Friday, July 29, 2011

Peach-Ginger Hand Pies

In addition to the amazing char siu pastries that were on the menu of Victoria Airlines* on our recent trip, we also enjoyed these flaky and delicately sweet peach-ginger hand pies. When traveling (by air, car, boat, or train), it helps to have snacks or meals that do not require a lot of effort or even utensils. A sandwich is a good example. But these peach-ginger hand pies are sooooo much better. They utilize my absolute favorite neutral flaky pastry dough which I use for savory and sweet creations alike.

The filling is even simpler still. Fresh peaches, fresh ginger, a touch of honey, and some flour to help bind. That is all. Seriously. I considered spicing it up, but I really wanted to taste the fruit and the ginger front and center. That is exactly what you taste and smell when you bite into these hand pies: sweet juicy peaches and spicy ginger. They really are a perfect match. Add a touch of sugar on top of these babies before popping them in the oven and you have a sweet, golden crust.

If you aren't taking them on the road and you want to be really tongue-in-cheek about your hand pies, arrange them artfully in a pretty pie dish. Your guests will laugh if nothing else :)

*Victoria Airlines is not a real airline (as far as I'm aware). I am referring to my imaginary airline company where I make yummy foods to take on plane trips, because you know, food's not free anymore unless you're rich enough to afford first class (I'm not!)... or fly internationally. Bollocks!

Peach-Ginger Hand Pies
Makes 12

Pâte Brisée:
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup very cold water
1 1/2 cups + 1 T. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 T. unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes

2 peaches, pitted and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (you can leave the skins on if you like)
3 T. fresh minced ginger
1 T. honey
1 T. all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten with 1 T. water
Sugar, for sprinkling

Start by making the crust. In a small bowl add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep cold in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl and add the small butter cubes, scattering all over. Pulse briefly until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still the size of peas. Add the water-salt mixture and pulse for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight (this dough can now be frozen in a freezer bag and then defrosted in the refrigerator the day before it is to be used).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Add the peaches to a mixing bowl and toss with the ginger, honey, and flour.

Place the chilled dough on a floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough to make sure it doesn't stick, and working quickly to ensure the dough stays as cold as possible. Add more flour to the board as needed. Use a 4-inch to 5-inch round cutter to cut circles out of the dough. If the dough circles are warm and soft at this point, return them to the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes. Gather the dough scraps, reroll the scraps, and cut out more circles, until you have 12.

Put about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold each circle in half to form semi-circles and press the edges to seal (if the dough is dry and not sticking to itself, brush water along the edge to help it stick). Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges to seal it well, and place each hand pie on the baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart. When all the hand pies are assembled (you may have a little extra filling leftover), place the baking sheet with the hand pies in the fridge to chill for about 15 to 30 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the baking sheet from the fridge and brush the egg wash over the top of each hand pie, followed by a generous sprinkling of sugar. Cut a small slit with a paring knife in the center of each pie to allow steam to escape. Bake until dark golden and puffed, about 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes (or completely) before serving. These are best the day they are made, but can be refreshed in the oven to recrisp the crust if needed.


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