Baking is a science for sure, it’s so different then cooking. While many can claim to cook, be as creative as we like and transform this into that, I find baking almost a truly alchemist undertaking. It is an art form based on exact measurements. Ingredients need to be precise or this won’t rise, that won’t crisp, this will harden. I find it a labor of love, especially when it comes to pastry.
Lovely, buttery, flakey pastry is the result of not overworking that dough, keeping the butter cold when working it in so it stays a little chunky (I like to freeze cubes of butter and then put them through my cheese grater for this) and finish with a nice egg wash for that crispy, glazed look. Wether the pastry is for a savory dinner like my Argentinean Empanadas Mendocinas or a sweet dessert, the work is worth the effort.
For this recipe I had some amazing Honey Crisp Apples on hand as well as cranberries from holiday cooking and with the addition of fresh ginger I made a sweet and tart compote filling. The inspiration for these Cranberry, Apple, Ginger Hand Pies are adapted from a recipe I read in Bon Appetit by Cynthia Wong. This recipe makes between 16-20 hand pies and I used a 3-inch crimped biscuit ring.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cranberry, Apple, Ginger Hand Pies
- 3 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes, frozen
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
- 1 large egg beaten
- Raw sugar
- 3 cups cranberries
- 1 large Honey Crisp Apple diced
- 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine.
- Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With motor running, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup ice cold water through feed tube. Pulse until dough just begins to come together.
- Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball; flatten into disks.
- Wrap each disk tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
- Let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften slightly before rolling out, depends upon how thick your disk is when refrigerated.
- Combine cranberries, apples, ginger, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to breakdown and thicken, 5-6 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst, try to keep it a little chunky for a more rustic filling.
- Let cool completely. DO AHEAD Cranberry Apple filling can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until very thin, about 1/16-inch thick. Using cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles.
- Brush edges of 8 circles with beaten egg. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each egg-washed circle. Top with remaining circles to form 8 pies. Using a fork, crimp 1/4-inch around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, egg, and filling.
- Divide pies between baking sheets; chill for 45 minutes.
- Score pie dough tops, forming a small X in the center of each pie. Brush tops of pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles out of Xs, 17-20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.