Who can resist a cookbook with the name “When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries From Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes”?
I certainly couldn’t, and since I already loved author Cathy Barrow’s “Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies,” I thought, why not.
Barrow also is the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving,” so we know she’s into creative names for her cookbooks, but she’s also great with recipe creation.
In her latest, we get the whole gamut of recipes that can be used for appetizers, breakfasts, snacks and main meals, including Cheeseburger Hand Pies, Crisped Kale and Baked Egg Tart, Classic Potato Knishes, Thanksgiving-in-a-Bite Pie Poppers and Philly Cheesesteak Galette (galettes are free-form, open-in-the-center pies without a pie pan that can be savory or sweet).
Barrow, who also writes the “Bring It” food column for The Washington Post, says she wanted to make her latest book super appealing, mining international flavors that make up her everyday cooking.
“Lamb Vindaloo Pie became the catalyst for developing one of the crusts,” she says. “I like the way lamb vindaloo pairs with oniony naan. I ended up developing a caramelized onion crust. You never know where your pie is going to lead you.”
But one place pies will take you, Barrow says, is joyfulness.
“Make a pie,” she says. “Everyone loves a pie.”
The following recipes are from “When Pies Fly.”
Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Hand Pies
Makes 12 pies.
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 recipes All-Butter Pie Dough, formed into square blocks (see recipe below)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
2 tablespoons milk, cold
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place a Baking Steel, baking stone or inverted baking sheet on the center rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Stir the brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Add the melted butter, and stir until the filling is thick and no longer powdery.
Remove one block of dough from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough to an approximate 11-inch square, cut into 12 (3 1/2- to 4 1/2-inch) rectangles, and vent half of them.
Add a packed 1/4 cup filling to one rectangle, and form a hand pie with a second (vented) rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet and firmly fork-crimp the edges. Brush the surface with egg wash.
Continue to make the remaining pies. Refrigerate or freeze while repeating the process with the other block of pie dough to make a total of 12 hand pies.
Bake the pies for 30 to 35 minutes, until deeply golden brown. If you prefer to bake the two sheet pans at the same time, switch their position from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the bake.
Freeze unfrosted hand pies (baked or unbaked) for up to 3 months.
Whisk the milk and vanilla together, and then whisk into the powdered sugar until smooth and very thick. If it isn’t coming together, dribble in the tiniest amount of milk. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Transfer to a pastry bag, and squiggle the frosting across the surface of each pie. (Or use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the surface, inside the crimped edges.)
Garnish enthusiastically with plenty of sparkling sugar. Let the frosting set up, about 30 minutes, before serving.
Blackberry Peach Galette
Makes 8 servings.
1 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough, formed in a disk (see recipe below)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 (2-inch) swaths lime zest, removed with a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped into 1-inch cubes
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water and 1/4 teaspoon kosher)
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly.
Roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, and place on the baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate while making the filling.
Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, lime zest and lime juice together in a large bowl. Gently fold in the peaches and mint, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Cover with plastic wrap, and let the filling sit for 1 hour on the counter.
Remove and discard the mint sprigs and lime zest. Gently stir in the blackberries, so they aren’t crushed.
Scatter the breadcrumbs across the center of the dough round, leaving a 2-inch border. Lift the fruit out of the bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving all the juices behind, and place in the center of the dough round. Reserve the juices. Scatter the butter over the top of the fruit.
Lift the outside edges of the dough, and pull them up and slightly over the filling, leaving the center exposed. Work your way around the galette, folding the dough over on itself and forming a series of pleats that make a snug little package.
The center of the galette should be open, but there also should be a very distinct crusty edge to hold in the filling.
Brush the galette with the egg wash, and sprinkle sparkling sugar generously over the surface.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Place a Baking Steel, baking stone or inverted baking sheet on the center rack and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pour the reserved juices into the center of the galette. Slide the baking sheet with the galette onto the hot stone, steel or sheet, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deeply golden brown.
Cool for an hour or more before serving. Try a little scoop of crème fraîche on the side.
All-Butter Pie Dough
Makes 1 recipe pie dough.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and frozen for 20 minutes
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup ice water
Put the flour, butter and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Move the bowl to the food processor base, insert the metal blade, cover, and use the pulse function to cut the flour and butter into flour-covered pea-sized pieces, about 15 quick pulses.
Add the ice water all at once, and process until the dough almost comes together in a ball. All the flour will be dampened, and the dough will clump.
Spend time on this next step because the more compact and precise the dough, the easier it is to roll to the correct size and thickness. Form an X with two long pieces of overlapping plastic wrap and lightly flour the surface.
Dump the dough onto the center of the plastic wrap, scraping the processor bowl clean. Wrap the sloppy gathering of dough in the plastic and, at the same time, use a bench scraper (not your warm hands that might melt the butter clumps) to form the dough into a 4-inch disk or a 3 1/2-by-3 1/2-inch block.
Once wrapped, use a rolling pin to gently press across the surface of the dough, then flip it over and do the same on the other side.
Now let it rest: Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. Alternatively, slip the plastic-wrapped dough block into a ziptop bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost gently, overnight in the refrigerator.
Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald-Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.