When peach season arrives, it’s cause for celebration in the South. You’ll find peaches at roadside stands from Georgia to Tennessee. These mini pies are a big part of Southern culture, and they’re perfect for picnics. You can assemble them in advance, freeze them, and bake them whenever you’re ready.
The Flakiest All-Butter Pie Dough
This recipe produces a flavorful, super-tender flaky crust. Look for European-style butter, which has more butterfat and less water than other brands and yields a shatteringly flaky crust. The acidity in the vinegar weakens the gluten just enough to make rolling the crust a breeze, and it also prevents shrinkage when the crust is baked.
The dough can be stored, well wrapped, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer. If it’s been frozen, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
How to Plan Ahead
You can assemble the hand pies in advance and freeze them for up to 1 month. Freeze on the baking sheets until the pies have set, then place them in ziplock bags. Cut the steam vents in the tops before freezing, but don’t brush the pies with the egg wash until after you pull them out of the freezer. Bake directly from the freezer, adding 5 to 8 minutes to the baking time.
Peach Season is Upon Us!
Bourbon Peach Hand Pies
Excerpted from Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.
- For the extra flaky all-butter pie dough
- 2 1/2 cups (313g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) ice water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 pound (227g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- For the filling
- 2 cups (310g) sliced (1/4-inch) fresh peaches (about 5 peaches)
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large (50g) egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of fine sea salt, for egg wash
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Make and chill the dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the water and vinegar.
Toss the pieces of butter in the flour mixture to coat. Then use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. You should have various-sized pieces of butter ranging from coarse sandy patches to flat shaggy pieces to pea-sized chunks, with some larger bits as well.
Drizzle in about half of the ice water mixture and stir lightly with a fork until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add a little more ice water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. The dough will still look a bit shaggy at this point. If you grab a small piece of dough and press it lightly with your hand, it should mostly hold together.
Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough a little at a time, pushing it away from you and working your way down the mass of dough to create flat layers of flour and butter. Then gather the dough back together with a bench scraper, layering the clumps of dough on top of one another.
Repeat the process once or twice more; the dough should still have some big pieces of butter visible.
Cut the dough in half. Shape each piece into a disk and flatten it. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight, to rest.
Remove dough from refrigerator and prepare baking sheets:
If it has been chilled overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before you roll it out.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Roll out and chill the dough:
On a floured surface, roll out each disk of dough into a 10-inch (25 cm) square, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Cut each one into 4 equal squares. Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheets, 4 to a pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, combine the peaches, lemon zest and juice, bourbon, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, flour, and salt and toss to combine.
Fill the hand pies:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and lightly brush the edges of each square with the egg wash. Divide the filling among the squares, using a scant 1/4 cup (59 ml) for each, leaving a 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) border around the edges.
Gently fold each square of dough over to make a triangle and press the edges with your fingers to seal; make sure the filling does not ooze out of the sides. Crimp the edges of each hand pie with your fingers or a fork.
Brush and chill hand pies:
Lightly brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Cut 3 small (about 1/3-inch-long/8 mm) slits for steam vents in the top of each pie. Chill the pies, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours, to set the crust.
Preheat the oven:
Position the racks in the middle and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
Bake the hand pies:
Bake the hand pies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through and switching their positions, until deep golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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