Smoke from wildfires up north caused a gray haze to sink over the fields and pastures of my grandparents' farm. Dark blue rain clouds slowly gathered on the edge of the horizon during the afternoon of tractor repairs and garden surveying. When the wind grew stale and the air pressure dropped, we brushed the dust off the bottoms of our jeans and headed indoors.
We gathered around the dining room table as we always do; it's the heart of the home. My grandfather opened the windows to let in the rapidly cooling air, turning on a fan to circulate the air through the old farmhouse. My grandmother settled over the stove, frying up sausages for an early dinner. My father opened the newspaper, the room filling with the periodic sound of his page turning. I shuffled through a deck of cards, laying out a new game of solitaire.
We lived in this comfortable silence, taking in the earthly scent of the downpour and the browning of the meat in alternating breaths. This moment embodied the slow living of country life; no television or radio in the background, no electronics to take us away from the reality of moment. Instead, we listened to the music of 4:30 pm—the sound of a lid arranged on a pot, of rain hitting the windowpane, of the eight of clubs placed on the nine of hearts.
I wish I could put this song on repeat.
In the heat of the summer, it would be a shame to ignore the abundance of fresh, in season fruit. I have embraced the fruit perhaps too much; my kitchen is currently stocked with a mixture of honeydew, watermelon, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, dark cherries, and plums. In attempts to use up the fruit before it expires, I have baked them into cakes and crumbles (and eaten it straight with a fork).
My favorite iteration so far are these dark cherry hand pies. While full-sized pies are both stunning and delicious, this season calls for more convenient fare. Hand pies require no knives, forks, or messy plates, making them ideal to serve at parties, picnics, and afternoon snacks. Dark cherries are so sweet and ripe this time of year; I recommend buying a pound to eat and a pound to bake.
Cherry Hand Pies are a sweet, well portioned dessert to bring to events to share. The dark cherries are complemented by a touch of cinnamon and a spoonful of lemon juice, which bring a strong, balanced flavor to the bite-sized pastries. As a note, if you choose to use sour cherries in this recipe, you will need to add more sugar. Taste the filling as you go for best results.
One Year Ago: Plum Almond Galette
Two Years Ago: Nutella Espresso Rolls and Brownie Cookies
Three Years Ago: Mango Coconut Popsicles, French Silk Pie, and Blackberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Four Years Ago: Plum Clafouti
Five Years Ago: Grilled Peaches
Cherry Hand Pies
Yields 1 dozen
1 recipe double crust pie dough
1 pound (16 ounces or 450 grams) fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Milk, for brushing
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the pitted and quartered cherries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon until the cherries are evenly coated. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough into an 11 by 16-inch rectangle between 1/4 and 1/8-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter (and a ruler to guide) cut out 5-inch squares. You should get six squares. Use leftover dough to fill in areas where the dough tears or more dough is needed near an edge.
Place a spoonful of cherry filling in the center of each square. Avoid overfilling the squares or they will not seal properly. Using a finger, brush water around the dough square to help seal in the fruit. Fold over the dough to form a triangle (keep the nicest edge on the top of the fold for best appearance) and use a fork to press down the edges. Brush each square with milk and sprinkle on granulated sugar for additional sweetness. Use a knife to cut several steam holes in the top of each pie. Repeat process for second half of the pie dough.
Bake the hand pies for 35-40 minutes, or until fruit is steaming and pastry is browned. If the crust browns too quickly, cover the edges of each pie (or the entire pan) with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. This will likely only occur with all-shortening pie dough.