Sunday, March 17, 2019

Cranberry Hand Pies

Sometimes contrast does come in delicious formats when it comes to food. One of the contrasts is sweet and tart. Outside of citrus fruits, cranberry offers quite a bit of the tart. Teamed with orange and some sugar, these little deliver the perfect contrast, just when you crave a little bit of fruit pie.

Due to the level of tartness, I feel that cranberries in a whole 1-1 1/2 inch deep pie would be a little too overwhelming. Making the smaller form of hand pies with cranberries lend themselves to a more balance of flavor. They are tasty on their own, but serving them warm with a scoop of ice cream makes them even better.

My posting and baking is waning down to just a few times a month. This change has made way for me to dabble in dinner entrees. It seems as if dinner has become repetitive types of meals, so it is time to start changing it up and trying new things. My cooking partner (husband) is looking forward to it.

The blogging posts may be slowing down but there are still so many things I have yet to bake. Trying new techniques and new flavor combinations is what makes baking fun, so my passion still remains. This recipe makes 15-16 hand pies.

Cranberry Hand Pies
adapted from Bon Appetit

3 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 or 3 sticks unsalted butter plus 3 tbs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Ingredients/Filling and topping
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbs fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp instant tapioca
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 lb (fresh or thawed frozen) cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 beaten egg
raw or sparkling sugar for sprinkling on top

For the pastry dough, start by cutting the butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Then place in freezer for about 10 minutes. While the butter is chilling, fill the bowl of a stand mixer with flour, sugar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, mix together on medium speed. Once the butter is ready, change the mixer attachment to the blade. Run the mixer on medium speed and start dropping in butter cubes, a little at a time. After all the butter is in the flour mixture, continue to beat until the consistency is more coarse, like sand. Keep mixing until the large lumps of butter are gone and just pea size and smaller remains.

Continue to mix and slowly stream in 1/2 cup of ice water. As you mix, the batter will form a lump a dough. At the dough stage, divide into 2 even pieces. Flatten each piece in a disc and completely cover with plastic. Place dough in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours.

During the two hours, create the filling. Fill a saucepan with sugar, orange zest, orange juice and tapioca. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the saucepan. Mix together with a wooden spoon until all is evenly dispersed. Then add the cranberries into the mixture, tossing to cover. Let sit for about 10 minutes so juices can build up. Then place over medium heat and let come to a simmer. The mixture will thicken as it simmers. The correct consistency should be achieved by simmering 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Dust a flat surface with flour. Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Once the chilling time is complete, take out one disc of dough. Unwrap and place on floured surface and roll out to a thickness of 1/16". Cut dough with biscuit or cookie cutter, making 16 circles.Then coat the outer edge of 8 of the circles with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle. Top the circles with the remaining rounds of dough. Take the tines of a fork and press down along the edge about 1/4 of an inch deep to seal the pies. To make a clean edge, use the cutter again to cut off any of the dough that is uneven.

Place pies on baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Brush the surface with beaten egg and then sprinkle sugar on top. Vent top of pies with a line or with an "x".  Take filled baking sheets and put in refrigerator to chill for 45 minutes. After chilling, place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden on the edges and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let rest on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to rack to completely cool. Repeat the rolling, forming, chilling and baking process for the pies with the 2nd disc of dough.

Tips and Notes:
1. The widest width of the pies I made were 4 inches and I ended up with 15 pies. The pies had 2 tablespoons of filling and I had a lot of dough left over. The filling ran out.

2. Even though the recipe states roll dough to 1/16 of an inch, I made mine a little thicker. The extra thin dough was too fragile and made it more difficult to form the pies.

3. The recipe can be made ahead in stages. The dough can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Let it soften at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to rolling out. The cranberry filling can be made 5 days ahead, just cover and chill. Lastly, pies can be formed and chilled 2 hours ahead of baking.
                                            ***LAST YEAR:Baked Apple Donuts**