Jacqueline's Cherry Hand Pies

Jacqueline's Cherry Hand Pies (should yield about 24 3" square pies)
from Ellen's kitchen, thanks to Smitten Kitchen and The Grand Central Baking Book


  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest (optional)
  • 3/4 cup and 1 1/2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) unsalted butter, very cold, and cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh, frozen, or canned (with juice)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbs instant tapioca or cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs water
Make pie dough:
  • whisk flour, zest, 1 1/2 tbs granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt in large bowl.  Work the butter into the flour (with pastry blender, two forks, or fingertips) until biggest pieces of butter are size of tiny peas.  Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms.  Knead two or three times in bowl to form ball.  If doesn't come together, add remaning 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tbs at time, until it does, then gently knead again.  Divide dough in half.  Warp each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days (can keep in freezer for 1-2 months).  To defrost, leave in fridge for 24 hours.
  • while dough is chilling, toss the cherries with 3/4 cup sugar, then stir in almond extract and lemon juice.  Allow the mixture to soak for at least 10 minutes, or up to 3 hours.  Add the tapioca and salt once the cherries have released some of their juices.  (If you are using canned cherries, measure out 1/2 cup of cherry juice and discard the rest.  Stir tapioca and salt into reserved cherry juice until dissolved, and then stir it into the cherries.)
  • oven to 400 degrees, and line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.   Beat egg and 1 tbs water and set aside.  
  • your counter and unwrap the first half of your dough.  Roll a few times in one direction, then change direction, etc.  Want 1/8 thick.  Cut into 3 inch squares (may use fluted pastry wheel or cookie cutter).  If dough becomes too soft, slide onto baking sheet and freeze for a few minutes until semi-firm again.  Will be much less frustrating!
  • half of squares very, very lightly with egg wash - these will be your bases.  Cut a small vent in other half - these will be lids.  Put about 2 tsp filling on each base; top each filled base with vented top.  Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with fingertips or fork.  Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.  Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar.  Repeat with remaining dough.  
  • for 15-20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges.  Transfer to  cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.  


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