Cherry picking is so much fun. Eating them straight from the tree and filling your bag with plump ripe cherries, summer can’t get any better than this. Sour or tart cherries, red bright ones look so tempting on a tree but one bite and you will think who eats those, very sour with bitter taste notes. Incorporate them into your baked goods and you will be rewarded with something delightful, that bitterness transforms into a complex flavor along with sour and sweet nothing less than umami.
Fresh sour cherries are not easy to source as they are very delicate and needs hand picking. It will just bursts if you are not careful. But frozen ones are available easily. If you don’t have luxury of picking your own check out farmer’s market. Trust me and just grab them, add it to your favorite cherry pie instead of sweet cherries for an unforgettable pie experience. You might not know but Michigan is major producer of these cherries and sadly this was the first year I picked them. Best way to preserve them is making a jam or can them for pie filling.
Hand pies are convivial and cheerful compared to regular pies which can get messy. They are cute and reminds me of those small rural grandma bakeries which are now long gone. I am using graham flour which I got from a Windmill based in Holland, Michigan. Graham flour is simple a type of whole wheat flour where they take wheat and just grind it, neither removing nor add anything else. If you are thinking about graham crackers than you are right it was first made using graham flour. Graham flour is healthy and nutritious, lending a hearty taste to the pie. You can substitute regular all-purpose or whole wheat if you want.
Instead of using regular pie dough method I am doing something called rough puff. Puff pastry as you all know has many thin layers but is a very long and tedious process. Rough puff on the other hand is simplified version and works really well in this case. I highly recommend making the dough night before so it has time to chill and rest. Rest will make dough very easy to handle. If you don’t have sour cherries use your favorite homemade or any store-bought preserve.
Makes 8 hand pies
- 90 grams/ 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 60 grams/ 1/2 cup graham flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 113 grams/ 1/2 cup/ 1 stick unsalted butter, small cubes and chilled
- 1 tablespoon vodka, optional
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water, cold
Sour cherry preserve
- 100 grams/ 1 cup pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen
- 67 grams/ 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar or regular sugar
- Mix together both flour and salt. Rub in the butter till it resembles a coarse meal. Add vodka if using and mix. Add water a little at a time and just enough that it forms a shaggy dough. It will come together once you roll it.
- Put the dough in a plastic wrap and pat into 5 inch square, chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
- Cut cherries into quarters. Add them to a thick bottom pan along with sugar and lemon juice over high heat. Stir frequently and cook till thermometer registers 220° F. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.
Make hand pies
- Roll the dough into 10 x 14, fold into thirds and repeat to form a square. Dough will be shaggy but after few folds it will be perfect. Chill for 30 minutes and repeat 2 more times.
- After final fold rest for an hour. Preheat oven to 375° F. Roll into 10 x 14, about ⅛ inch thickness. Cut 16 circles using 2 inch round cutter.
- Take each round, put some jam and top with another round and press the edges with fork to seal. Repeat this with rest of pieces and arrange in a baking tray. Put tray in freezer for 20 minutes. Brush with egg and sprinkle sugar.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until top is golden brown. Place baking tray on cooling rack.