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.


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  1. Kristen

    I imagine these were really tasty. I have always thought that rhubarb was one of those sadly under appreciated foods.

    • Liren

      It’s so very true how rhubarb is very under-appreciated. Sometimes I’m surprised when the grocery check out clerks have no idea what it is!

    • Liren

      Yes! They would be perfect for a picnic :)

  2. fooddreamer

    Mmm, I adore rhubarb so these are very appealing.

    Sometimes I can’t figure out how I became inspired with a particular treat, it just happens! Sounds like this was that time for you.

    • Liren

      One never knows when they might run into rhubarb. Once in a rare while, I’ll spot them in the stores in the winter – I am so curious where they are coming from at that time of year!

  3. Katty's Kitchen

    May I please have one right now? :) The only thing I want to see is a pic of one with a bite taken out…and if you mail me one, I’ll make it so.

    • Liren

      Aww, I wish I could send you one! Unfortunately, they didn’t last long! Not even long enough for me to take a picture with a bite taken out of it :)

  4. Trish

    Wow, these look and sound delicious. And they are so adorable! Love rhubarb. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Susi

    Gorgeous looking hand pies AND a filling of rhubarb (which I adore). This is a definite winner in my book :o)

  6. Cristina

    Those are some beauty stalks of rhubarb you’ve got there. I’d love to see how it looks inside these mini pies/empanada type goodies. The crust looks so good. I’m running out tomorrow to find some rhubarb! Beautifully done, Liren.

    • Liren

      Hope you find your rhubarb today, Cristina! Ah, empanadas…can’t wait to make those!

  7. Jun Belen

    Another lovely post, Liren. I’m actually kinda sad that summer’s over. Days are now shorter and all these spring/summer goodies like rhubarb will be gone soon. But, I know, there’ll be autumn treats to look forward to!

    Thanks, by the way, for the nice compliments to my blue crabs. We had a blast catching them in the Outer Banks.


    • Liren

      Thanks, Jun. You’re right, at least there’s all the autumnal abundance to look forward to. And you’re very welcome about your post on the crabs – the photos were just so vivid, I could taste them! It was the next best thing to eating them myself.

  8. Baking Barrister

    Beautiful photos and beautiful pies. I love when an idea just pops into my head without an inspiration in sight. It’s like the food is calling to me and is demanding to be made. Now only if hand pies were knocking at my kitchen door.

    • Liren

      LOL! Wouldn’t that be nice if tasty treats just appeared at our front door?

  9. bunkycooks

    This all makes perfect sense to me! I am also sad to see the end of the season for certain fruits. I guess we can look forward to next year!

    • Liren

      Yes, another year to wait! But if you’re lucky, sometimes you can find them in the frozen fruits section :)

  10. Monet

    Is there anything better than hand pies? I would have to say no. These are adorable, and full of delicious goodness to boot! I would have a hard time stopping at one, two or even three! Yum. Thanks for sharing.

  11. skip to malou

    the vibrant scarlet rhubarbs remind me that fall is just around the corner though haha.. lovely post as always liren…

  12. Julie M.

    I absolutely adore all things rhubarb. These look truly delicious and definitely worth the work!

  13. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Liren, I love that you brought rhubarb back one more time before the end of the season. It’s not over til it’s over, right?!?! These mini pies look wonderful and I’m excited to try it with a variety of fruits.

    • Liren

      Absolutely, Brian, it’s not over till its over! And these little pies will happily hold any fruit filling! Bring on the apples and the pears of fall!

  14. Liren

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments! It tickles me to know that there is a world of rhubarb lovers out there, and it does make me sad that the season is nearly over. I’m regretful I didn’t do enough with it this summer!

  15. Trissa

    Your hand pies are not only gorgeous, they are also very practical. I’m thinking of ways to adapt this idea and getting very hungry. Great pics too!

  16. 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!

  17. 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……

  18. 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….

    • Liren

      I’m happy you came by! Thank you for your lovely comment!

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

    • Liren

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

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