BASIC PIE CRUST RECIPES AND INSTRUCTIONS
Double Crust for Lattice/Lidded Pies
For the pastry:
1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup cold water
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
Prepare your pastry:
Cut the butter into ½” cubes. Freeze 6 tablespoons for 20 minutes or overnight, and chill the remaining stick in the refrigerator until ready to use. Stir the vinegar into the cold water and set aside.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine. Add the chilled butter and mix for 20-30 seconds until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the frozen butter and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
Add 6 tablespoons of the vinegar water and pulse 5 or 6 times. The dough should start to look crumbly, and you can test the dough by squeezing a small amount in the palm of your hand. If it easily holds together, it’s done; if not, add ½ tablespoon of the vinegar water and pulse. Repeat this process as needed until the dough holds together.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten each ball slightly and wrap separately in parchment paper or place in a covered dish with parchment between the two discs. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 20 minutes.
Begin by rolling out one of the discs of dough to a thin round a few inches larger in diameter than your pie tin. I use a 9" or 10" pie tin, and I roll my pastry out to about 14" around. Lay this sheet of dough in your pie tin and gently press it into the tin before trimming off excess dough around the outside. I leave about an inch hanging over the tin's edges all around to fold up and crimp after adding the lattice or lid.
At this point, you will follow the individual pie instructions for filling your pie.
When you've filled your pie, and you're ready to add the top, you can do so by either weaving lattice strips (made by slicing your second rolled outdisc into strips) or by covering the top of the pie with your second rolled out disc and using a sharp knife to cut vents in the dough.
Once you've added a lid or lattice top to your pie, pull up the inch or so of extra dough you left hanging over from the bottom and fold it over the edges of your pie top. You can then crimp them together with the tines of a fork or create a fluted edge by pinching around the diameter with your fingers.
Your pie is now ready to go into the freezer to prepare it for baking.
Single Pie Crust + Blind Baking
For the pastry:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup cold water
1 rounded cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
Prepare your pastry:
Cut the butter into ½” cubes. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Stir the vinegar into the cold water and set aside.
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine. Add the chilled butter and mix for 20-30 seconds until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar water and pulse 5 or 6 times. The dough should start to look crumbly, and you can test the dough by squeezing a small amount in the palm of your hand. If it easily holds together, it’s done; if not, add ½ tablespoon of the vinegar water and pulse. Repeat this process as needed until the dough holds together.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll the dough into the ball, flatten slightly and wrap in parchment paper or place in a covered dish. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough to a thin, round sheet a few inches larger than your pie tin (a 9” size works well here). Lay the dough in your pie tin and trim excess from the sides. Fold your edges over and crimp to make a finished look, and place the prepared crust in the freezer at least 20 minutes. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, once your dough is frozen, line the crust with parchment paper or a large coffee filter. Fill the parchment or filter with dried beans to retain the crust’s shape and prevent bubbling while baking. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. The outer edge should become dry and golden brown.
Remove the shell from the oven and remove the paper and beans. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork in several spots, and return to the oven for three minutes to allow the interior of the crust to brown lightly.
Your crust is now ready for filling!
Note: I’ve given food processor directions here for ease, but I frequently make my crust by hand as well. Just use a pastry cutter to incorporate your butter, mix the water in by hand, and take care not to overwork or knead the dough.
WEEKLY LETTERS + RECIPES
OCTOBER 1: HARVEST MOON + SWEET POTATO PIE
Welcome. Today is the very first day of a most special month in our yearly wheel. We woke up this morning to bright sun on our faces, all huddled together in bed under wool blankets. Dad and Henry on one side having come inside after midnight, leaving the tent they'd planned to sleep in and the marshmallow roasting sticks with charred ends and the last embers of the campfire in the backyard once the temperatures dropped below 40. The baby and I snuggled in beside them, both having slept in our sweaters with a hot water bottle tucked in the blankets. We're all hesitant to kick off the warm covers and start our day, laughing at our collective stubbornness the evening before regarding whether or not we really needed to start a fire. Maybe we didn't need to, but the wool hat on my head when I wake up makes me think maybe we should have.
