Strawberry Hand Pies


Yesterday at work, I had one of the sweetest, juiciest, most flavourful strawberries that I have ever had in my life. Small little local beauties with the stem on, bright red all the way through, and just...unbelievable, really. 

I guess I'm so used to the strawberries at the grocery store - white on the inside, kind of bland, a bit sour. Strawberries can kind of be the boring berry when compared to more flavourful ones like raspberries. But if all strawberries were like the ones I had yesterday, no one would be thinking of them as a boring berry.


I wish we had used the strawberries for a big pie - like these or maybe strawberry balsamic or strawberry rhubarb. Unfortunately, there were not enough strawberries to make a whole pie, let alone the two pies that we needed to make. 

So, instead, I made a strawberry banana bread with a good dose of vanilla bean. If you're interested, I used the Pecan Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread recipe, cut out the chocolate and nuts, and added strawberries and vanilla paste. I used as many strawberries as I could and about a tablespoon of vanilla paste (but keep in mind I quintupled the recipe to make 24 mini loaves). 


Eating that strawberry also brought me back to when I was a kid and my dad had a garden in our backyard. We grew green beans, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, and strawberries. 

I remember digging through the dirt for potatoes, eating green beans right off the plant, pulling up the carrots by the leafy tops, and the smell of the zucchini flowers. I remember the little tiny strawberries that we grew, most of which were eaten by slugs. I remember how sweet and delicious those were. No need to fuss with them or make anything special with them - they were special as they were because we grew them ourselves.

I didn't like vegetables much as a kid, but it seemed different when you grew it in your own backyard, when you saw and tasted the products of your hard work and effort. My dad did all the weeding, tending, and watering in the garden, so I got to enjoy the products of his hard work, but it was still special. I don't know if I appreciated it then, but I certainly do now.


I look back on that garden with fond memories, though that could be because I did zero work and still reaped the rewards. Even still, I daydream about one day having a house with a nice little backyard and a garden where I will grow a few veggies and some strawberries. 

I will dig through the dirt for potatoes, eat green beans off the plant, pull up carrots by their tops, and smell zucchini flowers. And I will probably have slugs eat my strawberries. 

Even though I know absolutely nothing about gardening.


Thanks for having that garden, Dad.

Thanks for always being there when I needed someone to talk to. 

Thanks for giving me honest advice when I needed it and just listening when I needed it. 

Thanks for your terrible jokes and teaching me swear words in other languages. 

Thanks for everything, really. 

Thanks for being you.

Happy Father's Day.


Strawberry Hand Pies

Pie Crust

175 g pastry flour
50 g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
113 g unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
30 g vegetable shortening, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
57 g water, ice cold
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Filling

330 strawberries, hulled and quartered
35 g sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 g vanilla paste

Starch water

1 tablespoon cornstarch
250 g cold water

Egg wash
100 g coarse sugar



For the pie crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer. Add the cold butter and shortening and mix on low speed until the mixture look shaggy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than peas. Stop the mixer and check the size of the butter, sifting through the mixture with your hands. If you find bigger chunks, smear them between your fingers.

Put the ice-cold water and vinegar into a measuring cup and stir to combine. Add the water-vinegar  to the flour-fat mixture on low speed and mix briefly with a few rotations of the paddle, but do not let the dough come together.

Turn off the mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your hand. The dough should come together in a clump. If it’s too dry, add a little more water a few teaspoons at a time. 

Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a flat circle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla paste in a bowl. Stir to combine and let sit for half an hour to macerate.

Unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick. Use a 3 inch round cutter or the size of your choice to cut out an even amount of circles. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.

Drain the strawberries of the juices (reserve the juice for flavouring drinks if you want). Have your starch water, egg wash, and coarse sugar ready at hand. 

Take the pie crust rounds out of the fridge. Using a pastry brush, brush the borders of one circle with starch water. Place a few quarters of strawberries in the center. Take a second pie crust round and gently stretch it a little out using your fingertips. Place over top the strawberries and line it up with the bottom circle. Press the edges together with a fork. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Repeat with all your pie crust rounds. Once you have finished, refrigerate them for 20 minutes. 

When you are ready to bake them, evenly space them on a baking sheet and brush them with your egg wash. Liberally sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut a few small vents in the top of the hand pies.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Enjoy!
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