I am a sucker for Puff Pastry. Growing up in India, Puff Pastry stuffed with minced meat or Potatoes and Peas, Patties, as they were called, were a regular tea time treat. The Patty, which was such a childhood treat for me became a distant memory living in the US, until a friend introduced me to frozen Puff Pastry sheets. Those were magical. Using these, I could introduce my kids to Patties which I never could have done otherwise. The Potato/Pea Patty has quickly become a lunch favorite for them.
Puff Pastry aside, India in the 70s and 80s wasn’t exactly a paradise as far as Western style desserts go. Apart from some basic cake and Patties, there was little to choose from. Little did I know that there is more than one type of pastry dough.As I grew older and traveled, I realized that that Puff Pastry is one of many kinds of Pastry doughs that are used to great effect in Western baking. Since I don’t do too much baking (the missus more than makes up it), pastry dough has been somewhat of a grey zone for me.
However, this changed recently. One afternoon on the Elliptical, while watching an episode of “Mind of a Chef” I found myself salivating. The episode with Chef Sean Brock talked about making Hand Pies with Peach Preserves. The pastry looked really easy to make and what really got me thinking was a comment that Chef Brock made about the crust. He said that it was almost like a Puff Pastry. That’s it. Done. Sold. I got off the machine, walked over to my wife and announced – “I’m making Hand Pies”.
The recipe was really easy. I used Strawberry Jam, Walnuts and Raisins, Pecans and Cranberries and Potatoes and Peas, as various fillings and they all turned out to be uniformly good. The kicker was that even though it was technically not Puff Pastry, it was a pretty good substitute. As easy and delicious as this was, I am tempted to do a fusion version of this. Pastry Gujhias anyone?
INGREDIENTS (for about 16 small i.e. 5 inch discs)
2 cups All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 cup Unsalted Butter (cut into small cubes about 1/2 inch side)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
Ice cold water
1 beaten egg
Sugar to sprinkle
1. Mix the dry ingredients.
2. Add the butter and working quickly smash the butter with your hands into the dry ingredients.
3. Add just enough water that a ball forms. DO NOT overwork the dough. You want the pastry to be crumbly.
4. Cover with cling wrap and store in a fridge for an hour.
5. Cut a small piece of the dough using a knife and on a floured surface roll it out about 1/8″-1/4″ thickness.
6. Using a lid or a round container “cut out” discs of appropriate size.
7. Using the egg wash, go all the way around the circumference.
8. Fill your filling of choice, fold over.
9. Put an egg wash on top(be generous with the egg wash) and if it is a sweet Hand Pie, sprinkle sugar on top.
10. Stick in a preheated 425F oven till it browns (about 18 mins) and you are done.