These cold mornings that turn into perfect days are a friendly part of the rhythm of October; cold and then warm, bright and then grey, tipping as the month goes on toward just the cold and the grey. The smell of crunchy brown leaves on the ground connects me to every autumn I've known, the grand marshal of the homecoming parade for the October of my heart. Next comes the cider, the cider doughnuts, the hours and hours given over to winter's applesauce. Roadside pumpkins painting the landscape with spots of orange and yellow and the in between colors, shades of ochre and marigold and honey. There's the leaves still on the trees that I don't need to tell you about but if I were going to I'd say it's terrifically enlivening and resplendent to see mountains covered in sugar maples ablaze in the brightest colors we have the luck not to have to imagine.
October goes on with Halloween costumes in states of unfinished progress, candles at dinner time, asters on the table til they're gone. Acorns and black walnuts and leaves dipped in warm beeswax to adorn gifts in winter. Traditions given us by the season herself and others we give each other. And the best traditions of all: the ones that start with something growing or just-harvested or abundant, something we planted a seed for in spring or watched grow ripe over summer months in the sun, that are woven into our family stories by virtue of our making them into food to share with one another.
From this first week of October until Thanksgiving, we'll be making pie together. Each Sunday I'll send a recipe for the pie Henry and I will bake on the following Friday, and if you'd like you can join right in.
Sweet Potato Pie
One single crust, blind baked pie shell
For the filling:
½ cup organic granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Zest of ½ an orange
2 ½ cups sweet potato puree (directions follow)
1 egg yolk
1 cup local cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons dark maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey (or try bourbon if you have it)
To make sweet potato puree:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the skin of three large sweet potatoes all over with a fork, and roast on a baking sheet for about two hours or until they are soft. Allow to cool slightly, then cut the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until smooth. If you’d like, you can press the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining lumps.
Make your filling:
Combine the sugars, salt, and spices in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the zest to the sweet potato puree, and stir in the dry ingredients. Next, whisk in the eggs, yolk, and cream. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Last, whisk in the maple syrup and vanilla.
Pour your filling into the pie shell (you may have extra) and bake 45 minutes to one hour, until the pie appears set and the center is dry to the touch.
Cool to room temperature, then brush with the maple & honey glaze. Chill in the refrigerator overnight to allow the pie to set, and serve with freshly whipped cream.
OCTOBER 9: NEIGHBORS + PEAR RASPBERRY PIE
We said goodbye to good friends yesterday after breakfast as they headed out toward the rainy, northbound road home after a long, lovely weekend together. There was time for board games while it rained and walks through the woods when it didn’t. After a dragon egg hunt in the forest we filled the wagon, already toting boy-made stick swords and arrows and sometimes a certain little brother, with acorns from the big oak by the pond and took them home to smash with hammers and put into a big pot of water for dyeing linen silver grey for a young knight’s Halloween costume. We cooked together and shared soup recipes and worked on winter knits once the children were tucked in and our little house took on a quiet uncommonly heard when the sun is up. We shared pie together, enjoyed especially quickly and eagerly by the nearly-6 and just-7 year olds among us with big dollops of maple sweetened whipped cream on top. Though it took our friends nearly six hours to reach us, for three days too-short days we were neighbors.
Later Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves at our neighbor’s house just down the road, Henry pouring his own cream into his tea until it was more cream with a splash of tea than the other way around. After tea and leftover sweet potato pie, catching a goat who found her way out of the pasture she’d been asked to kindly keep to, and chats about firewood and pumpkin varieties and babies who’ve got the gumption to turn one later this month, we took to the raspberry bushes by the garden to fill a basket with the little red gems that hung on every brambly branch, smelling of fermented juice and buzzing with bumblebees. We aren’t used to berries in October, but it doesn’t seem like something worth complaining about either. River ate them indiscriminately and by the handful while Henry tipped the dried heads of early summer’s poppies into a paper envelope to take home along with a big bunch of dill seed for planting in next year’s garden and flavoring this week’s sourdough bread. We left with our basket full, grateful for neighbors with generous hearts and gardens.
