Consider the Pop-Tart or the Hot Pocket. MSG and preservatives aside, these portable childhood treats offered delicious freedom. Do you know what it’s like to be halfway down the street to your friend’s house before the Pop-Tart is even out of its shiny silver wrapper, summer heat already settling heavy on your freckled shoulders? Can you remember flopping across the couch, swimsuit still damp, and burning your mouth on a hot gush of red sauce because you couldn’t wait one more second for your microwaved pizza pastry to cool?
There are people who make hobbies out of recreating processed nostalgic stacks with better ingredients and techniques. With all respect to such endeavors, these strawberry-lemon hand pies are not a replica or even homage to store-bought sweets. Rather, they attempt to pack a classic summer dessert into a portable, hand-sized half moon. They turn an after-dinner indulgence into an anytime treat. They give you another excuse to eat pie.
Jewel-colored strawberries—oozy and jammy and sweet—make a perfect foil to buttery, flaky pie crust. Eat these hand pies warm. Eat them on the go. Grab them with a friend and a cup of coffee for breakfast (no judgment here) or pack them on a picnic. What they do share with the Hot Pocket and the Pop-Tart is the promise of all presents: inside, something wonderful waits.
Strawberry-Lemon Hand Pies
Yield: 14 small pies
2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
14 Tbs. cold butter, cubed
10–12 Tbs. ice water
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Tbs. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. For best results, chill mixing bowl and flour ahead of time. Stir flour and 1 tsp. salt together; cut butter into flour mixture, working quickly to avoid warming the butter. When the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger lumps, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. Divide the dough in half and form two thick disks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour. Meanwhile, prepare your filling.
2. Bring sliced strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, ¼ tsp. salt, and lemon juice to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and let filling cool completely.
3. Working in batches, roll each chilled disk of pie dough out on a floured work surface into a large circle about 1/8-in. thick. Use a large cookie cutter or a bowl to cut 5-inch circles out of the dough. Gather scraps, re-roll to 1/8-in. thick again, and use your template to cut more rounds. Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate while you roll out the other batch. You should get approximately 7 dough rounds from each disk.
4. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spoon 1–2 Tbs. of filling into the center of each dough circle and then fold dough over the filling to form a half moon, pressing and crimping to seal.
5. Brush each pie with the beaten egg wash, and then use a paring knife to cut slits across the top for venting. Sprinkle pies with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until deep golden brown and puffed. Let cool slightly before serving, or store in a sealed container at room temperature.