Our Nation’s Birthday is upon us! It’s time to raise and salute to Old Glory while celebrating with fireworks displays & patriotic backyard BBQs which is the perfect venue for all-American Star-Spangled Cherry Hand Pies! These tasty cherry hand pies have the perfect amount of sweetness, a touch of lemon zest, with your fresh-picked tart cherries baked in a flaky buttery crust creating super yummy hand pies.
The kiddos can run by the picnic food fare & grab a hand pie without missing out on any fun; no forks, no plates, and no mess (last year I saw a couple of hand pies “slip” into someone’s pocket for a snack “later”). It made my heart sing and I will never divulge the pie enthusiast. Who am I to withhold pie?
Here are a few tips on perfect cherry pie filling you really need to know. First, cherries oxidize FAST! I don’t like whole cherries (plus for hand pies they should cut in half). This means you need to get these little cherry treasures in sugar immediately once sliced. I also flash-froze the rest of the cherries I did not use. (However, when they are thawed, I will toss them with sugar as they defrost, or I will have “brown” cherries.)
The morning (or night before) you make your hand pies, toss the cherries with the sugar and lemon juice and let sit for 2 to 3 hours. This will draw out the liquid (cherries are about 80% water). I then strain the sugary cherry juice into a saucepan, add the thickener and cook over medium heat to thicken. This juice goo gets folded back into the cherries. This ensures no watery messy cherry bombs and the filling cooks perfectly in the hand pies. Why make the “pies” do all the work in the oven alone? This pie-goo step saves ALL my fruit pies.
Left: Cherries mixed with sugar & lemon. Middle: The cooked pie goo. Right: Cherries folded into pie goo.
If you are not fond of cherries, click these links for instructions for Berry Hand Pies or Caramel Apple Hand Pies. (If you look closely at the picture above, I managed to sneak in a few blackberry hand pies, the hubby’s favorite.)
Roll out the dough thinner than you would for a regular pie, otherwise there is too much crust. For a 3-1/2 inch cookie cutter I spoon on about 3 scant tablespoons filling per hand pie, and then brush edges with water or egg wash. I used a silicone baking sheet (parchment works great too).
For the top crust, cut the stars out first, and gently stretch over the filling, pressing with fingers, and then crimping with a fork. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with large crystal sugar and bake!
So, whether you are staying in, going to a fireworks display, hosting a BBQ; however you celebrate, bring a batch of hand pies & save the last hand pie for yourself!
- 5 cups tart cherries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Clearjel or tapioca starch
- Zest and juice from one lemon
- Dash salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
- Large crystal sugar
- 2 Recipes Grandma's Pie Crust (For 12 4x4 Hand Pies)
- 2 Cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 scant cup shortening
- 1 cube butter (room temp)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water
- Cut in all dry ingredients just until crumbly. Add water all at once and mix just until forms a ball (do not kneed or over mix). The dough will be rather soft. For hand pies roll out section of dough heavily floured counter top, rolling out to about slightly thicker than 1/8-inch (slightly thinner than you would for full pie crust).
- In a large bowl, mix cherries with sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Let sit for a couple of hours at room temperature (or overnight in refrigerator) to draw out juice.
- Strain juice into a saucepan and stir in starch thickener until no lumps. Heat over medium to high heat stirring constantly with a whisk to cook into a beautiful gel-goo, this will only take a few short minutes and it will get very thick.
- Fold the mixture back into the cherries, and stir in butter to melt.
- Heat Oven to 375.
- Roll out the pie crust dough to slightly thicker than 1/8-inch (slightly thinner than you would for full pie crust), cutting 3 circles with a 3-1/2 inch cookie cutter for each hand pie. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Spoon on about 3 scant Tablespoons of pie filling.
- Cut out 3 stars (or other shapes) in each top crust (or you can put on top crust and use a knife to slice in vents).
- Wet the bottom crust with water or egg wash around the edge.
- Gently stretch the top crust over filling to edges of bottom, press firmly with finger tips to seal, then crimp with fork.
- Brush with egg wash, sprinkle on sugar. Bake 22-25 minutes at 375.