The smell of freshly baked pies possesses powers to bring comfort that is only rivalled by the experience of eating those same pies. This recipe is a slight departure from the classic round pie though still requiring the same attention to producing butter flecked dough and a balanced filling. These pies are shaped into perfectly sized individual rounds, which can be picked up and snacked on easily or my personal favourite: split open while still warm, served with a few generous scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and ravenously consumed. If you’ve made pies before then, you know that it all starts with the dough. Keep your fat chilled, even frozen which is how I like to do it and your movements quick to maintain the chilled butter. Whether sweet or savoury, the beauty of pies is that they can be filled with just about anything. For sweet pies, stick to fruits containing pectin, a starch that naturally occurs in some fruits, helping to keep the filling nice and thick when cooked. Avoid water-logged fruits like melons and citrus. Orchard fruits such as apples, pears and stone fruit such as plums and peaches and fresh berries are always a great choice. The other beauty of this recipe is that you can form the pies, freeze them and then bake them from frozen whenever your heart desires a fresh-baked treat. Master this technique here and get ready for all-season pie-making!
Strawberry Hand Pies With Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 7 Steps
To prepare the dough, in a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. Place flour mixture in a food processor and pulse with the diced and chilled butter until the butter pieces are about the size of dice. Continue to pulse and add in 1-2 tablespoons of ice water at a time until the dough resembles a crumbly mixture and sticks together when pressed lightly (check mixture after every tablespoon of water is added to ensure dough does not get too wet, you may need a few tablespoons more or less depending on the climate of your kitchen and the time of year). The mixture should still have very visible flecks of butter in it.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and use hands to bring together, split into 2 even pieces and shape each into even 1-inch thick disks. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To prepare the filling, in a medium pot, mix the diced strawberries, icing sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract. Cook on medium heat until strawberries are softened but not mushy, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add in the lemon zest and a tablespoon of the fresh lemon juice. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
To roll the dough, remove the chilled dough from the fridge and use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough until it is about 12-inches in diameter. Using a 3-3 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut rounds and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and return to the fridge to keep chilled. Bring the scraps of each dough together and form a disk to reroll and cut circles out as well. In total you should have between 16-20 rounds depending on the size of the cutter you used.
To fill the pies, lay all of the bases approximately 3-inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, fill each with a mound of filling, about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons in each. Make 2-4 small slits in the center of the pie dough tops to allow for steam ventilation when baking, place these tops over the filled bases and use fingers to press edges together. Crimp the edges with a fork or fingers.
Brush each pie with the whisked egg wash, top with approximately 1/2 teaspoon of turbinado sugar and bake on the middle rack of a 375°F oven for 30-35 minutes until dough is golden brown and filling has begun to bubble outwards.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes, serve while still warm with vanilla bean ice cream.