Last summer, I learned to love rhubarb. Always unsure of what to do with the celery-like stalk, I had passed it by at the grocery store for weeks. But when I finally tried it— in pie, in jam, in lemonade— it was delicious. Rhubarb has a special sweet-tart flavor that’s like nothing else for me. At the end of the season, I made some rhubarb jam and tucked it away in my fridge for the winter.
I’m happy to say that I just polished off my last can of jam about a month ago, and I’m already seeing rhubarb in the markets again. I picked some up to make strawberry rhubarb pie.
But can I tell you a secret? For a person who so loves to bake, I don’t actually own a lot of baking equipment. A few pans, spoons, spatulas, measuring cups, whisks and mixing bowls. That’s about it. I recently upgraded from one simple metal baking sheet to two. Not a single pie dish in sight. This kind of minimalism is necessary when you’re living in a small apartment, but it does limit your options.
I usually grab a disposable pie tin when I have an important pie to bake. (See this recipe.) But this time I didn’t want to grab a flimsy foil tin. I also wanted something that would look just as gorgeous as the traditional slice of lattice-top pie, with half the effort and mess. And bonus points if I could take it to-go.
These hand pies are pretty, and they pack up pretty well. Whether in your lunch box, for a long car trip, or a picnic. And as a person who loves pie crust, this is the perfect crust-to-filling ratio for me.
I’d made hand pies once before this recipe, and they turned out okay. But these? They turned out amazingly well. The key is to start with good filling and good crust, but also to roll out your pie crust super super thin as it will puff in the oven. Not overfilling the pies helps prevent leaking, too.
Start with some fresh chopped strawberries.
Toss the strawberries in a pan with some rhubarb. Add sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Let the mixture simmer for five minutes, so the fruit releases its juices and softens. Whisk in a little flour, and let the mixture thicken until it’s jam-like. Add a little butter before removing it from the heat.
The texture may look unappealing at this point, but the color should be dreamy. Have faith. This is the stuff great pies are made of.
Let it cool, or even chill in the fridge.
Meanwhile, make a pie crust, all butter. Lots of butter.
You can always buy some puff pastry instead, but I’m all about making the crusts from scratch for the best texture.
Roll the pie crust out super thin, far thinner than you would for an actual pie. Cut out a half dozen 3-inch circles of dough. Put them on some parchment.
Put a few tablespoons (2-3) of your now-cool filling in the center of each pie. You’ll want to leave about a half inch of dough along the edges.
Roll out another sheet of dough, cut out circles, and make small vents in the center of each one.
Brush the outer edges of each filled crust with some egg wash. Gently press a top crust onto each one, pressing the edges closed. Crimp the edges with a fork.
And bake! It’s 25-30 minutes at 350 F. You’re looking for your finished pies to turn an even golden brown.
Your pies will come out of the oven beautifully golden brown and crispy-edged.
Some of your pies may leak, and that is okay. I love seeing the filling run out here and there, since it’s a gorgeous pink hue. Rustic.
Serve these as soon as they cool down, or pack them up for later. I like these with a glass of lemonade.
Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies
For the pie crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
- 2-4 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the filling:
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb (1/2-inch cubes)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- lemon juice / zest of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 egg
- granulated sugar
- Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips, until the dough takes on a crumb-like texture, and the largest bits of butter are pea-sized.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water. Gently fold the flour in and knead with your hands until all the water is absorbed.
- Slowly add more water until all of the flour is incorporated, and the dough comes together. (It will still be somewhat crumbly.) Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pie filling. Put the chopped strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a small saucepan. Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Put the pan over medium-low heat and allow the mixture to come to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Simmer 5 minutes, until the fruit begins to break down and release its liquid, and all of the sugar is dissolved. Add the flour, stirring well, and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes, until the mixture thickens considerably. If it thickens too much, thin it out with a little more lemon juice. The filling should be jam-like. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out half of the dough until it is very thin— around 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter or glass (I used a mason jar ring). Make 6 circles, re-rolling scraps if necessary. Transfer them, evenly spaced, to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Add a dollop (2-3 tablespoons) of the completely cool filling to each circle, leaving 1/2 inch of room on all sides.
- Roll out the other half of the dough. Cut out 6 more circles, and cut a small “x” in the center of each one with a knife— this will act as a vent.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Use egg wash around the edges of the bottom crusts. Gently place a second circle of dough over the top. Press the edges down, pushing any air out of the pies. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake at 350 F for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool before serving.
Cooled hand pies may be stored in a tupperware container or jar in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.