Which Came First?
The recipe or the ingredient?
When I have a concept, it’s usually very clear where I found my inspiration. Sometimes, it’s a recipe that I have or come across. Sometimes, it’s an ingredient. But once in a while, it’s not very clear. Sometimes, it’s just because.
I can’t actually pinpoint whether I was craving a pie or rhubarb, but somehow, I found myself making Rhubarb Hand Pies. While we are at the very tail end of the rhubarb growing season, I was happy to see the vibrant scarlet stalks at the market. It just seemed to make sense. Almost without thinking, I found my knives dicing those leggy stalks and my hands forming disks of buttery dough.
I envisioned little miniature pies, or hand pies, as some call them.
The methods for hand pies vary. Some use a puff pastry, while some use a standard pie dough, cut into rectangles or circles with the dough folded over a fruit filling. As for the filling, some use a raw fruit and sugar mixture, while others cook the filling down, almost like a light jam.
For mine, I decided to use a Pate Sucre with a filling similar to this method. I sandwiched the rhubarb between two round disks, sealing the edges. It was definitely labor intensive, but I loved how they turned out. Little full moons, oozing with sweet and tangy rhubarb, they were the scrumptious pocket pies I was hoping for.
Rhubarb Hand Pies
Makes 6 hand pies.
- 1 disks Pate Sucre (1/2 recipe, see below)
- 3-4 stalks of rhubarb, diced
- 3/4 cup sugar (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/8 cup heavy cream or milk
- raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the filling: Combine diced rhubarb, sugar and cornstarch in a pan, and place on stove over medium heat. Bring it to a boil for about two minutes, or until the rhubarb starts to break down and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely in the refrigerator before use.
Roll pate sucre to about 1/8-inch thick on a sheet of parchment paper. Using a round 3.5-inch cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds of the dough. Place 6 of the rounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Carefully place about 2 heaping tablespoons of rhubarb in the center of each, taking care to keep the edges of the dough clean. Carefully place the remaining rounds on top, sealing the edges by pinching down. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Lightly brush the dough with cream or milk. Generously sprinkle or press on raw sugar on the tops of the dough. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the hand pies are golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Recipe adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, Oxmoor House, 2000. It can also be found here.
Makes 2 medium disks.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup ice water
Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till incorporated. Add the butter and pulse for about 10 seconds, until the mixture looks like crumbs. Add the egg yolks, pulse. With the food processor running, add the water in a slow drizzle until it comes together in a ball. Take care not to get the dough too wet. Divide the dough into two parts, place each ball on plastic wrap, flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough tightly and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using, or overnight until ready to use. The dough can also be frozen.