Rustic Cranberry Apple Handpies

Prepare yourself. This recipe is a no-self-control recipe. The kind where I had two handpies before noon and had to talk myself off the ledge about eating another before dinner. You can’t eat just one. I seriously dare you. And if you have that kind of self control, I just don’t understand you on the deep human level I’d like to. These are everything I want a handpie to be… The crust is perfectly flakey and bronzed…the filling dips its’ toes in both tart and sweet waters…and the sprinkle of sparkling sugar…oh how I love sparkling sugar. That crunch is beyond compare.

I am the first person to admit that I’m a work in progress. I tell it to my kids all the time and basically anyone that will listen. I try my best and then I shrug and move on. I absolutely love taking photos of food but I’m seriously a blind lady in the dark, feeling my way through the process, hoping that things are gonna turn out ok. I love to photograph things in the morning…I’m talking the wee dawn hours. I prep stuff the night before, wake up at 5am, finish baking or putting my set-up together and snap photos when the sun first creeps into my favorite window. Most of the time I absolutely love the light and other times that light gives the photo a blueish tinge. Which I kinda just went with, but it bugged me. Today was a major paradigm shift as I SERIOUSLY just figured out how to lessen that blueness in photos and I feel like I just got a whole new lease on life. So you’re looking at them…the photos where I learned this. And I’m pretty excited. This is exciting, right?

It’s been a pretty crazy week on the ranchette. One of my chickens went missing this past weekend…just gone. I got a call from my neighbor yesterday and she thought she spied my chicken out and about and she HAD. My girl had been out on the streets for FIVE SOLID DAYS. I found her with major Lady & The Tramp vibes, all tattered and torn up, feathers missing and her rump was bare. When I brought her home Whitey, who is seriously the biggest asshole in the animal kingdom, just terrorized her. Pecked at her, chased her. And I just thought, I hate assholes. And then I took the whole thing personal and sequestered Whitey to a part of the coop where she couldn’t hang with the chickens. Whitey is the kind of chicken that walks around completely entitled…like she owns the land. I don’t know if this all sounds as dramatic as it was, but it was.

And then I had one last thought to share that has zero to do with anything else we’ve covered today, but it’s about grocery shopping. I know, fasten your seatbelts. When I do a big shopping trip I hit Costco and Trader Joe’s like it’s my job. And then I usually shove in a regular grocery store as well, to pick up everything I couldn’t get at the other two places. I did this all in Santa Barbara last week. And when I came home that day I was exhausted. I mean dead wiped out. It took me HOURS to put everything away and make it organized (which I actually did this time). But you would have thought I traveled to Bangladesh and back to get my groceries. And then I wondered why I don’t carry on when I go to Santa Maria and do the same shopping trip? Same distance. I think. But when I go to Santa Maria, I just run up to Santa Maria real quick. When I go to Santa Barbara, in which you have to drive over a big hill, I act like I got the horses and buggy out. It doesn’t mean anything other than my thought process is completely illogical. Any local Santa Ynez Valley people agree with me??

#PieSquad

I did this post in collaboration with a bunch of other superrrr talented bloggers and pie babes. In awe of their mad pie skills. Some of the links aren’t live yet…come back in a bit and they will be. Thank you to Nate (TermiNatetor Kitchen) for organizing!! If you’re looking on social media, use the hashtag #piesquad to see more! xo

Cloudy Kitchen | Chocolate Cream Pie With Whipped Peanut Butter Cream

Cook Til Delicious | Pear Cranberry Frangipane Tart

The Farmer’s Daughter | Apple Ginger Pie

Feed The Swimmers | Apple and Persimmon Pie with Bourbon Caramel and Hazelnuts

Harvest and Honey | Apple Apple Pies

Lyndsey Eden  | Maple Cream Cheese Pear & Pistachio Galette

Salvialimone | Tarta Tine with White Chocolate Caramelized Pears

TermiNatetor Kitchen | Brown Butter Chai Pumpkin Pie with Sugared Sage

Topless Baker | Apple & Blackberry Flower Lattice Pie

Up Close & Tasty | Chocolate Mousse Pie with Oreo Crust

The Wood and Spoon | Chocolate Chess Pie

Before We Get Started:

