I know this sounds like hyperbole, but these fried strawberry hand pies are truly extraordinary, and that’s hardly a surprise. We’re talking fried dough here, peeps, of course they are amazing. And fried dough filled with lightly sweetened berries and a hefty dusting of confectioners’ sugar? I mean, duh, you will basically lose your mind when you eat these. I had been planning on making baked hand pies for at least a year now, an I have finally done so, but the idea of making fried hand pies came to me quite recently when I stumbled upon on a hand pie recipe in Huffington Post.
Now, I wish I could tell you what internet search led me to stumble upon fried pies (ie: what I was actually looking for), but I can’t recall. What I can tell you, however, is that I became obsessed, leading me to spend copious amounts of time surfing the web for fried pie recipes, folklore, gossip, etc., and that’s where things get interesting. The internet is bereft of fried pie scoops. Why, you ask? I haven’t a clue, and having now made fried pies and eaten kind of a lot, I am truly flummoxed.
Yes, I found a Food Network apple hand pie recipe and this fried fruit pie by the Pioneer Woman, and maybe one or two more of that ilk, but none of my go-to bloggers — those that I check in with whenever researching a new treat, if not on a daily basis — had even touched a fried hand pie with a ten foot pole. They had explored baked ones, but nary a fried pie in sight. Now, perhaps this is because all my baking peeps are watching their girlish figures and can’t wrap their minds around frying pie? I’m not sure. One recipe from Shrinking Kitchen did lure me me in with its promise of fried hand pies, only to pull a fast one and instruct me to bake them (and there was much bragging about the calories and fat saved by doing so). Um . . . no.
So I’d consider myself pretty lucky, if I were you, getting a recipe and all that for fried pies. And I certainly hope I am starting a trend of sorts. One thing I will tell you is that I kind of feel like I may have invented the “cropie.” Dominick Ansel has his cronut (a donut/croissant hybrid) and I have my cropie (a pie/croissant hybrid). No, my pie dough is not laminated, so I am taking some liberties here, but the flaky layers of my off the charts flaky pie dough with vodka – redux once fried? Words escape me. Please just go make these, and then tell me about it. I am hoping I can move the masses here, people, one fried-hand-pie-eater at a time.
Fried Strawberry Hand Pies
Fort the pie dough
- 2 1/4 cup 2 Tbsp pastry flour (see note)
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 sticks 16 Tbsps high-fat, salted butter, cold
- 2 Tbsp vodka ice cold
- 2 Tbsp cold water
For the strawberry filling
- 3 cups strawberries washed, hulled, and chopped
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp arrowroot
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp heavy cream
- Several cups of vegetable oil
- Confectioners' sugar
To make the crust
To make the pie dough
- Whisk the pastry flour and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Slice each stick of butter into about 12 pieces. Toss the butter into the flour and place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes. Combine the vodka and water and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the freezer and dump the contents on to the counter. Using a rolling pin, flatten/smear the butter into the flour (I recommend using a rolling pin to fraisage the dough, rather than the palm of the hand, as hands can get awfully toasty and melt the butter). Your goal is sheets of butter, crumbly bits of butter/flour and almost no loose flour (this is important, otherwise the dough is too dry and it is hard to roll out later). Use a bench scraper to move the dough around as you work, periodically bringing it all back into a pile in front of you. Break up any large-ish sheets of butter with your fingers so all the butter bits are (relatively) uniformly shaped.
- Once your pile consists of butter sheets and crumbly dough, sprinkle a little of the vodka/water mixture over your pile, and use your hands to gently incorporate the liquid into the flour and butter (I kind of toss the dough around in my hands and move it around a bit on the counter with the bench scraper). Continue sprinkling and incorporating until the dough is uniformly crumbly, damp, and flour-y — about 4 sprinkles in total. Don't be afraid to spend some time here tossing the dough with your fingers to really help the flour absorb the liquid (but don't overwork the dough by kneading it, etc). Form the dough into a ball (as best you can) and transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to mold the dough into a disc. Wrap it tightly and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Lightly flour a work surface, remove the disc from the fridge, and place it on the surface. Flour the top of the disc and let it rest on the counter until it softens a bit — about 10 minutes, or so (a little rest keeps the edges from cracking). Now, using your rolling pin (and your fingers, if necessary) begin rolling/molding the dough into the shape of a rectangle. It will come together as you work — even if the edges crack. If it is not cracking, but is instead extra sticky, sprinkle extra flour on the disc and your work surface to combat the stickiness. Once in the shape of a rectangle, take one of the ends of the rectangle and fold it a little more than halfway across the rectangle towards its other end. Then take the other end and fold that over the first (as if you are folding a long and skinny "business" letter). This first fold you make might be made with dough that is both sticky in places and crumbly in others, but that's ok.
- Once the dough is folded, roll it out again into a rectangle (re-flouring beneath it and on top, if necessary), and fold up the ends, like a letter, for a second time. Repeat this one or two more times (3 to 4 times in total). By the third time, your dough should have transformed into something much more pliable and easier to work with. Cut the final rectangle in half, form each half into a disc, tightly wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
- Remove one disc from the refrigerator, roll it out, generously flouring your work surface as you go. Ideally, you want a 12 by 12-inch square of rolled out dough (so you can cut twelve 4-inch squares from it) but I didn't have that sized square exactly, and ended up doing some re-rolling of scraps to get the number I needed. Use a paring knife (and a ruler) to cut twelve 4-inch squares from the dough. repeat with the remaining disc and place all 24 squares on two parchment-lined baking sheets in the fridge.
to make the filling
- Combine the strawberries, granulated sugar, arrowroot, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
- Prepare the egg wash by combining the egg and cream in a small bowl and whisking. Remove the dough squares from the fridge and brush half of them with the egg wash. Place about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of drained filling in the center of an egg-washed square (try to spoon up mostly fruit, as opposed to fruit and juice — if you put too much filling in your hand pies, they will leak). Cover with an un-egg-washed square, and using your fingers, press around the edges of the square and create a seal. Using the tines of a fork, make a decorative pattern around the edges, further securing the two halves together.
- Place the finished pie on one of the lined baking sheets and continue assembling pies until you have run out of dough. You may have extra strawberry filling left over. Place the sheet in the refrigerator for about an hour. I think the chilled pies are slightly easier to handle and move into the hot oil.
- Meanwhile, fill a large, heavy pot with at least 2" of oil, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and heat the oil on medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 370-375 degrees, or a bit above (the temperature will drop when you add your pies, but while frying, you want your temperature to stay at 370ish).
- Line a cooling rack with paper towels, and place it near your pot.
- Once the oil is at temp, transfer about two pies at a time to the hot oil. Fry the pies for about 3 to 4 minutes, and using tongs, gently flip the pie over and continue to fry for 3 to 4 minutes more. When both sides are done (you will know by the color — they should be nicely browned and puffy), Carefully transfer the pies to the prepared cooling rack with the tongs. Depending on the size of your pot and your patience level, you may fry two pies at a time, or more. I fried two at a time to avoid crowding, but this takes a while. You can also use a deep fryer.
- Let the pies cool slightly on the paper towel lined racks. generously dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm.