For me, there is a very, very fine line between breakfast and dessert. If it sweet, but not too sweet, somewhat bready, somewhat fruity, and looks good next to a cup of coffee, then I’m pretty sure it can be either. But sometimes you need to tweak things subtly in order for them to pass. For instance, a slice of blueberry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top is a fabulous dessert (and would also be a fabulous breakfast, don’t get me wrong), but your mom or your friends might go so far as to judge you if you told them you had that for breakfast. And while I’m certainly not one to allow myself to be judged for my breakfast choices, it’s nice to find new ways to get pie onto my breakfast plate.
Hand pies are middle ground here. Flaky and filled with sweet, spiced fruity goodness, but more contained. Less messy. Somehow visually appropriate for breakfast. Dusted with a little bit of powdered sugar, they look great on the breakfast table. And it was my endeavor this week to make some. I am by no means a pie maker. Pie crust is hard, guys. And good pie crust is even tougher. I opted for Bon Appétit‘s food processor pie crust, and while delicious, I encourage you guys to fill in your favorites for this recipe. (And maybe pass along your favorite to me – along with any tips for an amateur pie maker!) This one was satisfyingly flaky but I imagine it could be even flakier. If you’re as lost as me, then here’s a simple crust recipe for you, and a spiced cranberry-pear filling recipe to follow. Long live pie for breakfast!
CRANBERRY PEAR HAND PIES (makes 6 hand pies and one extra lil crostata thing)
1 1/2 C AP flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 full stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 C ice water
1 egg, beaten (for a wash)
2 Bosc pears, peeled and diced
3/4 C fresh cranberries
1/3 C sugar
1 Tbsp flour
pinches each of salt, ground cinnamon, and clove
1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until it has the texture of little bread crumbs – you want to the butter to be incorporated but still in little bits. (Mine might have been a bit too fine)
2. Add the ice water to your processor and pulse until the dough begins to come together. My pie expert roommate suggests working the dough as little as possible. Too bad I didn’t talk to her about it until after I made them.
3. Arrange your dough into a little square and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for an hour at least, or overnight. (I didn’t get a picture for this one, guys, sorry I know how exciting that would have been.)
4. Assemble your filling! Toss diced pears and cranberries with sugar, flour, and spices to coat. Let chill out while you preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. Let the juices ooze in your filling (vocab word: maceration!) while you roll out your crust. Make it about 15″ by 12″ so you can trim off the edges and get 6 nice sized squares. I rolled the extra into a little circle and crimped it up to make a galette-type thing, which was pretty cute and I wondered if I should have just made them all like that. Anyway. Roll out your crust. You can use a dough or pizza cutter to cut them, or a nice, sharp knife.
6. Take a little bit of water on your finger and outline each dough square as you go, so that when you fold them up they’ll stick together. Spoon a good mound of filling into one corner of each square. I prefered doing them one at a time. Then fold over the corner and crimp it down with your fingertips. Try not to tear your dough, but I obviously tore mine almost every time, so whatever. “Rustic” hand pies.
7. Once all your pies are finished, make little slits in the top so the steam can escape. (And the juices) Admire your little round thing. And try not to let the less-cute triangular ones feel unappreciated.
8. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 beaten egg. My roommate said (a little too late for me) that she would put a little dollop of butter on top of each one and then sprinkle them with sugar. I think you should do this and let me know how it goes.
9. Bake at 375°F in the middle of your oven for 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Get ready for pie.
10. Last but not least, EAT YOUR PIE. TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU MADE PIE. Give your friends pie, make them jealous, make them love you, make them breakfast. This spiced cranberry pear filling was the first thing to get me excited about cold weather this year so far. Maybe you can share that with someone.
Leave me pie tips in comments below!