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Apple Hand Pies

Apple Hand Pies

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Makes 1 dozen.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe in a restaurant trade journal.

This is another recipe I found in a trade journal specific for restaurants. These are individual little fruit pies, made in a muffin pan. Making 12 little pies rather than one big one can be a bit tedious, but the results are well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

For the Pastry Shell:
22/3 cups (14 ounces/400g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs; at room temperature
1 cup (227g) butter; at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash
For the Filling:
2 large (10 ounces/283g each) Granny Smith apples; peeled and diced
3 large (+7 ounces/200g) Bosc pears; peeled and diced
½ cup (3.6 ounces/100g) sugar, divided
½ cup (2 ounces/60g) chopped pecans
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
Grated lemon zest to taste (from about 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces (227g) feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

For the Pastry Shell: Place the flour in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the water, salt, eggs, butter, and sugar. Whisk well to break the butter into small beads. Add to the flour and combine until dry enough to knead. Knead until smooth (it takes only seconds). Wrap in plastic and set aside in a cool place.

For the Filling: When peeling and dicing the apples and pears, you can put a few tablespoons of water and lemon juice in a large bowl to hold the fruit. Turn the fruit repeatedly to coat. The acid in the lemon juice will help protect the fruit from turning brown with oxidation.

To the diced fruit, add 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the pecans, cornstarch, butter (melting it will help distribute it more evenly, or cut into small chunks), lemon zest, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Cover and set aside.

Divide the pastry dough into 1/3 and 2/3 portions. Wrap the smaller portion and set it aside while you work with the larger piece. Divide the dough into four equal portions. While you work with one portion, keep the others wrapped in plastic. Divide one portion into three pieces. Roll each piece into a circle with a diameter large enough to line each cup of the muffin pan, with a little dough extending over the rim. (Mine required a diameter of 3¼ inches (8.25cm).) Continue working with the pieces of dough until all 12 cups of a muffin pan are lined with dough. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Spoon some of the crumbled feta cheese into the bottom of each cup (you will probably have feta left over). Spoon the fruit filling into each muffin cup, mounding the fruit above the rim of each cup.

Working with the 1/3 portion of dough set aside earlier, divide into 12 pieces like you did the larger portion and roll each piece into a top crust large enough to cover each muffin cup. Brush the edges of the top crust with the egg wash. Invert it and align it into place to cover each muffin cup, pressing around the edges to seal. Using a small sharp knife, cut a few steam vents into the top of each pie. You can also decorated the edges with the tines of a fork. If necessary, carefully trim the edges of each pie to make it look neat.

Brush the top of each pie with egg wash. Garnish with the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and the remaining sugar.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack until warm. Can be served warm or chilled.