Later this week we’ll stop by Jesse’s farm down the road where we buy our milk that comes from his Jersey cow Blackberry, and while we’re there we’ll pick pears from the trees his dad planted when they built their house forty years ago. The neighborliness we glean from Jesse isn’t confined to just the very creamiest milk we’ve any of us ever had, but to kale and pumpkins given in exchange for help with the corn harvest, to turnovers and loaves left to pay back the armfuls of bok choy and delicata squash and seed potatoes.
But my neighborhood doesn’t end where our long country road does. My neighborhood is baking a pie with friends from far away; it’s planting seeds from the garden next door in our own plot next year. My neighborhood is pears and jack-o-lantern pumpkins for the price of half a batch of cookies; it’s you all baking a pie in your kitchens in October, while we bake one in our own.
This week we’ll bake a pear and raspberry pie, a pie that can only be baked when the season is just right for the two to meet ever so briefly (or when you can find both at the market for a good price, which I bet right now maybe you can). It’s a beautiful combination, and perhaps it’ll be worth sharing a slice with your neighbors.
Pear Raspberry Pie
1 batch double crust pie pastry (see above)
5 cups pears, peeled and chopped into bite-sized (3/4" or so) pieces
2 cups raspberries
1 TB lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TB cornstarch
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
About a teaspoon of equal parts floor and sugar
1 TB cream and 1 TB milk
Coarse sugar for topping, optional
Place the pears, raspberries, and lemon juice in a bowl, do not mix.
Place the sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the fruit until most of the mixture is absorbed, taking care not to break up the raspberries.
Sprinkle the flour and sugar mixture into the bottom of the pie shell. Pile the pears and raspberries into the pie shell and smooth with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Finish the pie with a lattice top, and freeze for at least 20 minutes.
When you're ready to bake, heat oven to 400. Brush the lattice with the cream and milk pie wash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, rotating once after about a half hour. The crust should be deeply golden brown and the juices are bubbling thickly.
Cool at least 2 hours before slicing.
*I like to substitute 1/4 - 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for the all-purpose in this recipe. It goes so nicely with the bright berry flavor.
OCTOBER 16: ABUNDANCE + APPLE PIE
The boys came inside from gathering apples; an inelegant but rewarding set of motions that starts with shaking the tree, hard, and in the middle there’s trying not to get clunked on the head and stepping over bees drunk on fermented juice and picking up half-rotten ones by mistake, and to finish there's bending down every step and in any direction to fill your basket up. There are more graceful ways, sure, but this is how my guys do it. The apples are dropped in front of me on the kitchen counter and with the baby at his familiar perch just to the west of my cutting board, I’m set to the work of applesauce. It’s simple when you’re already taking up with inelegance: roughly chop them without peeling, plunk them into the pot, pour over a glug of fresh cider and a squeeze of half a lemon, and set them to cook. I don’t even wash them, seeing as the only interactions they’ve had with anything but their own leaves has been with rain and wind save for their brief moment in the grass post-shakedown. Sometimes I’ll add a cinnamon stick, and in the last batch I’ll sneak in a little maple. Repeat that every morning until you just couldn’t, and then close your eyes when you pass the apple tree so you don’t feel so bad for all that perfect fruit you’ve left un-gathered.
In three months when we’re feeling literally fruitless amidst snow drifts and begrudged trips to the wood pile, I’m going to wish I’d kept going. Canned just a few more quarts. Made that one last apple pie.
