“You know– like those pies you get at gas stations!” -my friend’s husband trying to describe this pie.
I will take it upon myself to assume he meant like a tiny homemade hand pie he gets when he’s in Maine each summer stitched together by an old lobster-fisherman’s widow, as opposed to the shelf-stable Hostess brand pies sold at the local BP. Either way, they’re tasty and convenient, so I’ll take it as a compliment.
Hand pies are funny. Like grown up pop-tarts, you can eat them in the car (hence the gas station popularity), and they certainly don’t get the credit they deserve. In the same way I prefer a slab pie’s filling to crust ratio, a hand pie satisfies my need for buttery flakiness with every bite. They’re a little less fussy than a traditional pie, and you can hand them out to friends without the need for a plastic container to keep in the leaking fruit filling.
As most….gas station treats are (?), these hand pies were born out of necessity. A need to use up some ripe nectarines sitting on my countertop and a desire to make a seasonal fruit dessert. I will admit, I have had glimmers of Autumnal Desire hit me here and there recently. The allure of apple season (which I’m almost as obsessed with as sweet corn season…), the smell of a cinnamon candle, crunchy leaves, you know the drill. It flies through your head in an attempt to wish away the current season, and look forward to the next. However, in an attempt to carpe diem the end of summer (which I really do love), I pushed my Basic desires down and forged ahead with a fruit pie. Savoring stone fruits with every single OUNCE of my being until they are replaced with apples. Then all bets are off. Someone grab my Uggs.
These little pies are fairly easy to make and if you don’t want to fuss with homemade crust you could totally swap a store bought. I like Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust in a pinch, and I try to keep a box in my freezer for spontaneous pie needs.
Nectarine & Black Raspberry Hand Pies
makes 6 hand pies*
1 Double Crust Pie recipe: I have yet to figure out a pie crust method that I want to call my own, so until that day comes, I’ll point you to America’s Test Kitchen’s Foolproof Pie Dough or Martha’s Perfect Pie Crust
3 ripe nectarines, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 C black raspberry seedless jam
4 sprigs of Lemon Thyme (or German thyme works too)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
For the crust: roll out one half of the pie dough into a 9×9 inch square. Cut evenly into 6 squares, set on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with parchment. Repeat with the other half of the pie dough, cutting out a vent hole on top (I used a small heart cookie cutter but you can just use a knife to slice them open) set prepared top squares on top of parchment and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Stick in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 400F. In a small saucepan, heat the black raspberry jam, lemon juice and thyme over medium heat until the jam softens and it just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and let thyme steep in the jam for 15 minutes. Remove thyme twigs and transfer jam to small bowl. Set aside.
Slice the nectarines and place into small bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt and let macerate for 10-15 minutes. Add cornstarch and toss to coat evenly.
Prepare your station! Pull pie dough squares out of the fridge, and get ready to assemble. Using a spoon, add 1-2 tsp of jam mixture to 1/2 of the pie dough squares. Using your hands (it’s just easier) place a small mound of nectarines on top of jam, leaving a half inch to 3/4 inch border around all sides. Brush border lightly with egg and place top square (with cutout) on top, pressing lightly on the edges to seal. Take a fork and press down on all sides to REALLY seal. Once you’re done, brush the tops of each pie with remaining egg and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.
Bake on large parchment lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through cooking time, until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Enjoy in the car! On the go! Anywhere you care to bring a pie.
*6 pies assumes you actually think about math before going ahead and cutting your dough. I awkwardly only got 5 when I made this, but could easily get 6 and I actually prefer the slightly smaller size. If you have scraps, you can combine and re-roll once without compromising the dough too much.