sweet cherry pie pockets

makes 16 individual serving pies or two 6-inch free form tarts

When I went to the farmers’ market a few weeks ago, my intentions were to make a cherry pie. I remembered making an excellent one last year, that had just the right amount of starch to keep the center from oozing out all of the place. Since I hadn’t written the recipe down, and wasn’t in the mood to have all my pitted cherries be for naught, I decided upon these hand pies. The bonus is they made for a fun, homemade treat to pack in Isabella’s lunch for a few days until they were all gone.

sweet butter pastry crust

8 ounces all purpose flour

8 teaspoons (40 grams) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt

4 ounces cold butter, cut into 16 pieces

4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

cherry filling

14 ounces sweet bing cherries, pitted (should yield about 2 cups)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon (15 grams) all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten with a bit of water

coarse sugar for sprinkling, optional

To prepare the dough, add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it forms a sandy crumb. Starting with 4 tablespoons, sprinkle the water over the flour-butter mixture and pulse until it forms a ball, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add another tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Dump onto an unfloured counter and form into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic or waxed paper and let chill until firm, but still pliable, about 1 hour (you can quick chill it in the freezer for 20 minutes too, which is what I tend to do while pitting the cherries).

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the filling, combine the cherries, sugar and all purpose flour and salt. Stir to mix well and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. Cut out 5-inch circles. It’s okay to re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used up. Place cut circles on the prepared baking sheets (do not forget to place on parchment before forming pockets or they will be too delicate to transfer). Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each circle, fold over, making sure the filling is not spilling out the edges, and crimp the edges with a fork. Pierce tops with the tines of a fork to create steam vents.

Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Let sit on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note (added 7/11/10):

After hearing about Amy’s experience making these, I thought I’d add a note about making the dough. Pie crusts are one of those miracles, almost. Really it just takes patience and a close eye. One second it seems as though those crumbles will never make dough, and the next, voila, you’ve got a ball gathered at the bottom of your food processor.

Heat and humidity, two things we’ve been experiencing a lot of lately here in NYC, where Amy and I both live, also greatly affects baking and how flour absorbs the water. If after adding the full amount of liquid, you still haven’t achieved a ball of dough, it’s okay to use your judgement and add more one teaspoon at a time. It sounds like a small amount but makes a huge difference. Same goes for adding too much liquid, so it’s always better to start off with the lesser amount, otherwise you will throw off all the dry proportions if you try to add more flour.