There’s something magical about picking berries on a summer day with your children. Our first outing was a little less productive…
… but nine years later we’re like a well-oiled machine. Mike and I aren’t the only ones with a competitive streak. This year the 8-year-old was determined to outpick her older brother. Which she did.
The next problem, of course, is what to do with all of those berries. We decided on pie, blueberry being my favorite type. I had some leftover pie dough in the freezer, though not enough to make a full pie. I had a kid who was eager to help, and figured I’d lose some of that momentum stopping to make another batch of dough. So we went with hand pies. They are a little more work than full size, but the finished product is quite cute and would be great for a party. And isn’t everything more fun when eaten by hand? The following recipe makes 10-12 mini pies, and should also work if made into a 9″ pie.
For the dough (recipe based on a Julia Child recipe, hat tip to Metro Market Catering for introducing it to me):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup cold water
Sift together flour, sugar and salt.
Cube cold butter.
Using a food processor (ideally), stand mixer, or by hand, “cut” butter into dry ingredients. The cut-in butter method is the same technique you would use to make any short dough: pie dough, biscuits, scones, etc. The idea is to incorporate the butter into the flour with as little mixing as possible. Overmixing the dough, even at this stage, works the protein in the gluten, making it more elastic and creating a tougher, more chewy final product. If you are using a food processor, pulse until the butter pieces are the size of dry lentils. If you are using a stand mixer, mix on the lowest speed until butter pieces are the size of dry lentils. If you are mixing by hand, rub the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas (I leave the butter a little bigger in this case since it is warmer from your hands).
Add cold water and mix just to incorporate the water throughout the mixture. The dough will still be crumbly. At this point, turn the mixture onto a cutting board or counter. Using the palm of your hand, smash handful-sized portions of the mixture into the cutting board to turn the crumbs into a dough.
Gather dough into a disk and chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax, and prevents the dough from shrinking as you roll it out.
For the blueberries (recipe taken from Allrecipes, find the original here):
4 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon, and toss together with blueberries.
At this point you can assemble a 9″ pie, or use a standard muffin pan to make minis.
For the hand pies (this recipe makes 10-12 mini pies):
Roll the dough to 1/8″ (or less) thickness. This is thinner than you would roll the crust for a regular pie, because you want a good crust-to-filling ratio. Since muffin cups vary in size and depth, you want to find a circular cutter (or template) that is 1-2″ larger than the diameter of the muffin cup. Spray muffin cups with nonstick coating. Cut rounds out of the dough, then press them into the muffin cup, leaving a bit extra over the edges.
Fill cups with blueberry mixture.
Then roll and cut strips of dough to make the lattice top. Wet the edges of overhang with a little water, which will make the lattice stick, then arrange the lattice strips to your liking. This is a great job for a kid, if you can overcome your OCD enough to let it happen (I can only do this some of the time). Press them into the bottom dough to seal, and trim around the edges. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax again, to keep it from shrinking as it bakes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake in a 425 degree oven until crust is golden. Cool until they’re easy to handle, then unmold by carefully twisting to loosen, or running a knife along the edge.