I grew up in a family of tremendous home bakers, but I’ll tell you what- there’s nothing you could tell 8 year old Joy to sway her from the indisputable fact that the best pies came dangerously hot, in a precisely folded paper container, filled with apple flavoring in a delightfully crisp crust from McDonald’s. The golden arches, where the cheeseburgers taste like candy in the most perplexing way. The pies, though! The pies were delicious and if I was lucky enough to have one, it meant that I likely also had french fries in my life so… clearly it was the best of days.
I’ll tell you what’s so great about McDonad’s pies. They’re filled with… not exactly apples. They’re filled with what might be considered a spiced apple goop and a few strategic apple (?) pieces. Essentially the pies are just hot apple jelly inside of a pie crust and they were SO GOOD (albeit so hot you were taking your life in your hands with your first bite).
I mention these apple pies because we can do better- and all it takes is good jam and pie crust. This is a recipe from earlier this year that I thought was worth revisiting for summer because we all need a quick dessert that’s as good as our childhood fast food dreams.
Other very important summer pie thoughts:
We’ve talked a lot about pie crust. Incessantly, really.
This recipe starts with a big batch of all-butter pie crust. The same recipe that makes a full pie, top and bottom crust, will make a ew dozen hand pies!
If you’d like a little pie crust confidence, this is for you: Tip to make the best all-butter pie crust from scratch!
Pie crust also freezes well so if you’re making one batch, why not make two and treat yourself to future pies.
Pie crust, rolled to just under 1/4-inch thick. It’ll be thin enough to fold and thick enough to hold a spoonful of jam.
Cut into 3-inch circles with a big ol’ biscuit cutter and a spoonful of jam is dolloped onto one side of the pie crust circle.
Brush lightly with egg wash to help seal the edges of the crust as we fold over a crimp.
Make Ahead Tip: These little pie parcels could be frozen at this stage! Freeze to solid on a lined baking sheet and once they’re frozen through, store them in a freezer-safe bag. Bake from frozen, egg washed, until golden and crisp- likely just 5 minutes longer than the recipe reads.
Brush with egg for browning, sprinkle with sugar and bake to golden!
I added a little slit in the top of each folded hand pie to help vent some of the steam that will come out of the pie.
They’re two-bite pie wonders. Three if you’re feeling dainty, or eating in front of strangers.
The fruit flavor is concentrated and sweet which is why I love to use jam over fresh fruit- all of the liquid that might cook out of the hand pies is already concentrated into a jam center. I love Stonewall Kitchen’s Sour Cherry Jam to fill these pie bites, but you could use any fruit jam that you love. These are great to bag up and bring to a gathering, to gift a friend going on a road trip, to hoard to yourself in your pantry. Do whatcha do, just enjoy!
- For the Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk
- 1 jar of Sour Cherry Jam and/or Wild Blueberry Jam
- 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
- granulated sugar, for topping
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture. Some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes; some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring the dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- On a well-floured surface, roll one of the disks out to a 1/8″-thickness. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut about 10 to 12 circles out of the rolled crust. Place the circles on a plate and place in the refrigerator while you roll out and cut circles from of the second pie crust disk.
- You can re-roll the scraps of pie crust if you’d like. The more you work the crust the tougher it will become, but that's ok for about two rerolls.
- Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- To fill the pies, remove the rounds from the refrigerator and working a few at a time, place about 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each circle. Lightly brush the edge of one side of the crust with egg wash. Fold the crust over. Press gently to seal the jam inside the crust, and use the tines of a fork to press the edges together, sealing well.
- Use a small knife to cut a few vent slits in the top of each semi-circle. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 1-inch apart.
- Repeat with all of the crust circles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes if your dough has warmed substantially. At this stage you can also freeze the pies on the baking sheet until frozen through, about 2 hours. Once frozen through place in an airtight bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Pies can be egg washed and baked from the freezer by adding about 7 minutes to the baking time.
- Brush the tops of the pies lightly with egg was and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven. Place on a wire baking sheet to cool completely before bagging up as gifts.