I like to wake up early on Sunday mornings. Saturday is my day for sleeping in (although it must surely be a sign of getting old when staying in bed past 9am counts as sleeping in). But on Sundays, I’d rather get a head start on the day.
There’s a certain kind of still in the early morning. The road outside our flat is quiet; there’s no noise from any of our neighbours. For the first hour or two, it doesn’t seem like anyone else in the whole world can possibly be awake.\
This is what I think of as a Sunday morning recipe – not necessarily a complicated recipe but one with multiple steps and stages that is best when lazily spread over the expanse of a day. There’s often a great pleasure in these recipes, a sense of satisfaction in the results that the effort has yielded. In winter, stews and braises fulfil this requirement but in summer, where food tends to be quicker and more immediate, there are less of these Sunday morning recipes.
A couple of weeks ago, I was leafing through a magazine on one of said Sunday mornings with a cup of tea and my usual bowl of yoghurt. There was a haziness to the air that promised another hot day and we had no real committments. I hadn’t planned to spend much time in the kitchen beyond our usual Sunday fare but the recipe for blackberry and raspberry hand pies caught my eye. Little squares of pastry, sturdied with creme fraiche and filled with summer fruits. I contemplated ripping it out of the magazine and adding it to the ever-growing pile of recipes that I really do mean to try at some point.
But really, isn’t this the kind of recipe that a summer Sunday morning is made for?
By the time my boyfriend emerged, the pastry was chilling (for the second time). All I had to do was spoon a couple of raspberries into the middle of each rectangle of dough and fold over the pastry. After twenty minutes in the oven, we had little golden brown pockets, filled with sticky jammy fruit.
They weren’t particularly neat or polished. They had rough edges and a couple needed some emergency repairs. I think the word that I’m looking for is ‘rustic’. But they served us well as a late/second breakfast that morning and again, that evening, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to round off the weekend.
Balsamic raspberry hand pies
Lightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2013
Yield: Makes 4
I made a few small changes to the original recipe – first, and most notably, I cut it in half to make 4 pies rather than 8. In retrospect, I should have made a full batch and then kept them in the freezer but you live and learn. I used creme fraiche rather than sour cream in the pastry as it’s what I had on hand and it seemed to work fine. Finally, I could’t find blackberries so just used raspberries in the filling. I added a generous helping of balsamic vinegar and cut down the amount of sugar in the filling so that it had a bit more punch. We really enjoyed them that way but feel free to play around with whatever you prefer.
For the pastry:
- 75g (5/8 cup) white spelt flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 55g (1/2 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1/2 tablespoon creme friache
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 100g (about 3/4 cup) raspberries
- 1/2 – 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, depending on how much tang you like
- 1 tablespoon sugar (add another tablespoon if you like things sweeter than me)
- 1/2 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 beaten egg
- Demerara sugar, to sprinkle on top
Put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of stand mixer. Add the butter and, using the paddle attachment, beat on a low speed for a minute or so until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and there are pea-sized lumps of butter.
Whisk together the creme fraiche, lemon juice and water and gradually add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients until the dough starts to clump together. You can add more water if you need, a little at a time, but I found it was okay without.
Flatten the dough and wrap in cling film. You should still be able to see lumps of butter running through it (hurrah for flaky pastry!). Chill in the fridge for about an hour until just firm.
Roll out the chilled dough on a well floured piece of parchment paper until you have a 7-by-14-inch rectangle (or whatever really, I don’t like to get too hung up on sizes). Chill the flattened dough for another half an hour or so.
To make the filling, combine the raspberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and leave to macerate while you sort out the dough.
Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it so that the long edge is facing you. Cut towards you to make four equal strips – each should be about 3 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long.
Place 3 or 4 raspberries in the centre of the bottom half of each strip of dough. Brush the three open sides with beaten egg and flip over the top half of the pastry to seal. Press the pastry down so that it sticks and trim the edges that you’e stuck together so that they’re neat. At this point, you should have a perfect square of pastry filled with a delicious filling. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll have to do a bit of a repair job and use the egg to stick bits of pastry back together. Either way is fine. Cut a couple of vents in each pie and then freeze the pies for an hour or so until firm.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Brush the pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy at what every temperature you see fit.