Fig and Honey Hand Pies
Although the technique for making the dough for these little pies is a little unusual—you use a rolling pin to incorporate the butter into the flour before adding ice-cold water to form a dough—the result is a flaky, buttery pastry that’s easy to work with once it comes together. Serve these portable pies with your choice of vanilla bean ice cream or, even better, lightly sweetened whipped cream and mascarpone cheese with some grated lemon zest.
For the dough:
- 4 1/2 cups (22 oz./690 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 2 cups (4 sticks) (1 lb./500 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) ice-cold water
For the filling:
- 4 cups (1 1/4 lb./625 g) fresh or thawed frozen figs
- 1 Tbs. honey, or to taste
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 Tbs. heavy cream
- Demerera sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Measure the flour out onto a large work surface and spread it into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches (25 by 38 cm). Sprinkle the sugar across the flour, then evenly sprinkle the butter cubes across the surface of the flour and use your fingers to toss the cubes so that they are lightly coated with the flour.
Using a rolling pin, roll the butter until you have lots of long, thin strips of butter surrounded by flour. Using a bench scraper, gather and fold the sides and top of the pile toward the center to form a rectangle of the original size. Repeat the process of rolling out the butter into strips and collecting the butter and flour together two or three more times, until you have a flaky pile of butter and flour.
Gather the flour into a mound in the center of your work surface and make a small well in the center. Stir the salt into the water. Pour 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the water into the well and, using a bench scraper, fold the flour into the water to combine. Add more water a few teaspoons at a time, continuing to mix and fold, just until the dough comes together in a shaggy mass; you may not need all of the water.
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle with a short side facing you, then fold it into thirds like a business letter, folding the top down and the bottom up. Rotate the rectangle 90 degrees and repeat the process twice more, rolling it out and folding it into thirds. You should now have a cohesive shaggy rectangle of dough. Wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and place it on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough, rotating the dough frequently to ensure it doesn’t stick to the work surface, until it is a rectangle about 3/16 inch (6 mm) thick.
Using a 6-inch (15-cm) round cutter or a paring knife, cut out 6-inch rounds from the dough, gathering and rerolling the scraps as necessary. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, put the figs in a large bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Taste and stir in the honey until the mixture reaches your desired sweetness.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream.
To assemble the hand pies, spoon some of the fig mixture into the center of each dough round, leaving about 1/2 inch (12 mm) around the edge of the circle uncovered. Fold each dough round in half, pressing out as much air as possible. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the dough together to seal. Transfer the rounds, still on the parchment-lined baking sheets, to the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
Remove the pies from the freezer and, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of each pie with the egg wash. Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut 3 small slits in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle the pies lightly with Demerara sugar.
Bake the pies, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees about halfway through the cooking time, until the pies are a rich golden brown all over and well colored on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pies to wire racks to let cool slightly, then serve warm. Makes about 16 hand pies.
Recipe by Laurie Ellen Pellicano, pastry chef and consultant at Haven’s Kitchen, New York City