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…

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.

Pate Sucre

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.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Annapet

    Liren, they look absolutely delicious! Guess what, I never had rhubarb yet. I probably should grow them.

    • Liren

      I hear rhubarb grows like weeds, Annapet. I should grow them, too!

  2. lynne

    I’ve never eaten anything with rhubarb in it…but these look so good they’re making me crave it!

    • Liren

      Hi Lynne, promise me that before summer is over that you will try some rhubarb? It is absolutely wonderful, especially in desserts like these hand pies. Let me know what you think when you do!

  3. Shirley

    These look great! I recently tried making mini pies, but my dough wasn’t crisp enough and there wasn’t enough jam flavor. I like your idea of adding raw sugar to the top.

  4. Lee Ann Foster

    Nicely done. I like the term hand pies! Rhubarb is a favorite to cook with, alone and mixed with other sweeter fruits. True comfort food. Thanks LA.

    • Liren

      Oh, I know! Here is an instance where I just didn’t have the patience to photograph everything – I was too busy eating!

  5. Debi(Table Talk)

    I love little desserts like this; they are perfect for casual entertaining. Though labor intensive on the front end, it is so nice to have dessert out of the way and displayed for everyone to see.
    Your photos are superb (as always).
    Just finished lunch and I wish I had one of these in my hands right now!

    • Liren

      Aw, thanks, Debi! Yes, lots of work in the beginning, but I like that it can be done way ahead of time. Definitely great for casual entertaining!

  6. Matt Kay

    These are reminiscent of pies I used to eat when I was young. My mother still makes them once in a while. She combines strawberries and rhubarb to make delightfully sweet/tangy goodness all wrapped up in flaky, crust.

    You’re right. Rhubarb is totally under rated.

    • Liren

      Matt, how lucky you are to have grown up with a mom making marvelous little pies! Rhubarb and strawberry together is just wonderful!

  7. joudie's Mood Food

    What a gorgeous way to present this. I love love love it. How very sweet. And i am sure the taste was just super! Rhubarb is my favourite! Very happy i stumbled across your blog….

  8. Chef Dennis

    your hand pies look positively delicious!! what a great way to enjoy these glorious fruits we have available….I would love to make those using some of our local peaches……sigh……

  9. Tammy

    So I have a bumper crop of rhubarb- Can I freeze these ? they look adorable!

    • Liren

      Hi Tammy! Absolutely, freezing the is a great idea, especially if you’re planning for a party. You can go ahead and assemble them, wrap and freeze until ready to bake.

      Alternatively, you can freeze the pate sucre disks until just ready to use. For your bumper crop of rhubarb (lucky!), I would slice and freeze them until you are ready to make your filling. I would love to have a freezer full of rhubarb!

Kitchen Confidante®