While the strawberries on the roof deck have flowered and there are tiny berries if you look closely, strawberry season is still a month away at least. But I’ve always aimed to maintain flexibility when it comes to seasonal, local eating, and sometimes, you just need some strawberries. What I’m saying is: for dessert at the first Blogstar Sunday Supper, I couldn’t bear to make an apple dessert because it’s April and I’m just ready for spring foods. So I made strawberry hand pies.
In my mind, they were going to be adorable and perfectly made––expertly fluted envelopes of jammy strawberry sweetness. My sophistication and baking prowess would plainly be in evidence, all the bloggers in attendance would declare me a baking genius, and I would become an underground baking legend and then the regular kind of baking legend. Baking legends are a thing, right?
In reality, the whole wheat dough was on the brittle side (though still buttery and delicious), and the hand pies came out looking very…rustic (and a tad soggy). Alack. But hand pies are meant to be a fleeting pleasure, made to be eaten quickly, dripping juice down your arms. So they weren’t fancy or perfect, but they were real, and that’s what matters.
Luckily, all the bloggers in attendance graciously raved about my humble efforts. Feeding people can be personal, so I was relieved and happy that they liked them.
The hand pies aside, we had a fantastic time with a wonderful wine tasting from Pasanella and Sons, and meats, cheeses, breads, and munchies from Murray’s Cheese Shop and BKLYN Larder. As we left, each blogger received a personalized gift bag from Wantist, and body care products from Malin & Goetz. The supper was a fantastic experience––it was thrilling to spend the evening with so many powerhouse bloggers and entrepreneurs, and to meet and connect with some of the friends I’ve made online. Finally, I am so thankful to know and work with Sarah Bryden-Brown. She’s totally my fairy blogmother. Thanks Sarah!
A note on the recipe: to feed a crowd I made my hand pies smaller, but have given the recipe for full-sized pies.
Strawberry Basil Hand Pies
makes approximately 12 large pies
for the crust (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
16 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water, or more if needed
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and sea salt to combine. Slice to butter into little bits, and pulse into the flour mixture. Combine the water and sour cream, drizzle over the flour mixture, and pulse just until the dough forms a rough ball (though it’s less flaky, I often make a wetter dough since it’s much easier to work with–you can always add flour as you roll out the dough). Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface, gather into a ball, divide in two, wrap tightly, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
for the filling (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups strawberries, stems trimmed and cut into quarters
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the basil leaves for 30 seconds, remove from water with a slotted spoon, and pat dry. Cut into thin ribbons.
In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and basil. Set aside.
to assemble the pies
1 egg white, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling on each pie
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut one of the dough rounds into thirds. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 10 – 12” oval. To make the first two pies, cut the oval in half, and use a slotted spoon to pile 1/3 cup filling onto one half of each semi-circle. Quickly brush the edges with the egg white, and fold over, pressing each into a turnover shape. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat for each pie.
Before placing in the oven, brush the top of each pie with the egg white, and sprinkle with sugar. Then, using a sharp paring knife, make two 1/2″ slits in the top of each pie.
Place pies in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the dough is a light golden brown, and the juice is bubbling out.
Cool for 5 minutes, and then carefully place on a rack to cool completely. Serve as is, or with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Update: I stand corrected! New York, my sources tell me that strawberries have arrived at the Greenmarket! Strawberries for all!