The previous hand pie recipe uses sliced apples on a bed of apricot preserves. This one uses chopped apples and pears mixed with walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, coconut, and brown sugar. The first is a little more refined; this is more informal, something you might take on a picnic or tuck into a youngster’s lunch bag.
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
1 ripe pear, quartered, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the glaze and dusting:
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
1. When you make the pastry, divide the dough into 4 equal-size balls. Flatten the balls into ½-inch-thick disks and wrap the disks in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until fairly firm, 1 to 1½ hours, but not overly so, or it will be difficult to roll.
2. To make the filling, put the raisins, walnuts, brown sugar, coconut, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse repeatedly, until the nuts are finely chopped-but not too finely; you want some larger pieces, too. Transfer to a medium-size mixing bowl and add the apple, pear, and lemon juice. Mix well and set aside.
3. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into an 8-inch circle on a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper with a floured rolling pin. Spoon about one-quarter of the filling over half of the dough, leaving a ¾-inch border along the edge.
4. Moisten the edge of the pastry with a finger, then fold the empty half over the filling. Fold up the border and pinch the edges together, rolling them between your fingers into a son of rope edge. Place the turnover on a large, lightly buttered baking sheet. Refrigerate while you make the remaining hand pies, putting each on the sheet as it is assembled. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Remove the sheet from the refrigerator and brush each hand pie with a little milk. Sprinkle them with granulated sugar, then poke the surface 2 or 3 times with a fork to make steam vents. Place on the center oven rack and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 20 minutes longer, until golden brown. You may see steam coming from the vents.
6. Transfer the pies to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. While they’re still warm, dust them with a little confectioners’ sugar, if you like. I just put a tablespoon or two of sugar in a sieve and shake it right over the pies. I think these are best eaten warm.
A slice of pie history:
We Americans–always quick to embrace a good idea–have adopted apple pie as our own, but pie, even apple pie, has a rather long and rich history that predates the founding of our country.
The first published pie recipe–for a fairly contemporary-sounding goat cheese and honey pie in a rye crust–reportedly dates back to the early Romans, who may have learned to make pie from the Greeks, these earliest pies were baked in inedible reeds, whose sol purpose was to contain the filling.
This tradition of baking pies in inedible crusts would continue for hundreds of years, when “pyes” originally appeared in England, as early as the 12th century, the crust was a series of thick, straight walls known as a “coffyn.” fowl and other meats were the pies of the day, often the legs of the bird were left dangling off the side of the dish, providing a handle for transporting it.
Fruit fillings emerged around the 16th century and followed settlers from Britain to the new world, the pie-in-a-box concept had yet to die off the earliest colonists baked thick-crusted pies in long rectangular pans they called–you guessed it–coffins. In time, though, pie baking would evolve from essentially a survival skill to a domestic art, as evidenced in the first American cookbook by Amelia Simmons (1796), which includes 14 pie recipes and a variety of crusts, more reliable ovens would allow for thinner, edible crusts whose function did not disregard flavor, the abundance and variety of early American apple orchards would give our ancestor cooks opportunity to bring a certain degree of nuance and sophistication to the baking of apple pies.
So, American as apple pie? certainly but with acknowledgement and gratitude to the tradition from whence we came.
Nutritional information includes 1 tablespoon each of milk and granulated sugar, but does not include optional Confectioners' sugar or Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry. For nutritional information on Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry, please follow the link above.