Peach Hand Pies

An alternate version of this post originally appeared in Sweet Paul Magazine.

Peach Hand PiesStone fruit season is a special time of year – when plums, nectarines, and peaches call out from farmers market stands and beg to be eaten out of hand with juice dripping down my chin. There really is no substitute for a fresh local peach. So while they are in season, I encourage you to eat as many as you can. And when you’ve had your fill, preserve the rest. Or, as they say, “Eat what you can, and what you can’t, can.”

While I was living in Santa Cruz, California, I worked with Erin Justus Lampel, the talented baker behind Companion Bakeshop, to host a jam making and canning class at the bakery. Bread and jam are an obvious and delicious pairing. I developed a couple of recipes for the class and these Spiced Peach Preserves were my favorite. Simple and straightforward, they take the deliciousness of the peaches and dress them up to taste like pie in a jar. They are sweet and tangy and lightly spiced. Spread them on bread to liven up your morning toast, or use, like I did, as a pie filling to remind you of those glory days of fresh stone fruit season after they have gone.

To make things a little more fun (and to make a little bit of preserves go further), I decided to make hand pies. Traveling as a young photo assistant in the South, hand made hand pies were a seldom and sought after treat at small gas stations along the blue highways. Those little pies were the perfect vessel for an assortment of fruit fillings, and a welcome sweet treat as we continued on our journeys.

I don’t eat wheat or dairy anymore, and I took it as a personal challenge to create a hand pie I would be happy to eat. You can use any basic pie dough recipe to create these pies; for the gluten and dairy free version shown here, see the recipe below:

Hand pie dough
-Yields approximately 10 4-inch pies-

I tested these hand pies with vegetable shortening and duck fat. If you can get your hands on duck fat, I highly recommend it to the alternative. The duck fat pies are tastier, flakier, and more tender.

½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup millet flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup potato starch
½ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons xantham gum
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces (8 Tablespoons) duck fat or vegetable shortening
2 eggs, beaten
2 – 4 Tablespoons ice water
1 ½ – 2 cups Spiced Peach Preserves (recipe below)
1 egg white, beaten
sugar for topping

  1. Sift together all of the dry ingredients.
  2. Using your fingers or a pastry knife, quickly cut fat or shortening into the flour mix until it resembles course sand.
  3. Gently mix eggs into the sandy mixture and form the dough into a ball.
  4. Add 2 to 4 Tablespoons of ice water until the dough comes together and is slightly tacky.
  5. Form dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  7. Divide chilled dough into ten equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, keep the remaining pieces refrigerated.
  8. Form each piece into a flat disk and then roll into a 4 – 5 inch round, leaving the dough about ¼ inch thick.
  9. Spoon 2 -3 Tablespoons of preserves into the center of the round, fold in half and crimp edges. Repeat with remaining pieces.
  10. Brush the tops of each pie with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of each pie to vent steam.
  12. Bake pies on a lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for 10 minutes more.
  13. Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

Spiced Peach Preserves
Spiced Peach Preserves
-Yields approximately 5 8oz jars-

6 cups peeled and chopped peaches
3 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Prepare waterbath canner, jars and lids.
2. Heat all ingredients together in a heavy pan on medium heat until the fruit starts to give up liquid.
3. Turn heat up to high and cook mixture, stirring consistently to prevent burning.
4. Cook preserves until they thicken and test how they gel using the chilled plate test. Do this test by chilling a plate in the refrigerator. Drop the preserves on the chilled plate and see if you can run your finger through them leaving a line in the center of the preserves that doesn’t seep back together. If your line holds, your preserves are ready. If it doesn’t, continue cooking and test again in a few minutes.
5. Remove the preserves from heat and skim off any foam.
6. Ladle the preserves into warm canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims. Apply lids and bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
7. Process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
8. Cool jars and check them for a proper seal.
9. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of the recipes.

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