Peach Hand Pies

Peach Hand PiesEasy As Pie
This Sunday I will be hosting a half dozen nine and ten-year-olds for a baking workshop that I donated to our school fundraising auction, and I am actually looking forward to it.

One of my missions in life is to get kids cooking, and being creative in the kitchen. The good news is that these kids want to learn to make their own treats, so I am hoping for minimal batter on the ceiling. That being said, I’m hedging my bets…which means we’re going to make it easy this time around. There will be nothing involving hot sugar or hot oil. Just the thought turns my hair white!

The kids will make use of the gorgeous, seasonal fruit—we will make some mini fruit tarts and a lemon cake, as well as Peach Hand Pies (‘cause nothing is better than pie that travels). Of course, no baking class would be complete without chocolate, so we will be doing something with chocolate, though I haven’t found the perfect option yet…decisions, decisions. All of this in only four hours? No problem.

Although the fresh peaches that are available are just starting to get good, I am going to use frozen for the Peach Hand Pies to make life easier. Peeling and slicing peaches will take too long. The good thing is we just got some beautiful frozen peaches in from Oregon that will do the trick nicely.

Peach Hand Pies
Makes 6 6-inch circular pies
(Or 12 half-circles)

For the Crust
2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
10 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling
2 1/2 pounds peach wedges (When using frozen, try Willamette Fruit Company)
3/4 cup brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons quick Tapioca
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Crust
Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Cut the butter into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.

Add 4 tablespoons of water, and toss to combine. Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.

Divide the dough in half, and gather each half into a rough disk. Smooth the disks’ edges by running them along a floured surface like a wheel. It’s OK if they have a few cracks in the surface. Wrap them in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes, or up to overnight. (At this point, you can also tightly wrap aluminum foil over the plastic, and freeze for up to 2 months.)

When you’re ready to make pie, remove the crust from the refrigerator (or freezer), leaving it wrapped. Allow it to warm a bit, until it’s softened enough to roll, but still feels cold to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

Roll the dough 3/8″ thick on a floured surface. Using a mini pie mold, 6″ cutter, or circle template, cut out 12 circles, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

For the Filling
Combine  the peach wedges, light brown sugar, lemon juice, tapioca, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Assemble the Peach Hand Pies
Place 1/3 cup of filling in the center of each of 6 pastry circles. (Or, if you are making smaller pies, place a few spoonfuls of filling to the side of center, leaving enough space on the edges for sealing.)

Dot the filling with small pieces of butter. Dampen the dough around the filling with the egg wash, and top with an unfilled pastry circle. (Or, for smaller pies, fold the circle in half to make edges meet.) Seal by pinching the edges with your fingers or a fork.

Brush the top of the pies with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Place the pocket pies on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the pies from the oven, and serve warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

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