I don’t know about you and in ‘your neck of the woods’ but up here in the Pacific Northwest, cherries have been coming in like gangbusters! I can’t count the number of friends that have approached me with offers to take pounds of cherries off their hands. I hated having to turn many of them away, simply because I didn’t want to waste any, given my time constraints. In the end however, I did manage to take several pounds of cherries from a friend, all so I could try my hand at baking homemade cherry hand pies!
Full disclosure, I had never made a cherry pie using freshly picked cherries, so you can picture my elation when I finally came to grips with the reality that I would FINALLY be doing just that!
I initially wanted to just make a straight and simple, double-crust, 9-inch cherry pie. Nothing crazy or complex. Then I remembered, the ‘Pocket Pie Crimper’ I had purchased several weeks back for making hand pies. What an excellent opportunity to put it to good work, I thought.
The recipe I used was from THE SEASIDE BAKER
Cherry Pie Filling
Naturally, since I’ve never made a cherry pie with fresh cherries, I’ve never had the dubious experience of pitting cherries either.
The single-pitting, cherry pitters didn’t appeal to me at all, with the two monster bags of cherries sitting before me. I knew I would need something a bit more robust and efficient at pitting within a reasonable amount of time. I wasn’t in a rush to make the cherry hand pies, but I certainly didn’t want to be pitting cherries all day either!
Once the cherries were skillfully pitted, I dumped them into the saucepan over medium heat, added a bit of water and let the heat do its work.
My sugar/cornstarch mix was already whisked and sitting to the side, waiting for its moment.
The MAGIC MOMENT came once the sugar and cornstarch were dumped in and mixed thoroughly. Only when the juices started thickening and bubbling up did it dawn on me that I had just now, created homemade cherry pie filling.
I instantly took a spoon to it. It was piping hot with a dark but enticing color and a strong sweet aroma. The cherries were still completely whole. I cautiously took a taste, not wanting to burn my face off. It was good! No! Not just good, but AMAZING! I wish I could have taken a photo of my face at just that moment. Not only ecstatic at the wonderful taste of the filling but even more-so at the fact that I had taken freshly-picked cherries, all the way from the tree to the pie and the final result blew away my expectations.
Cherry Hand Pies
Putting it all together at the end is where I ran into some trouble. And not from neglecting any one part of the recipe I was following, but more self-inflicted. Let me explain.
The steps were pretty simple. Roll out my pie pastry (made the night before), and using a small saucer dish, cut out circular pieces of pie dough. Then take these, place them in the pie-crimper, spoon in a portion of cherry pie filling, and fold over, firmly crimping the edges. Place on the pan, brush lightly with egg-wash and toss into the pre-heated oven. Easy-peasey.
First off, I got greedy! The cherry pie filling was sooooo good that just placing a small spoonful in, just seemed so inadequate? So what did I do? I pushed the ‘envelope’ so-to-speak, piling it in. This would prove disastrous later.
Next, when folding over the hand pies, some of them burst. Why?! (please see above). The ones that were successfully folded over, I didn’t press hard enough down on the pie crimper and so, they too burst from the seams. It was a disaster upon disaster. But I learned very quickly after my first few and ‘right-sided’ the ship! In no time I was churning out some good looking cherry hand pies and tossing into the oven.
Think, golden brown, mini cherry hand pies, with a rich buttery aroma, steam still piping through seams in the crust. Molten cherry pie filling oozing onto the parchment paper.
It took everything I had to resist snatching one up and biting into, knowing full-well I would have to be immediately ferried to the Emergency Room for third-degree burns! LOL! But once I had given them ample time to cool, the wait was all worth it.
The crust was a perfect thickness, buttery and flaky as anticipated. The pie filling was amazing. I preferred the ones with the ‘over-loaded’ pie filling portions, but these were a bit messy. I made note of it, to figure out how to fill these cherry hand pies to the max without exploding in the oven. It was a challenge I would be oh-so-happy to undertake.
In the end, it was a resounding success. There were definitely some things I would do next go-round to improve the process and the presentation, but the cat’s out of the bag now. More hand pies are definitely on the way! Continue to check back!