in ungreased, deep 9-inch pie plate.  Be sure to scrape any of the sugar combination left in the bowl onto the apples.

3. Combine remaining sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix well.  Stir in egg.  Then, using hands or a metal whisk, mix thoroughly to produce little particles (pictured above if you'd like a visual).  Sprinkle over apples.

4. Slowly drizzle butter evenly over crumb mixture.  The butter has a tendency to roll down the topping and over the rim of the pie dish, so do this step carefully.  Bake the crumble on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 to 35 minutes, covering with tin foil if the top is browning too quickly (the baking sheet is for the butter that may bubble over the rim of your pie dish).  The crumble is done when top is browned and apples yield easily when pricked with a fork or knife.  Remove from oven and cool.

5. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to two days.  If reheating, bring to room temperature then warm at 300 degrees.  Enjoy with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Palisades Peach Pie

I know my recent cooking posts have all been about peaches (and I promise this will be the last).  First it was our own peaches, which we enjoyed grilled with ricotta, sliced in our morning cereal or yogurt, and in a Raspberry Peach buckle

Now it is the massive box of peaches I purchased at a roadside stand on my way home from Waterton Canyon last weekend.  I'll blame the long trail run and dehydration for my desire to purchase pounds and pounds of the fruit.  I ate three peaches before I even got home. 

Palisades is a town nestled along the Colorado River on the western slope of Colorado that is known for its peaches.  Random aside - we drove all the way to Palisades for a soccer game in high school and I swear their team name was the Peaches... the school website says they are the Bulldogs, but maybe they realized a few years ago that a peach is not very intimidating?!  Anyway - the peaches from the western slope are famous throughout the state (there is even a Peach Festival that I hope to attend next summer) and I look forward to their arrival at the farmer's market each year.

It seemed to me that the obvious peach dessert I had yet to make was a pie.  Because peaches are easily overwhelmed by other flavors, I stuck to using only peaches.  I've made a Peach Blueberry Crumble that was absolutely delicious - but it might as well have been a Blueberry Crumble.  The same was true of the Raspberry Peach Buckle.  It was awesome and we gobbled it up, but the raspberries dominated the peaches.  These peaches are fragrant and juicy and taste of summer... they don't need to be masked by anything else!

Palisades Peach Pie
Crust Recipe from Cook's Illustrated 
Filling adapted from the Farmer's Market Desserts Cookbook 

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Filling Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe but not squishy peaches (about 12 medium peaches), halved, pitted and sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (or quick-cooking tapioca if you prefer)

Make the crust:
1.  Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).  Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.  Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.  Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2.  Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.  With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.  Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.  Let dough soften at room temperature prior to rolling.

Make the filling:
1.  Remove the disks of dough from the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the oven rack in the middle.

2. To make the filling, put about half of the peach slices into a heavy saucepan and the other half in a large bowl.  Grate 1/2 teaspoon zest from the lemon and add to the peaches in the pan, along with the granulated sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Place the pan over medium heat and stir gently until the sugar, salt, and cornstarch are completely dissolved and the peaches begin to give off a little juice, about 2 minutes.  When the juices just begin to bubble and thicken, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to the bowl holding the remaining peach slices.  Halves the lemon, squeeze 2 teaspoons juice from it, and add to the peaches.  Toss to coat evenly.  Set aside to cool while you roll out the pastry.

3.  Roll out one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle.  Flip the dough into a pie dish, fitting it gently into the pan without stretching or pressing the dough.  Trim the edges to leave a 1/2 inch overhang.  Refrigerate while you roll out the top crust.

4.  Roll the remaining dish into a 10-inch circle.  Distribute the peaches evenly on the bottom crust.  Cover the peaches with the top crust as you see fit - crimp the edges, use cut-out shapes (pictured in this post), or make a lattice crust.  If you leave the crust as a solid sheet of dough, be sure to take a paring knife and cut a few decorative vents near the center of the top crust.  If you'd like, brush the top crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

5.  Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet (very important - mine bubbled over considerably) and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the crust is a rich, golden brown, about 50 additional minutes.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least an hour prior to serving (if you can wait!).

6.  Refrigerate leftover pie, tightly covered, and reheat the pie at 350 degrees.  


Summer Peach Crostata

Moving is exhausting.  Of course you all have moved and don't need me to remind you of this, but since that thought drifts through my head at least once a day (more like one hundred times per day), I needed to put it in writing.

I adore our new house.  I love that it is ours.   Unfortunately, this breeds a certain desire for perfection in organizing and getting settled that is just not immediately attainable.  My clothes are still in garment boxes and we have four potential living room rugs lurking about.  Every day, Rob and I return from work and our post-work activities and spend 3-4 hours working on a project at home.  Let's just say that most "cooking" in the new house actually refers to the "making" of frozen pizza.  

However, I have finally put away everything in our kitchen and rewarded myself with a trip to the farmer's market.  The stone fruit was out in full force... apricots, plums, and ripe Palisades peaches.  I couldn't resist.

It felt great to be back in the kitchen.  That probably sounds silly, but cooking is therapeutic for me and preparing a full meal here for the first time makes it feel more like home.  And whatever chaos is still ongoing elsewhere in the house, there is a home-cooked meal on the patio to be enjoyed with a few minutes of peace and quiet and conversations that don't involve drills and shelving or end with one of us saying "I'll be right back from Home Depot."

Summer Peach Crostata
Adapted from Food & Wine 
Servings = 6 slices 

This could also be called "Simple Peach Crostata" for the ease with which you can make the crust, slice the fruit, and have a gorgeous dessert with very little work.  Feel free to use whatever fruit you have available for the filling.  I've already made it with plums and apricots, both of which were tasty although the peach was the clear favorite.  I got the ultimate compliment from Rob on this dessert - I could see this served in a bakery in San Francisco or Paris!  And today when I cut a slice for his lunch, he asked "Is that all I get?"  Thankfully, I doubled the recipe so that I'd have dough for a second crostata readily available (you can store the dough for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze it).  

If you use a tarter fruit to make this (e.g., apricots or tart plums), be sure to increase the sugar.  My apricot version was a bit too tart, which was a huge disappointment. 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound firm-but-ripe peaches, pitted and cut into eighths (substitute 1 pound of other stone fruit but don't forget to adjust the sugar in the filling accordingly) (approximately 4 peaches)
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water

1.  In a food processor, add the 1 1/4 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and pulse until the dough just barely comes together. Gather the dough and pat it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position an oven rack in the lower third. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the disk of dough to a 12-inch round; transfer to the baking sheet. Chill the dough until firm, 15 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cornstarch and cinnamon. Add the peaches and toss well. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 15 minutes.

4.  Arrange the fruit in the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all around. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the peaches. Brush the rim with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

5.  Bake the peach crostata for about 50 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender and bubbling.  Check your crostata after 30 minutes - if it is browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil. Let the crostata cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.