I have an unnatural love for Pi Day. I mean, a day to celebrate nerdiness by eating dessert? What more could you ask in a holiday? My husband started the chemistry club in high school (yes, we were very very cool) so it was clearly a match made in heaven.
Yesterday turned out to be sunny and 80 degrees, so we spent the afternoon eating pie at the park with friends. That right there is perfection, my friends.
I made apple cheddar hand pies and they were a HUGE hit, so I'll share the recipe here. These weren't overly sweet, and I could easily see making them for a snack, and even trying to switch out some or all of the AP flour for whole wheat and turning them into an easy breakfast.
These were perfect for eating at the park without needing plates and utensils and making a big mess. Plus, hand pies up the crust-to-filling ratio, and who could say no to more flaky, buttery goodness? Also, I halved the crust and quartered the filling (and still had too much filling). This made 13 hand pies, which was perfect for our smallish playgroup + a couple extra for dessert last night. I'm writing the recipe as I made it, but feel free to see the original for the the larger amounts.
Final note - I usually make my pie crusts without a food processor since the butter usually gets over-processed and cuts down on flakiness, but with the addition of the cheese, I'd recommend using a food processor here. Flakiness still abounded.
Apple-Cheddar Hand Pies
Adapted, just barely, from here.
1.25 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter (I used salted), diced
3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup ice water (may need a teaspoon or two more)
1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor (my mini-prep was the perfect size). Add butter; pulse until pea-size lumps appear. Pulse in cheese. Drizzle in ice water; process until dough starts to come together. Remove dough and incorporate into a ball with your hands.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days, or freeze while you make the filling if you're in a rush.
2 firm, crisp apples diced into small pieces (you can peel them if the skin bothers you, but I left it on and they were just fine)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional - I only had whole cloves and was feeling lazy and didn't want to grind them, so I skipped this)
sugar for dusting (a coarser sugar like turbinado would probably be good, but I didn't have any on hand)
1. While dough is chilling, make the filling by stirring everything together.
2. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch-ish-round cutter (I used a big 2-cup measuring cup) cut 10-12 circles out of the rolled dough. (I was able to get 7 circles initially; after I re-rolled the scraps, I got about 6 more, but for the last couple, I pushed the scraps together to form circles.) Transfer circles to a parchment- or wax-paper-lined baking sheet (if you use wax paper, like I did, be sure to remove it before baking), and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes (or freeze for about 10).
3. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
4. Remove chilled circles of dough from fridge/freezer. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto one half of each circle of dough. Using your finger, brush a little leftover juice from the apple mixture (or cold water) around the circumference of the dough. (You'll also use the juice later in place of egg wash, so don't throw it out.) The circles should be pliable by this point, but if not, wait a minute or two more. Fold the circle in half so the unfilled side comes over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie with your fingers. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes (or freezer for 10).
5. Remove the chilled hand pies from the fridge/freezer, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with a bit of leftover juice from the filling (or you could use an egg wash - 1 egg mixed with a couple Ts of water). Sprinkle a pinch of the sugar lightly over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.