Last summer, I shared that I’m not much of a pie lover. A year later, I’ve finally solved my pie dilemma: I’ve never tasted a crust that I truly enjoyed eating until I tried a buttermilk (with a touch of cornmeal) crust for these blueberry hand pies. When the pastry rolled out flawlessly without sticking or tearing, I was tempted to do a happy dance around the kitchen – surely I’m not the only one that’s been frustrated by pie crust? Well, no longer; I’m officially embracing the humble pie.
Here are some of my secrets to a flaky, buttery crust: Chill all the ingredients in the freezer for 15 minutes at the start (including the bowl of dry ingredients); use a pastry blender to make the crust by hand (you’re far less likely to overwork the dough); and add a splash of vodka (vodka gives the dough added moisture yet vaporizes during baking, leaving behind a tender crust and no taste of alcohol).
If pies or pastry have intimidated you in the past, I hope you’ll give these blueberry hand pies a try; they are absolute buttery perfection!
Blueberry Hand Pies
Buttermilk Pie Crust
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, divided
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cornmeal
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1-2 Tbsp vodka
1 cup blueberries
2 to 3 Tbsp honey, to taste
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1 large egg
1 Tbsp water
Grate 1/4 cup butter into a small bowl; cut remaining 1/4 cup butter into small cubes and place in a second bowl; chill bowls in freezer for 15 minutes. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; place bowl in freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Chill buttermilk and vodka in freezer for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle cubed butter over chilled flour mixture and toss with a spatula to coat. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until the biggest pieces are the size of peas; fold in grated butter. Drizzle buttermilk over flour mixture; use a spatula to gather dough together until it forms large clumps. If needed, add vodka 1 tablespoon at a time, then gently knead just to form a ball. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten slightly to form a disc. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days, or place in a freezer bag and freeze 1 to 2 months).
Meanwhile, make filling. Combine blueberries, honey, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small bowl; add to blueberry mixture and continue cooking until thickened, 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl. Place dough on a floured board and dust dough with flour. Roll out dough (roll dough in one direction, then lift up dough and rotate a quarter turn and roll, then repeat) until dough is just less than 1/4-inch thick. If dough starts to stick, use a bench scraper to lift dough from board.
Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out circles (gently gather scraps into a ball and chill while assembling pies). Roll over circles twice, until dough is 1/8-inch thick. Brush half the circles lightly with egg wash; use a sharp knife to cut vents in remaining circles (these will be the tops). Place a small spoonful of blueberry filling in the center of each egg washed circle (approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons). Top with a vented circle; seal edges with a fork. Transfer pies to baking sheets; brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Repeat with chilled scraps (re-roll one time only).
Bake for 14 minutes, until pies are puffed and golden. Cool for two minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store leftovers up to one day at room temperature.
Yield – 16 hand pies
Calories – 112 (per hand pie)
Carbs – 12