This week I’m making it my work not to let the end of preserving season become burdensome. To embrace the apples, pickle the beets, kimchi the radish. To embody gratitude in that work, to recognize that in preserving food and using what we have, I’m cultivating resilience in my food supply and in my self. To overcome complacency and replace it with action and responsibility. To appreciate the privilege of abundance. Because if I’m surrounded by anything here in this season, in this small cabin encircled with heavy-limbed apple trees, it is true abundance.
(with or without cheddar)
1 batch double crust pie pastry
8 cups apples, peeled if you'd like, cored, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca or corn starch
1-2 teaspoons of spice
You could go with just cinnamon, or cinnamon and ginger, a pinch of nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or cardamom. Another apple pie recipe I love uses chinese 5-spice and it's lovely! I'm planning to use a teaspoon of cinnamon and a little pinch of nutmeg and cloves.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
About a teaspoon equal parts flour and sugar
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
1 TB cream and 1 TB milk, whisked together
Place the apples in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and toss with a spatula or wooden spoon until the apples are coated.
Place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, starch, spices, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of apples and mix together to coat the apples. Allow the apples to macerate for at least 25 minutes.
Place a colander over a medium bowl and transfer the macerated apples to the colander, making sure to scrape down the bowl to catch any sauce sticking to the sides of the bowl. Let the apples drain for another 25 minutes or so.
Pour the drained juice into a small saucepan, scraping down the bowl again to get every last drop. Bring the apple juice mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring nearly constantly. Reduce heat and continue to simmer the juice until it thickens, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, chill the saucepan in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour and sugar mixture into the empty pie shell. Pour in the apples, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Make a well in the center of the apples and pour in the thickened apple juice. Gently smooth the apples over the center to make the filling even, then dot with the butter. Finish the pie with a lattice or cover with the rolled out sheet of pastry and cut vents into the top to allow steam to escape.
If you're trying the cheddar on top, sprinkle it over the top before freezing, then freeze for at least 20 minutes prior to baking.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pie from the freezer and brush with the cream and milk mixture. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, rotating about halfway through, until the crust is dark golden brown and the juices are bubbling thickly.
Cool at least two hours before slicing.
OCTOBER 23: A SONG FOR AUTUMN + GARDEN GREENS AND BEANS PIE
Song for Autumn
In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
Here are a few reasons I like this week's pie: you can make it all one day while you're in the kitchen making something else and put it in the freezer for a night you need it; if you bake it in the morning, you can serve it warm for lunch and have the leftovers for dinner; it utilizes two of my favorite autumn and winter staples - hardy greens like chard or kale - and dried beans. And best yet: it's still pie! All that flaky crust put to good use holding in a simple, hearty, and delicious filling.
Any creamy white bean will work here, and I'm partial to the Hutterite soup bean, a pretty little heirloom thing grown locally that we can buy in bulk at the farmer's market.
Garden Greens + Beans Pie
1 batch double crust pie pastry with the following modifications:
1. Instead of 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, I recommend 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat or rye flour, and 1/4 cup slightly crushed sunflower seeds.
2. Omit sugar
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups cooked white beans
1 bunch kale or swiss chard, chopped
Fresh rosemary or sage, if you have it
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 TB cream and 1 TB milk
Prepare your pie crust as usual with the specified modifications above, and place the discs in the refrigerator.
Make your filling:
In a large skillet, add the olive oil and allow it to heat up over medium low heat (whatever temperature you typically sauté), and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes to soften, then add your garlic and any fresh herbs you'd like to use. Cook for about a minute, then add the flour, stirring the onions and garlic around to coat.
Once coated, add your beans and cook until they are hot through and beginning to get just a little crispy on the outside. You may like to add a bit more oil at this stage if the beans are sticking.
Last, add the chopped greens and reduce heat to low. Fold in the greens until they are wilted and dispersed throughout the mixture.
Turn off the heat and allow the temperature to cool to about room temperature.
Roll out your first dough round, and add the filling. Top with lattice or a vented lid, and place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
Heat your oven to 400. Once you're ready to put In the pie, brush the top of your pie with the half cream/half milk mixture. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until the crust is golden brown.
