Flaky pastry envelopes vanilla almond pastry cream, apple butter, and a fresh apple slice, to make individual hand pies that are flaky, creamy, and sweetly flavored with apple and spice.
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
- 3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 2 tsp cold water
- 1 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
FOR THE PASTRY:
- 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1-inch pieces
FOR THE HAND PIES:
MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:
- In a small dish, stir the gelatin and water together to combine. There should be just enough water to moisten the gelatin, creating a thick paste. Set aside.
- Add milk, sugar, salt, egg yolks and cornstarch to a medium size heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, at which point the mixture will have thickened to the point that the whisk will leave tracks as you stir. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds longer. Pour into a bowl.
- Break the gelatin into small pieces, dropping them into the hot pastry cream. Whisk until the gelatin is completely incorporated, about 20 seconds. Whisk in vanilla and almond extracts. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap over the surface of the pastry cream, and punch a few holes in the surface of the wrap with a sharp knife. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
MAKE THE PASTRY:
- Add the sour cream, apple cider vinegar, and ice water to a measuring cup and stir to combine.
- Add the flour, salt, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour and pulse 5 or 6 times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea sized pieces of butter scattered throughout.
- Pour the sour cream mixture into the bowl, and pulse just until the dough begins to come together. Dump the mixture into a large bowl and gently squeeze together with your hands just until it forms a cohesive dough; do not not overwork the dough.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE HAND PIES:
- Peel and core the apple and cut it into thin slices no more than a 1/4-inch thick. Put the apple slices in a bowl and toss with the teaspoon of lemon juice to prevent browning.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Working with half the dough at a time, roll the dough out to an 1/8-inch thickness on a floured work surface. This is a sticky dough; flour the surface of the dough and the work surface as necessary to keep it from sticking. Using a large 3 & 1/2 to 4 & 1/2-inch round pastry cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. (Can also use a wide rimmed drinking glass.)
- Put about 2 tsp of pastry cream in the center of each circle of dough, spreading it out slightly but not getting it too close to the edges of the dough. Top the pastry cream with about 2 tsp of apple butter and 1 slice of apple. Fold the dough over the filling to form a half moon shape and press the edges together gently with your fingers. Lay the pie on the parchment covered baking sheet and press the edges together with the tongs of a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining pies and dough, re-rolling the scraps of dough, until you have approximately 18-20 pies.
- Cover the pies loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and teaspoon of milk. Remove the pies from the refrigerator and use a sharp knife to cut three slits in the top crust of each pie. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the pies with the egg mixture. Sprinkle each generously with sugar.
- Bake the pies for 28-32 minutes, turning the sheet around in the oven about halfway through baking, until the crust is golden and you can see the filling bubbling through the slits in the pies.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Store leftover pies in the refrigerator.