On May 13, Nothing is More American – Or More Delicious — Thanks to Lard-Infused Flaky Crust
Gastronomically speaking, this Friday the 13th figures to be a lucky day, marking as it does the observance of National Apple Day. After all, who doesn’t love a fresh-from-the-oven apple pie?
Now, thanks to a new recipe from Greg Hozinsky, Coast Packing Company’s Corporate Chef, that kind of bliss (and the attendant aromas that make apple pie such a multi-sensory treat) can be wafting through your kitchen in no time.
“I love hand pies,” Chef Greg says. “They’re easy to eat and great for kids. In this recipe we slice the apples thinly to maximize the fill inside each hand pie, giving a perfect bite of flaky pie crust and sweet spiced apples. Try this recipe and I promise you won’t be disappointed!”
Here are Chef’s step-by-step instructions for hand pies you can bake – and then devour.
- 3 cups AP flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 6 ounces pork lard (very cold)
- 2 ounces unsalted butter (very cold)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 5 ½ Tbsp ice water
- 1 each, whole egg
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
For the apple filling
- 3 pounds Granny Smith apples (or a mix of your favorite baking apples)
- 1 cup turbinado cane sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
To make the pie crust, start with cold ingredients. You don’t want the fat to melt; you want to keep nice, big pieces as you build your dough. “I even like to put my pork lard and butter in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before I start,” he says. “On a hot day, it doesn’t hurt to even refrigerate the flour. I like using my hands and a pastry cutter when making the dough, but you can also do this recipe with two forks or even a food processor, by pulsing the dough.”
Make sure not to overwork the dough; you want it to be flaky and tender. The more you work it, the more gluten develops, resulting in a tough pie crust, which no one really likes.
Forming the crust
- For the pie crust, mix together the dry ingredients flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add cold pork lard and butter. Pre-dice so the ingredients can be mixed into the dough more evenly. Using a pastry cutter, work the fat into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse cornmeal; the dough should include pea-sized chunks of lard and butter. You’ll know the mixture is ready when the dough holds together as you squeeze it in your hand.
- Next, add the vinegar to ice cold water along with one whole egg. Combine, and then add to the flour/lard mixture. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently work the liquid into the flour mixture until it’s even and starting to take form. Remember not to over-mix.
- Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. With your fingers lightly coated with flour, form the dough into a big ball; you might have to work it slightly until it all comes together. Cut the dough in half and form into two round 1 ½ inch thick disks; wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Preparing the filling
- Peel and core all the apples. To do so, it’s easiest to quarter the apple then lay it flat on one side. Use a paring knife to cut out the core and the seeds, trimming any leftover apple skins you might have missed when peeling.
- When the apples are peeled, cored and quartered, slice the apples thin — about 1/8 of an inch using a mandolin slicer or knife.
- When all your apples are cut, toss them gently in the lemon juice.
- Mix together turbinado sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the apples in 2-3 rounds, gently tossing with your hands each time to make sure they are coated evenly.
- Transfer apples to a baking dish; top with diced up butter. Bake in a 425-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until cooked but ensure that the apples still have some firmness. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Building the hand pies
- To build the hand pies, remove the pie dough from the refrigerator. Let the dough temper for about 5-10 minutes.
- On a clean work surface, dust area with flour, then dust the top of the dough with flour. Use a rolling pin also dusted with just a little flour and roll the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. When you do this, turn the dough often, adding flour as needed to both the top and bottom to prevent sticking. Don’t be afraid to use your hand to piece together any cracking areas. You’ll be cutting these into circles so the shape doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Once the dough is rolled out, use a paring knife and a bowl with a 6-inch diameter to cut the pie crust. Re-form any dough scraps and re-roll to get more crust.
- Once you have cut the rounds, gently brush half the edge of each crust with egg wash, to help create a good seal.
- Place about 2 – 2 ½ ounces of filing in the center of each crust, then fold over onto the egg-washed edge. Use the tines of a folk to seal the crust and create a decorative look.
- Brush the top of each hand pie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Use your paring knife to cut three slices into the top of each pie so steam can escape.
- Bake in the middle rack of a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Think ala mode! Hand pies are great on their own, as a treat on the go… or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.