Ok, I know it’s not July but lately my motto has been ‘better late than never’. So, in the middle of September, let me introduce to you July’s Bakealong challenge: Blueberry Hand Pies!
This is one of the challenges that I did many times over but not because I wanted to eat a lot of pies. To be honest, I find mini pie making tedious (you have to shape them individually) but I wasn’t satisfied with how the first pies (and their pictures) turned out.
I’ve been struggling with a lack of creativity these past weeks and I couldn’t summon enough energy to bake or cook during the weekends. I’m basically a slug on Saturdays so I have no choice but to spend my Sunday mornings frantically cooking or baking. That’s not very conducive to creativity, at least for me, and the end results are not satisfying in the least.
I think it was also this time last year that I blogged about this apathy (on my defunct blog) and it seems to have become my yearly visitor. Anyway, back to these hand pies. So I tried thrice just to produce something that I’m happy to share on my blog.
The first iteration of these pies was with raspberries. I liked raspberries but I found that it needs more sugar in the pie filling. The pie crust was so buttery, it literally left grease marks on my hands when I picked one of them up. Taste wise, you can definitely detect the butter in the dough.
Undeterred, I made another batch the week after. This time I used a heart cookie cutter and added more sugar to the filling. But I still wasn’t satisfied with the finished product. While I was quite happy with the filling, the dough wasn’t as workable as the previous one. I’m attributing it to the fact that I chilled and thawed it sloppily for a few times. I tried to make the hearts neater and cuter by pressing fork on the edge of the dough. By the time I finished all the dough, I had pulled the dough out of the fridge for 5 times at least.
Suffice it to say, I was fed up with it all and took listless photos afterwards.
I tried a different approach for the last attempt. I figured that the best approach was to make it sweet and simple. The original blueberry hand pies recipe said that you had to roll the dough into a rectangular sheet and measure 16 pieces with a ruler. I figured that I was better off just using my regular cookie cutter to stamp out as many as I can.
I also bought a couple of punnets of blackberries from the supermarket on sale. Since I was sticking to the recipe this time, I thought I’d use blackberries instead. The filling turned out better than I expected. I didn’t have to add a lot of sugar and it gelled easily.
The dough, on the other hand, was less buttery that the first (weird, I used the same brand and amount of butter) but still winning points on the overall flavor and flakiness. This dough recipe is a potential standby for future pies.
I cut very thin slits on top of the pies for the steam to come out, but I was too zealous in brushing the egg wash that they were sort of blocked. I had to enlarge the slits halfway through. In hindsight, this isn’t the best option since at that time, the dough has set and the slits didn’t show up distinctly. Lesson learned: careful with the egg wash and define the slits well.
Everything pulled through in the end and I was left with these gorgeous hand pies.
The weather cooperated and I somehow managed to find my groove when I was shooting these pies.
Personally, I learned that there will be times that, as a food photographer, no matter how amateur or professional you are, you just have to push through the malaise and dig in your toes. Recognizing this has helped me assess what works for me best. I know that I shoot better when I’m only focused on one dish, when I’m more relaxed, and had time to prepare.
There will still be times when food photography will feel like a chore and times that the pictures flow naturally from your fingertips. But we’re tough right? When the going gets tough, they say, the tough gets going. If I had given up on these pies the first time I made these, I would have lost the opportunity to shoot some of the best images in my life.
With that said, let’s enjoy these blueberry hand pies. ☺
For the Pastry:
- 240 grams (2 cups) all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 226 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold
- 120 grams (1/2 cup) sour cream, cold
For the Filling:
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (for fresh berries) or 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (for froze berries)
- 67 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Topping:
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons white sparkling sugar, for garnish
- To make the pastry: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, work the butter into the flour until the mixture is sandy. There should be pea sized bits of butter in the mixture.
- Add the sour cream and mix until chunks form. Transfer onto a floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together.
- Pat the dough into a rough log and roll into a 8″ x 10″ rectangular. Starting with a short side, fold it thrice like a letter.
- Flip the dough and turn it 90°. Repeat forming into a rectangle and folding in 3. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the filling: Place the berries into a saucepan. Whisk sugar and cornstarch together. Pour onto the berries, add salt, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Cook the berries on medium high heat. Stir while simmering. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until thickened, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the berries to a bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the filling. Chill until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- To assemble the pies, roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square. Cut out 16 squares about 3 1/2″. Alternatively, use a cookie cutter to cut out the dough.
- Top 8 of the dough squares with a tablespoonful of the filling. Brush some beaten egg on the sides of the squares.
- Cut slits for venting on top of the other 8 squares. A decorative cutter can also be used.
- Top the filled square with the vented dough pieces. Press the edge of the dough with a fork to seal.
- Brush the top of each square with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
- Refrigerate until firm, around 20 minutes, the dough or the pies when they become too sticky prior to baking.
- Store the pies, lightly wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days. You can freeze them to store longer.
- If using other berries (e.g. raspberries), you can add or reduce the sugar in the filling.
- After chilling the filling, you can stir it with a spoon to make it easier to work with. Do not heat it up.
For more #Bakealong Challenge recipe, check out these posts:
- August Bakealong Challenge: Golden Foccacia
- May Bakealong Challenge: Berry Blitz Torte
- April Bakealong Challenge: Chocolate Babka