Cool for at least 30 minutes, and it's delicious at room temperature too.
NOVEMBER 1: AN OPEN HEART + PUMPKIN PIE
A midweek transmission instead of our usual Monday letter, thanks to a power outage that left us not-unpleasantly lightless but reluctantly birthday pie-less until late last night.
There is old wisdom that says that the veil between our every day world and the cosmic world beyond us is thinner this time of year; that we can more easily access and experience our ancestors and a sense of magic as we get closer to Halloween. As each day of October has passed I've wondered if we more easily access our own memory at this time of year, too; if the way the cooler temperatures and orange vegetables and first fires make me feel like myself in a way I don't feel in exactly the same manner the other three-fourths of the year is really about sweaters and squash or if it isn't something a little more transcendent. Something that stirs in me to remind me to be grateful, to accept cycles of change, to keep my eyes open to each beautiful shift. Maybe, too, it's the small traditions. The way this time of year is steeped in The Things We Do in Fall, and renewing them year after year circles us back around to those past autumns and past selves.
We flew kites last week on a particularly gusty day, and running with the kite I suddenly felt heavy, a reminder of last year's kite flying day with a baby inside nearly ready to be born. This time he was running behind me instead, squealing with delight as his big brother whooped and hollered just the way he had last year when the kite narrowly missed flying into the apple tree and my mind was full of thoughts of what it might be like when we're a family a four.
On another windy afternoon, we were all four of us walking down the dirt road and with sudden strength the wind picked up and blew the leaves from the trees surrounding us into the air where they flew like snow around us. Everyone smiling, I was briefly a childhood self, experiencing the beauty and wonder of fast falling leaves, embracing those wistful connections to nature and the seasons I had felt amidst a young life of disconnection and hardship. It brought tears to my eyes not because I hold onto the sadness of those years, but because I can't acknowledge the dark of those times without immense mindfulness of the light I get to live in now.
Today the smell of something sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg baking mingles with the scent of soup simmering on the stove. It's a smell that I imagine might conjure up those Proustian moments for my own children someday, moments when the weather shifts and the leaves turn and they're reminded without effort of the warm kitchen in that little cabin and the way their mom always made pumpkin pie at the end of October and how she acted like a little girl when the leaves swirled through the sky on a very windy day. Or maybe when I'm sitting down for a slice of pumpkin pie in an October many years from now, I'll remember River's first birthday and how we all celebrated together before getting dressed up in our costumes for the Halloween parade.
We give our food power when we choose to eat seasonally, when we mark days or months with special meals, when we allow ourselves to connect with past and future by engaging in the rituals of making pie or soup or cider together. There's an opening of the heart-- an exercise in anticipation and letting go-- when we set upon baking that pumpkin pie, knowing before it's even out of the oven that we won't taste it again until next year, and by then we'll have a whole new collection of October moments to remember.
Pumpkin Pie, and Pie Cookies
1 single-crust, blind-baked pie shell
For the filling:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a teaspoon of a combination warm spices that includes cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg)
Heavy pinch of salt
1 cup cream
1/3 cup whole milk
2 cups pumpkin (roasted and pureed, or organic canned)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place your pie shell (in its tin) on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, sugar, flour, spices, and salt. Whisk together and break up any brown sugar clumps.
In a larger bowl, beat the eggs lightly to break up the yolks, then add the cream, milk, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to your pumpkin mixture, and mix thoroughly.
Pour your filling into your pie shell and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes until the filling is puffed and the center is set.
Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for two hours or up to overnight before slicing.
Pie cookies are sometimes just as sought after as the pie itself around here. They’re the best way to use up dough scraps, and they’re a great way to decorate a custard pie like pumpkin. I like to bake them along with the crust during the blind bake, and when the pie is cool they look just as golden as the crust. Make a jar of the pie cookie topping and keep it in your spice cupboard, and these could become an every-pie kind of thing.
