This is actually my first attempt at making pies. I had to make them, because I am the host of Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy as Pie (August 2011)
, and since I claimed that making pies are “as easy as pie”, I thought I’d better prove it to myself before trying to convince others. What are pies in my opinion? I tend to view pies as those which have a bottom crust, and a proper top crust, and by proper I mean either the same crust that the bottom is made of, or a shortcrust/puff pastry top. Anything short of that, like a crumble or streusel topping shouldn’t really be categorized as a pie, but that’s just me of course. Of course, some might beg to differ, and a clear exception would be “shepherd’s pie”, which really isn’t a pie nor a tart.
Anyway, it’s spring in the Northern hemisphere, and with that comes an abundance of spring fruits like berries and cherries. I absolutely love this season, because all my favorite fruits are in season. I love the berries and the stone fruits, and it’s times like this that I totally appreciate living in Singapore, because we get an abundance of fruits from all over the place, be it Iran or Israel, or America. And what tops all of this off is that we get the best of both worlds – when it’s spring in the Northern hemisphere, we get to enjoy seasonal fruits imported from those places. And when it changes to winter there, we can easily turn to the Southern hemisphere which is enjoying spring for our cravings for any spring produce.
Anyway, I had a last bit of pie crust left, and I decided that I had to do a pie, even if they were mini ones, just to try it out. The dough is made with the Bourke Street Bakery recipe I shared earlier, and the filling is a mixture of only cherries or a combination of cherries and rhubarb, both of which are heavenly. I got the rhubarb imported from Australia, after I saw that they were retailing at close to S$20/kg here :/ Thankfully a friend was coming back for his vacation, so it was perfect timing! As much as I love snacking on Bing cherries, I would have preferred a more sweet-sour experience, but I guess we can only achieve that with sour Morello cherries, which we sadly do not get here.
Making the lattice layer is pretty easy actually, I didn’t manage to take any photos myself, but this slideshow by Bon Appétit is pretty helpful, although I’ve to admit that these pictures by Jenny got me convinced that it wasn’t that difficulty. My lattice tops weren’t too even because I didn’t have that much pie crust left >.<
Very loosely adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler in Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 4 muffin-sized pies
For the pastry dough
For the fruit filling
15g brown sugar
1g ground ginger
1g ground cinnamon
Zest from half a lemon
Pinch of salt
Preparing the pastry dough,
- If working from frozen dough, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours before following instructions below.
- Remove the pastry dough disc from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it.
- After flouring your work surface and rolling pin, roll out the disc to about 3-5mm thick. It is best to start rolling from the centre and rolling the dough away from you, rotating the dough whilst you are at it. Do not attempt to stretch the dough overly, because the pastry will just shrink in the oven later.
- After rolling, use a round pastry cutter to cut rounds into the pastry. Fit these rounds on top of your muffin tin and use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the mould. At the same time, even out the thickness of the pastry all around. Roll the leftover pastry into a ball to roll out for the top crust later.
- Leave the muffin tin in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to relax the gluten.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling.
- Pit and halve the cherries. Trim, peel and cut the stalks of rhubarb into 3-5cm long slices. Mix both fruits together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, combine the brown sugar and salt together with the lemon zest. Rub the zest together with the sugar using your fingers to release the maximum amount of ‘lemony-ness’. Sift together the cornstarch, ground ginger and ground cinnamon into the bowl. Mix well.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the fruit and toss until all the fruit is evenly coated.
- Place equal portions of the fruit into each muffin hole. If the fruit has macerated and there is a substantial amount of liquid, do not put the liquid into the pie.
- With the leftover dough, roll it out and using a bench scrapper or pizza cutter, cut out strips of even width.
Using the pictorial instructions here, begin your lattice tops for your pies. Fold in any overhang and trim away the excess lattice for a neat pie. Brush a simple egg wash (half an egg + 1 tablespoon of water) on the tops of the pie.
- Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven of 180°C.
- Once the tops have turned golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes because the juices and filling will be very hot.
Notes: The moment the fruit touches the sugar, it will begin to macerate. Therefore, it is best not to prepare the fruit filling too early. If there is lots of liquid when you’re ready to fill the pie, do not use all the liquid because the filling will soften and liquefy when baked.
Taste: I loved the contrast between the sweet Bing cherries, the slightly sour rhubarb stalks and zest from the lemon. However, I felt that it could do with a slight more sourness and less sweetness. But that’s just my personal preference. Friends I gave this too loved it :]
Texture: Perfect flaky crust which gives way to a warm, thick filling which retained its shape still – delicious.
- Serving size: Although these hand pies fit into your palm easily, they’re definitely not bite-sized. It takes at least 5 bites or more to slowly savor them and they make a pretty substantial snack!
Modifications: Perhaps a tad more zest and a little more sugar the next time, because I felt that although the fruits were sweet, the filling lacked sugar. You can also make all-cherry fillings, because I made 2 with all-cherry filling and they were delicious too!
Storage: The pies store really well at room temperature, kept in an air-tight container for a week. Do zap them in the oven or toaster for a while to crisp them up again, because they’re best eaten when warm.
Would I make this again?: Of course, but I definitely need more work on my lattice-making skills.