Much of the world refers to ‘hand pies’ as meat pies or pasties which trace their origins back to at least 19th century England. At that time they were a convenient lunch for the Cornish tin miners. The pastry casing was a good way to keep the filling warm and free from dirt. The miners would hold the edges, eat the filling and discard the dough when they were done.
Various countries tend to differ in their crusts for hand pies. Some are lighter and flakier, like a puff pastry or yeasted almost like bread. Others use margarine rather than butter, which will give a different texture and flavor. We live in a world of portable food so what could be more versatile than a hand pie. Once you have the pastry made, fillings can be any number of choices be it sweet or savory. Make a large batch and freeze them unbaked so you can bake when needed. Here are a few things I have learned over the years that make the process fail proof:
- Fillings should be soft and moist but not wet otherwise you end up with a soggy crust.
- Chop veggies and other ingredients into small dice so they cook evenly and quickly.
- Always par-cook veggies and other filling ingredients so both pastry and filling are finished baking at the same time.
- Allow filling to cool slightly to room temperature to prevent softening the dough.
- Don’t be tempted to overfill hand pies and risk bursting at the seams.
- To strengthen the seal, brush with water or one egg white mixed with one tablespoon of water.
- For best results, freeze the unbaked hand pies for 20 minutes before baking.
- You can freeze the unbaked pies for up to three months, then bake right from the freezer giving them 5-10 minutes extra time in the oven.
I never pass up a chance to enjoy mangoes in any form. Hopefully you will get a chance to try these.