I have a bunch of lard burning a hole in my freezer. It’s tempting me with the promise of sweet flaky things and taking up valuable real estate for potential ice cream. (Which is how I think about all freezers, always: in units of ice cream.) So let’s use it up!
These pies mark my first venture into baking with lard, and I was definitely impressed. The raw dough has a worrying slightly piggy taste, but the only evidence of lard in the final product is a beautifully flaky crust with shatteringly crisp layers. We use half lard for texture and half butter for flavor, plus a bit of yogurt to hold the dough together and give it some stretch for easier filling.
This is a dessert for people who look at double-crust pie and think that there’s still too much filling getting in the way of the perfect crust experience. It reverses the usual crust-to-filling ratio, which means that the hidden jewel of fruit in the middle has to hold its own. For me, peaches are the heavyweights of summer’s delicious offerings, and we add not only bright and beautiful blueberries but also whiskey, cinnamon, and lemon. Each mini pie only has a little bit of filling, but it bursts with summer goodness. And the sweet, jammy filling surrounded by lots of flaky crust… it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Peach-blueberry hand pies
These mini pies combine a flaky golden crust with the best of summer’s fresh fruit. They travel well, making them perfect for taking along to a picnic beside a lake with a gorgeous view of the Chicago skyline (yeah, it was pretty great). But if you don’t think you can share them, I won’t tell.
Yield: 15 4-inch circles or 30 2-inch half-moons
2 ½ c. flour
½ t. salt
4 oz. butter, cold and cubed
4 oz. lard, cold and cubed
¼ c. plain full-fat yogurt
2 t. lemon juice
½ c. ice-cold water
2 medium peaches
1 pint blueberries
1/3 c. sugar
2 t. lemon juice
2 t. whiskey
¼ t. cinnamon
Egg for washing
Mix together the flour and salt for the crust. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter and lard into the flour mixture until the fat pieces are about the size of almonds. Stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, and water, then mix gently into the flour until just combined. Wrap the dough and cool it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cut a second sheet of paper for layering. Using a large round cookie cutter or the top of a glass, cut out as many circles as you can, placing them on your cookie sheet. When you run out of space, put the second sheet of parchment paper on top and keep going. Return the dough to the fridge and cool for 30 minutes.
As the dough cools, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the filling. Peel and chop your peaches—we’re looking for pieces no bigger than a blueberry for consistency. Mix the fruits with the sugar, lemon juice, whiskey, cinnamon, and salt.
When your dough is chilled, fill a small dish with water to help you seal the hand pies. You have two options for shapes here: circles and half-moons. To make circles, place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the middle of one circle, leaving a generous quarter inch around the edge. Dip your finger in the water and wet the border all the way around, then top with another circle and press the edges together. To make half-moons, use only about a teaspoon of filling and fold the circle in half around the filling instead of topping it with another piece of dough. Don’t overfill your pies! If your filling is squirting out all over the place, use a little less.
Fill all of the circles however your heart desires and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Beat an egg in a small dish and use a pastry brush to top the pies with the egg. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar.
Bake the pies for 45-55 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crispy. These pies are best the day they’re baked but will be delicious for a few days if you pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 to regain their crispiness.