Cherry Hand Pies

It's almost Pie and Beer day, people. Can you believe it?

The rest of you non Utahians have no idea what on earth I'm talking about. We have a little tongue in cheek name here for the illustrious, somewhat bizarre holiday that closes down the entire state this weekend. The descendants of Mormons get outfitted in big hoop skirts and bonnets to go traipsing around setting off fireworks and having old-timey parades.

They call it Pioneer Day. The rest of us eat pie and beer until we can't move. We call it "Pie and Beer Day". It's probably obvious which one I celebrate.


I'm a big fan of pie but in my personal opinion, the best pies fit in your hand. Portable pies. And these hand pies fit the bill perfectly. Juicy, brilliantly-hued, local tart cherries rendered into filling and delivered in mouthfuls of flaky, tender pie crust. To compliment the cheeky blush of this scarlet fruit, I adorned the edge of each crust with a "pie and beer" stamp.

If these pies are wrong, you don't want to be right, friends. I promise.

Today is a big day on the blog. Because I'm giving you the keys to the kingdom. My mother's pie crust recipe. It's the one I make from memory, a recipe I only know by touch and feel. A little of this, a smidge of that. In this post, I've done my best to measure it out so you can duplicate this never fail crust in all it's pastryrific glory. 


We begin with flour, salt, and a little sugar. The profile here is adaptable. If you want a sweeter crust, go heavy on the sugar. I like my sweet pies to have a little salty zing for balance, so I go liberal with the salt. 

Next, I cut in shortening and this is where it gets tricky. First off, I don't use Crisco. Haven't for nearly a decade. I use a brand called Spectrum you can pick up at Whole Foods. It doesn't have hydrogenated oils, which is a big bonus in my book. You are going for a mealy consistency, with clumps of dough a bit smaller than peas.

Looks pretty much the same as any pie crust recipe at this point, right? Here's where we deviate. Get some really cold water, almond extract and a small amount of flour. You're going to make a paste, like you were in kindergarten all over again. It should be thick but still pourable. Add it to your mealy pie crust and mix until the dough follows the fork.

Too dry? Add cold water. Too wet? Add flour. It's not rocket science.

When you're done it should look like this. Malleable but not sticky. 


Roll the crust out about a quarter inch thick and start cutting. At this point you can use whatever shapes you want., I went with circles but the possibilities here are endless. Triangles, hearts, stars, little penises. Whatever, kids.

You can have penis pie if you want to. No judgement here. 

Let's work on filling, because pie is a delivery vehicle. A delicious, delectable, delivery vehicle. Fruit pie filling is all about the same. A little fruit, a little lemon juice to soften it up, sugar, and a thickener like cornstarch. Mix it all together, boil a bit and you get this sweet cherry sauce. 

A dollop will do it. Seal with another pie crust circle and either close with the edges of a fork, crimp with your fingers, or stamp closed like I did with adorable alphabet letters. Cookie stampers are the bomb. You should definitely get one.


You can spell out ANYTHING. Even curse words. Think of the possibilities. Delicate baked goods adorned with phrases like "I baked this bullshit," and "Eat at Your Own Risk." Sigh. Amazon can be a beautiful thing, friends.

So there you have it. Cherry hand pies.

Whether you are celebrating pie and beer day or just the bounty of the season, I hope you'll choose to party with a pie in one hand and a beer in the other. Happy Pie and Beer Day, friends!


Cherry Hand Pies

For the crust:

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup cold water

1 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. almond extract

For the filling:

1 1/2 cup pitted cherries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch

1 tsp. water


Preheat oven to 425. Toss one cup flour with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. sugar in a bowl. Cut in 2/3 cup shortening until mixture resembles mealy peas. In a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. flour with 1/4 cup cold water and extract. Mix to make a paste and then add to crust mixture. Stir until it follows the fork. Shape into a bowl. Roll out 1/4 inch thick, then cut into shapes.

Boil cherries with sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan on the stove on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Mash with fork, leaving some large chunks of fruit. Mix cornstarch in small bowl with water, then add to boiling fruit. Continue to heat on medium until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add dollop of fruit filling to each cut out crust shape. Top and seal. Crimp edges and cut small incision in top of pie to prevent bubbling. Bake 12-13 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until lightly brown. Cool, then enjoy.

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