  • Shortening. I use vegetable shortening in my crust. There. I said it. And I’m proud of it. I love the texture it lends to the crust. It’s just a wee bit and so worth it. If you’re an all-butter purist I get your jam, but I’m asking you to take this lady for a test drive. Flakey, that’s all I’ll say. Just lots of flakes.
  • The Crust. This is my favorite pie crust to use and I would be hugely remiss if I didn’t give America’s Test Kitchen heaps of credit for schooling me on the advantages of vodka in pie crust. I have tested this same dough with all water, apple cider vinegar…I even tried rice wine vinegar (because I like its’ delicate flavor) and nothing worked as well as vodka in keeping the crust light. I’ve read a fair amount lately of people saying that the advantage of using vodka in a pie crust is minimal and to them I say, hogwash. Or maybe chicken shit would be more appropriate for this post? …One last note…if the humidity is low you may need a touch more liquid. Add no more than 1 teaspoon of ice cold water at a time, as needed, to get it to hold together.
  • Chilling Your Dough. I get impatient too. And when I start a recipe I want to work it all the way through without starting and stopping. But you must chill your dough. Not only to chill up that butter so it stays in nice chunks throughout your dough (thereby giving you some nice flakes), but it will also give your dough time to breath and relax. If you start to roll out your dough and it keeps springing back on you it means it needs more relaxation time. The gluten is just too excited. Don’t fight it. Put the dough back in the fridge to rest a wee more. I prefer an overnight rest because I love make-ahead stuff and I know my dough will be ready to roll the next day. Did you catch that pun right there?
  • Make Ahead. Both the dough and filling can be made (should be made?) ahead of time…I’m talking by a day or two. You want your cranberry sauce to be 100% cool before you put it in your pie dough. Additionally you can make the pies all the way up to stuffing + crimping and freeze them in a single layer before wrapping tightly to bake another time. When ready to bake, pop the frozen pies in a pre-heated oven and tack on extra bake time to make sure they’re cooked through. You may need to tent with foil to keep them from getting George Hamilton bronze.
  • Rolling + Cutting. I’m going to give you specifics on rolling your dough, but I encourage you to work on instinct. If there is someone out there that can roll a perfect rectangle with dough I don’t want to meet them. Just do your best…we’re going for rustic vibes. Same goes for cutting your rectangles…don’t strive for perfection, just make it happen.

Let’s make some handpies, shall we?

Rustic Cran-Apple Handpies

 

Makes Eight 4 1/2-inch X 2-inch Hand Pies

INGREDIENTS

For the Filling

  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tangerine, juice + zest
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 medium apple, cored + finely diced (this is added right before baking)

For the Crust

  • 1/4 cup vodka, cold
  • 1/3 cup water, cold
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk

To Finish

  • Sparkling Sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Filling

  1. To a medium saucepan add the cranberries, tangerine zest + juice, water, sugar, five spice and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Continue at a rolling boil for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Take out 2 tablespoons of liquid from the cranberry sauce and place it in a small heat-safe bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and then stir the cornstarch mixture back into the cranberry sauce. Continue at a rolling boil for 5 minutes more and then remove from the heat. Let cool and then put in the fridge until ready to assemble the pies. This must be completely chilled before assembling the pies.

For the Pie Crust

  1. Mix together the water + vodka in a cup and set in the freezer. In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt until combined. Scatter the butter + shortening around the bowl using a pastry blender or your hands to work it into the flour until large pea-sized chunks of butter and shortening start to form. Don’t over mix. Drizzle the vodka-water liquid over the top of the flour mixture and press with the back of a spatula bringing the dough together. Get in their with your hands to gently press the dough together.
  2. Lay two pieces of plastic wrap out on the counter, divide the dough between the two, shape into flat discs, wrap tightly and chill for at least 1 hour.

To Assemble the Hand Pies

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  2. Remove your dough from the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes. Working with one dough round at a time, on a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle of ¼ inch thickness. Cut the dough into eight, equal-size rectangles (mine were about 4 1/2 inches by 2 inches).
  3. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling on four of the dough rectangles, leaving a ½ inch border. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of finely chopped apple over the cranberry filling. Lightly moisten the border of each pie and match up the edges with a clean dough rectangle and use the tines of a fork to press down and crimp. Cut several slashes on top of each pie to vent.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with remaining pie dough.
  5. Place the uncooked pies on the prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk + cream. Lightly brush the egg wash over the pies and sprinkling with the sparkling sugar. Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. Let cool before serving. I write this last sentence but I ate my first one still warm. I highly recommend you do the same.
  7. Thank you so much for making these handpies! I hope you love them. Please tag me #displacedhousewife @displacedhousewife so that I can see your glorious handpies!
On My Mind
  1. I feel like I should rename this section ‘Random Thoughts’ because I’m starting with this one… Has anyone watched Three Billboards? Are we all watching Riverdale? Any binge recommendations? I feel like I need some new ones…
  2. Why tho would anyone change the Nutella recipe? I discovered Nutella when we first moved to China. I would walk around our apartment eating spoonfuls while Gavin napped, looking out the windows at everyone rushing by on bikes and wondering where the hell I’d landed. I can’t imagine any reason that anyone would need to rejigger perfection.
  3. I love a good goop read…this one is on how daydreaming is good for us. I knew it.
  4. PS I’m thinking I talked too much about my chickens and the photos are still blue…such is life.
  5. OK…I think I’ll leave you with all this. I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve done a long post with thoughts and feelings and things that are crowding my mind. So thanks for being here. Sending you heaps of love + light.

Rebecca xoxo

 

 

32 Comments

  • kate | tasty seasons 2017/11/21 at 6:38 PM

    so, recognizing that advice coming from someone who doesn’t have chickens to someone who does is a little bit of a problematic framework, when i went to a “how to raise backyard chickens” class (because, oh how i would love to have chickens!), they said that blue kote is really helpful in situations exactly like you’re describing. just thought i would throw that out there, in case it might be helpful. and regardless, i hope your whole flock is healthy soon! xo!

