Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Handheld Peach Pies

Ahh, fall is in full… well, change. The temperatures are swinging from warm to downright chilly, it’s getting dark earlier and the leaves are decorating my walk to class with vibrant reds and oranges. One of my favorite fall traditions is college football and tailgating, which has been going strong for several weeks now. If you’ve never had the good fortune of tailgating at a Big 10 school, you’re missing out! The entire west side of Iowa City pretty much shuts down, wears ridiculous black and gold clothes that often border on costume-esque, and anyone walking around who has the good sense to yell “Go Hawks!” is greeted with beer and food from complete strangers at tailgates in the near vicinity.

Tailgating also provides a good reason to get creative with recipes for people who want to move beyond the typical hot dogs, chips and beer. I’ve been looking at this recipe for some time now and was just waiting for peaches to come into season. Luckily for me, peaches hit their prime right about the start of tailgate season, so I was able to put these together for the state consuming Iowa-Iowa State rivalry game.

I will start by saying that these mini-pies are very delicious and look impressive, which gives the baker some bragging rights and lots of admiration from the inebriated friends trying them. I’m going to follow that up, however, with the reality of this recipe – it’s a huge pain in the a$*! I'm also going to throw in a quick apology for the awkward formatting on this post. After fighting it for two weeks, I decided putting the post up was more important than continuing to fight with invisible formatting gnomes that are messing things up!

From start to finish, this recipe takes between 5-6 hours to complete. There are many small steps that are followed with 1-2 hours of freezing/chilling time. With all the freezing time, it is possible to get things done in-between, but it’s still a long process and, honestly, I’m not entirely sold on being worth it. Unless handheld pie is necessary, I far prefer this recipe in normal pie form. This filling is far and away my favorite for peaches but I think it’s better in a pie pan with this crust, and the subsequent utensil requirement. I found this crust to be very sticky and difficult to work with, which makes sense for the shaping it goes through, but still frustrating. 

Frustrations and time commitment aside, these little treats really were delicious and very well received, so I would still recommend it if you're looking for a handheld dessert option. While the crust is sticky, it worked perfectly for the folding and tasted light and delicious after the baking. As with every other recipe I've tried from the SmittenKitchen blog, this is in fact fool-proof. I ended up with enough peach filling left over to make a pie pan-sized peach crisp, so I've changed the amount of peaches the recipe calls for. I also upped the recommended amount of bourbon, since the original 1 tsp wasn't enough to leave even a trace of flavor.

Bourbon-Peach Handheld Pies
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 pounds of peaches
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tbs bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Coarse sanding sugar, for decoration

1. To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Place the butter in another bowl and put both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. 

2. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well cut the mixture, using a pastry cutter, until it looks like coarse granules. 
3. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water. Add half of this mixture to the well. 
4. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. 
5. Pat the lumps into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
*If preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored at this point for up to one month in the freezer. 

6. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. 
7. Using a 4" round cutter, cut circles out of the rolled dough. 
*You can use a biscuit cutter, large glass, fried-egg mold or any other circular device of your choosing.
8. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. 
9. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough.

10. While the dough is chilling in the fridge, make the filling. Peel and chop the peaches into small bits (about 1/2" cubes), much smaller than you’d use for a regular-sized pie. 
11. Mix them with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add the bourbon and vanilla, if you wish.
12. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. 
13. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons filling (use a smaller amount if your cutter was 4") onto one half of each circle of dough.

14. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough and fold it in half, so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a pseudo-football.

15. Seal the mini-pie and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough.

16. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

17. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

18. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake.
19. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, about 20 minutes.
20. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.
*In the very unlikely event that you have any leftovers to store, they store well in a sealed container with parchment paper between the layers (otherwise they can stick together).


  1. These things look really yummy! I'll bet they tasted great. I am thinking some vanilla ice cream would be great with them too. But then I like that with all my desserts ;-)

  2. These look absolutely amazing! However, you and I both know that I don't really have the patience for sticky dough or hours of waiting. Maybe your next recipe and I will be better suited for one another. Until then, I hear hy-vee makes some pretty delish little pastries :)