To make the topping, combine 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and stir together. Store in an airtight jar.
To make cookies:
Scrap pie dough
Pie cookie topping
Milk, cream, or a combination for brushing the cookies
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the scrap dough to between 1/8 and ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut out shapes. Place the cookies on a baking sheet, and brush with milk or cream. Top with a pinch of the pie cookie topping. If you would prefer your cookies not to puff up in the oven, prick them with a fork as well (I like them puffy!)
Bake for between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the cookies.
NOVEMBER 9: LET'S MAKE HAND PIES
Have you made hand pies before? They're a real favorite around here. There a lots of ways to make them, from a simple fold-over of a dough circle to creating little sandwiches from any shape dough you'd like. Sometimes we use our heart cookie cutter, or pinch them into tri-corner hat sort of shapes to make turnovers. For these, I used my 3 1/2" quilting ruler to cut quick, even squares. If it feels intimidating to make a whole batch of individual pies in a day, consider breaking it up over two. This dough is best when left to rest in the refrigerator overnight, and the filling can be made the day before, too. This means all you've got to do the next day is roll them out and bake them, and try not to eat them all very, very quickly.
The flavor combination I'm sharing here is inspired by the fruit we've got in our pantry this time of year and the warming goodness of ginger, a welcome heat on these frosty November days. These aren't overly sweet at all, with no added sugar but for a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup and the sugar imparted from the crystallized ginger. I hope you'll love them, and share them too! #wepietogether
Apple, Pear, and Ginger Hand Pies
Makes 8 - 3 1/2" pies
For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into roughly 1” cubes
12 tablespoons butter, cut into roughly ½” cubes
Pinch of salt
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Toss the cubes of cream cheese and butter in the flour to coat, then turn the mixer on low until the butter is in lumps roughly the size of peas. Next, cover your mixer with a dish towel (to prevent flying flour!) and turn on to high. Mix for several seconds until the dough comes together.
Remove from the bowl, place on a lightly floured counter or board, and pat the dough into a circle. Refrigerate overnight ideally, or at least for a couple of hours.
For the filling:
1 large pear, sliced thin and into 1” pieces
1 large apple, sliced the same OR ½ cup homemade applesauce
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup crystallized ginger, chopped small
Place all of the ingredients, excluding the ginger, into a small saucepan. Heat over low to medium for a few minutes to soften the fruit, then bring it up to a medium heat and simmer until thickened. I used applesauce for my hand pies – because my method of making it is to simply cook apples with a bit of lemon until they’re saucy, it works perfectly in this application. If you use an apple, you will want to mash it slightly with your wooden spoon as it gets tender.
Once your mixture is thick and the fruit is soft, remove from the heat and stir in the crystallized ginger. Allow the mixture to cool to at least room temperature before filling your pies.
To make the pies:
Take your dough from the fridge and divide it into two pieces. Set one aside (or back in the fridge if your kitchen is very warm), and roll the first one out to a rough, thin rectangle. Use a rolling cutter and a ruler if you have one to cut the first sheet into 8 equal squares. Place the squares on your baking sheet.
Repeat for your second piece of dough, but do not lay them on the sheet.
Because this dough has more fat than the classic pie crust, it can soften and melt more quickly making it harder to work with. If it does get melty, just pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm it back up.
Place a heaping spoonful of your filling in the center of each of the squares on your baking sheet.
Lightly beat an egg white and brush the outside edges of each square.
Place the other dough squares on top of the ones with filling, and press down around the outside edges lightly with your fingers, and then crimp them together with a fork. Use a knife to create a couple of small vents in each pie. Do not discard the remaining egg white.
Place the sheet in the freezer and freeze for about an hour.
Heat your oven to 400. When it is ready, remove your pies from the freezer. Mix a splash of milk (water will do, too) into your egg white and beat together with a fork. Brush the mixture lightly on top of the pies before placing in the oven.
Bake about 20 minutes until golden. Cool at least 20 minutes before eating.