    Reply
  • Natalie 2017/11/20 at 9:40 AM

    These look so good! I love apples and cranberries together ♥

    Reply
  • Asha Shivakumar 2017/11/14 at 2:34 AM

    I love making handpies and these look simply amazing. Hilarious post and pretty pictures. Gosh, I would be addicted to these.

    Reply
  • Kate 2017/11/13 at 3:22 AM

    these are adorable, okay!!?!???

    Reply
  • Nathaniel Crawford 2017/11/11 at 4:37 PM

    I love handpies so much! These are absolutely adorable, Rebecca! Thanks for participating in the collab. :)

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/12 at 1:57 AM

      Me too!!! Thank you so much for including me — I had a great time!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Erin Clarkson 2017/11/11 at 2:28 PM

    Yummmm these look amazing! Hand pies are my absolute fave!
    Hope your hen is feeling better v soon! xx

    Reply
  • Laura | Tutti Dolci 2017/11/11 at 3:19 AM

    These beauties are hand pie perfection and I’m all about that vodka crust too!

    Reply
  • silvia 2017/11/10 at 9:19 PM

    I totaly understand you about shot prep and crazy times for shooting!
    Your photos are stunning !
    xx

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/12 at 1:59 AM

      Thank you Silvia for the sweet words! It was fun doing this with you all!! xo

      Reply
  • Christine | What do you crave? 2017/11/10 at 5:39 PM

    OMG your poor chicken!! Glad you found her! And these look dreamy btw, I love hand pies and I seriously need to roll up my sleeves and try these out!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 6:22 PM

      It was so sad!!!! She’s damaged, for sure. :( …come up and we’ll make them together!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Lyndsey Eden 2017/11/10 at 4:19 PM

    my mom swears by shortening too…I think of next crust i am going to have to try some shortening…i have always stuck to butter but i hear wonderful things about the other side haha these sound so delicious and look so so lovely Rebecca!!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 6:24 PM

      Your mom is a genius!! ;) I would love to hear what you think of pie crust made with it!! Email/DM me when you try it!!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Karen @ Seasonal Cravings 2017/11/10 at 11:39 AM

    Do tell us all your photography secrets! Can’t believe you take photos so early in the morning. These things look dangerously good and I am obsessed with all things cranberry right now!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 2:36 PM

      Hi Karen! I don’t know that I have many secrets — I would share anything with you!! …I like to get some work done before I take my kids to school…I know, it’s a wee crazy. And ME TOO — I can’t get enough of the cranberries!! xo

      Reply
  • Fatimah 2017/11/10 at 10:52 AM

    these look crazy amazing! i love your photos and recognize them right away even on pinterest lol i’ve been having the same dilemmas though like of course we all do but i can’t seem to get this food photo stuff! also i think you did the right thing with whitey she was clearly doing too much haha

    p.s ditto to what adam and ryan said! xo

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 2:34 PM

      Why thanks my dear — for all of it!!! So many kind words…I appreciate it! And yep, Whitey is a massive jerk!!! Sending lots of love!! xo

      Reply
  • Adam & Ryan 2017/11/10 at 4:46 AM

    Our favorite thing about reading your blog (besides the gorgeous photos and literally flawless recipes) is that we feel like you’re talking to us when we’re reading. We can hear every word in your voice. Sending hugs and love! (And we’re making these handpies next time we hang out…)

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 6:14 AM

      Yesss!!! I would love that!!! Thanks you guys!!! xox

      Reply
  • Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen 2017/11/10 at 4:06 AM

    I can tell by your gorgeous photos that these are crazy addictive Rebecca! I would have had a hard time stopping at two! I can’t wait to make a batch and share with friends! Another hilarious post! Thanks for the recipe and the laughs!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 6:13 AM

      I’m glad I have people coming over tomorrow because otherwise I might eat them all myself!!! xox

      Reply
  • Lanelle Neumann 2017/11/10 at 3:36 AM

    I’ve been looking for the perfect pie crust! I can’t wait to try the vodka in my pie crust and maybe a little sip too!

    Reply
  • Ramona Puckett 2017/11/10 at 3:09 AM

    How did you know I am fixing to make pie crusts this weekend? It must have been the vibes! These hand pies look delicious and I will make them! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 3:19 AM

      ‘Tis the season, right?!?! I’m making a larger version of this to share…I think next week on Instagram. I hope you enjoy them and have fun baking!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Joshua 2017/11/10 at 2:22 AM

    Wow, these look really great! I can’t wait to try the recipe. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek 2017/11/10 at 12:52 AM

    Love these! I’m ready for the addictive hand pies. Also, I adore reading about your adventures in photo editing and dramatic happenings on that ranchette. xoxo

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2017/11/10 at 1:34 AM

      Why thanks sweet lady! Have a wonderful evening!! xoxo

      Reply

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