Cherry Hand Pies

It’s coming to the end of cherry season here and I’ve been trying to make a cherry pie for a while now, but every time I buy any cherries, they are eaten!

Cherries

Thankfully, I managed to make these little pies before anyone scoffed them!

These cherries are sweetheart cherries and are really dark, sweet and luscious to eat right away, but also great for making into pies, jams and tarts.  They don’t need too much sugar and make the perfect filling for a hand pie.

Cherry handpie

The pies are really quick and easy to make, the worst thing is taking the stones out.  It’s a really messy job.  You can either cut the cherries in half and remove the stones that way, or I use a cherry stoner.  I’m not sure either way is any less messy than the other, but the little tool is definitely quicker.

When cherries are out of season, frozen cherries work well too and they are already pitted!

In these pies, I have cooked the filling first as I wanted to lock in all the juice that can run out of a little pie, you just need to let it cool before adding to the pastry.

Cherry handpies baked

Ingredients:
For the filling:
300g cherries, pitted – I used two punnets
125g sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of water
2tbs corn starch or thickener – I used King Arthur Clear Gel
1/4 tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt

For the crust:
250g plain/all purpose flour
100g icing/confectioner’s sugar
150g cold butter, cut into cubes and refrigerated
2 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract
1-3tbs iced water
1 egg and a little milk to make an egg wash

Method:
To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, butter and vanilla into a food processor and pulse until you have the texture of rough breadcrumbs.  You can also do this by hand, using a pastry cutter.

Add the yolks and pulse, before adding the iced water one tablespoon at a time, you are looking for the dough to just come together.

Turn the dough out, form into a disc and wrap in plastic before refrigerating until you are ready to roll out.

Cherry hand pie rack

To make the filling, mix the sugar and thickener together and place the pitted cherries into a saucepan, along with the other ingredients.  If you don’t like almond extract, either replace with vanilla, or leave it out.

Bring up to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes – until the mixture has thickened and reduced, then leave to cool completely.

Roll out the dough and cut out enough shapes for the bases and lids.  I’ve used a circle cutter, but the bottom of a glass would do the job too.

Spoon a little of the filling into the middle of each circle and brush a little egg wash onto the edges.  Cover with the lid and press around the edges with a fork to seal each pie.  Dip the fork into some flour if it starts to stick.

Cherry Hand Pies cooling

Place the pies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a non stick liner.  I’ve used a cute little cherry cutter to top my pies too.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill and firm up.

When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Brush each pie with a little of the egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown and make sure no one bites into one straight from the oven as they will be insanely hot!

Cherry handpies

These are lovely warm with ice cream, or the perfect portable pie to take on a picnic.  They also make a really nice after-school treat.

Cherry hand pie tin

Black Cherry Puff Pies

We are still making the most of the stone fruit season here and these big black cherries were so juicy and sweet they were almost too good to put in a pie, well almost!

Cherry Hand Pies

Pitting cherries is always a messy business even with a cherry stoner, but there is something quite satisying when you fire the stones out of the cherries once you get going. Anyone else eat the little circles of cherry that come out attached to the stones, no, me neither!

I must admit that I did cheat and used not only puff pastry from the supermarket, but the ready rolled stuff too. The all-butter puff pastry you can get is really very good and so much easier than making it yourself.

The pies themselves are really simple, with not too many ingredients.  The buttery, flaky layers and super sweet juicy cherries make for a perfect summer baked treat and would be a welcome addition to any picnic.

Now the heatwave has released its grip on us (for now anyway) the oven can come back on!

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry, or you can buy the blocks and roll yourself, or of course home made would be best!  Keep refrigerated until ready to use
1 large punnet of black cherries – I bought a 500g pack
1 small lemon
1/4 cup sugar – use a little more if the cherries are very tart
1tbs corn flour/starch
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract (optional)
1 egg and a little milk to make a wash
Demerara/Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Cherry Hand Pies1

Method:
Place the pitted and halved cherries into a pan with the sugar, juice from the lemon, corn flour and the extracts. Stir everything together to combine.

At this point, you could mix the lemon juice and corn flour separately and then add, but I’ve never had any lumps just adding everything in together.

Heat the cherry mixture gently and stir everything together, taking care not to break up the fruit. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cooks.

Cook on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until the cherries soften a little and the juices are thickened.

Leave the pie filling to cool and then place in the refrigerater until cold. You can’t add hot pie filling to a cold crust as bad things will happen to the pastry.

Place the chilled, rolled out pastry on a lightly floured board and cut out circles – I got enough for 8 bases from one sheet and the 8 lids on the next sheet.  Whatever size cutter you go for, just make sure you have an even number, otherwise one of them might have to become a tart!

Place the pie bases onto a lined baking sheet and add a spoonful of the cherry pie filling into the centre of each circle, taking care to leave an edge.

Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the pastry lid onto each pie.

Crimp the edges together with a fork, making sure you have a good seal. I keep a little pile of flour ready when I do this, so I can keep dipping the fork in to stop it sticking to the pastry as it will be warming up a little by now.

You need to refrigerate the pies for 30 minuites to allow everything to relax.  You can also freeze them at this point too.

Cherry Hand Pie

When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F

Brush the pies with the egg wash and make a few slits in each pie to let the steam out.  Finally, sprinkle over a little of the sugar.

Bake for around 20 minutes. The pies will puff up and go a lovely golden brown colour when they are ready.

Leave them to cool a little before allowing anyone to sample them as the filling will be very hot!

Cherry Hand Pie1

They are just the best when still warm and crisp, but good cold too.