Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong: challenge #12

bakealong-logoWelcome to our July bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Blueberry Hand Pies, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Have you ever baked a pie? I hope so! There’s nothing quite so brag-worthy (and delicious, of course) as a beautiful home-baked pie. But once you cut into it and start serving — well, with the perfect amount of thickening in the filling, and a bit of luck, you can cut Instagram-worthy slices. But one wrong move, and you have disaster on a plate. Enter the Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong, our July recipe challenge.

So what’s a hand pie? Think of it as a turnover with four sides. Rather than the traditional rectangle of classic pie crust pastry topped with filling and folded into a triangle (a.k.a. turnover), a hand pie has the filling tucked inside a square packet of pastry. It’s easy to pack and tote to a picnic or potluck, and looks pretty on a plate.

Our Blueberry Hand Pies feature a rich, easy-to-make crust, tender and flavorful thanks to both butter and sour cream.  Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

The filling is simplicity itself: blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice, with a bit of thickener. With fresh blueberries flooding the market right now, hand pies are the sweetest little single-serve dessert you could ever put together.

Fresh blueberries are at their peak: Take the Blueberry Hand Pies #bakealong challenge. Click To Tweet

Let’s do a step-by-step walk-through of this month’s Bakealong challenge. By the time we’re done, you’ll be ready to bake (and share) your own Blueberry Hand Pies.

Make the pastry

First, make the pastry. Gather these ingredients:

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold sour cream

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Cut the cold butter into small cubes or thin pats. A baker’s bench knife is ideal for this task.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Work the butter in, but leave most of it in large, pea-sized pieces. You’ll have a coarse, crumbly mixture.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflourv

Add the sour cream, and stir until the mixture starts to come together in chunks.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Turn it out onto a floured work surface

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour… and bring it together with a few quick kneads.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Pat the dough into a rough log. Roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Give the dough a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Make the filling

Gather the following ingredients:

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel*
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

*For frozen berries, use 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1 1/2 tablespoons ClearJel.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

If you’re using fresh berries, rinse and drain well. Place fresh or frozen berries in a saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch or ClearJel with the sugar, and pour over the berries. Add the salt and lemon juice, stirring to combine.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Place the saucepan on a burner set to medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the small amount of liquid in the bottom of the pan comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked berries to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. It’s fine to make the filling ahead of time, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Assemble the hand pies

Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square. With a straight edge and pastry wheel, or a 3 1/2″ square cutter, cut out sixteen 3 1/2″ squares.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each; a slightly heaped tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Whisk 1 large egg until frothy. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Use a knife to cut a vent into each of the remaining eight squares; or use a decorative cutter of your choice — stars are nice, especially at this time of year.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflourTop each filled square with a vented square, and press along the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.

Note: If at any time during assembly the pies become sticky and hard to work with, simply refrigerate them for about 20 minutes, until firm.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg …

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

… and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. The sugar’s a nice touch: it adds both flavor and crunch.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflourBake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven.

Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the pies cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Store pies, lightly wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage (if they last that long!).

Baking gluten-free?

We’ve got you covered! See our recipe for Gluten-Free Blueberry Hand Pies.

High-altitude adjustments

Do you bake at altitude? Check out our high-altitude baking tips.

Take the Blueberry Hand Pies Bakealong challenge!

Are you ready to take the challenge? Follow this post on your tablet or laptop, or print the recipe. And when you’re done, remember to post your photos, tagged #bakealong. We’re looking forward to seeing your beautiful hand pies!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Ashley P

    Made these beauties this morning! What an amazing dough – so flakey and tender! I used a 50/50 mix of blueberries and strawberries I had in the fridge, and they came out delicious. I will make this over and over again!

    Reply
    1. Rozanne

      PJ, when a baking recipe calls for salt are you using table salt of kosher salt? I recently went to a baking class and the instructor said to always use kosher salt.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Our recipes are written for table salt, Rozanne, so if you want to use kosher salt instead, you’ll want to use a bit more — 1 heaping teaspoon for every teaspoon should do the trick. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Margaret, other bakers have reported success using a food processor to mix this dough. If you choose to give this a try, take special care not to overdo it when you’re cutting in the butter, thus losing the desirable, large, pea-sized pieces or when adding the sour cream, resulting in a gummy, tough crust rather than a light and flaky one. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  2. MaryK

    Can you suggest some non-fruit fillings, maybe something cinnamon sugary or chocolate? I love fruit fillings, but my family members don’t.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, how about using the cinnamon/brown sugar filling in this recipe as a base filling? You could add a bit of chopped chocolate or nuts on top too. With a filling that’s not designed for this recipe, we’d also suggest sticking with slits for vents, rather than large cutouts. Hope this helps and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  3. Marjie

    Made two batches of dough night of July 3rd, then got up early July 4th and made a double batch of filling, adding the zest of the lemon.

    I made a 14-inch square out of parchment with the grid pencilled in. The pattern made the rolling and cutting more efficient for me. The grid allowed me to score the dough with a bench knife before cutting. (I know: fussy).

    I cut my stars out of the tops, gave them a little spin, then glued them back on with egg wash, all before placing the entire top onto the blueberries. Still a little leaky, but overall fine. Next time I’ll just make the slits in the top.

    I was really delighted to be able to present these at a Fourth of July party. Everyone loved them. Even heard “you MADE these?”.

    Reply
    1. Donna Lambert

      I’d like to suggest that you draw your grid on the back of a larger piece of parchment.
      A pencil line will show through to the right side.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes Barb, feel free to use a non-dairy sour cream to make the pastry if you’d like. We’ve found that they tend to behave similarly in baking. You could even use a plain soy-based yogurt as well, if that’s easier for you to find. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. CC

    Hi PJ! if I use frozen blueberries, do I need to thaw and drain them first? They might be too watery if not? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi CC, if you’re using frozen berries, you don’t need to thaw and drain them first. Just rinse them under cold water to remove any ice chunks and drain briefly while you prepare the dough. For frozen berries, you’ll want to use slightly more thickener (2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1 1/2 tablespoons ClearJel) to compensate for the extra liquid that frozen berries will release. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Jan S.

    Any changes in the recipe if I use fresh peaches instead of blueberries? I would dice them up the size of blueberries, but they may be juicier. I would love to make several different hand pies with different fillings 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re right that some fruits are juicier than others, Jan, so you may need to adjust the amount of thickener used up or down to compensate. Fortunately, our Pie Thickener Ingredient Guide is here to get you headed in the right direction. Hope it helps! Mollie@KAF

    2. Beth

      I just made a peach kuchen recipe that called for tossing the sliced peaches with a bit of sugar and letting them drain in a colander for 30 minutes before adding to the unbaked dough. I’m going to try this hand pie recipe using 1/2 peaches and 1/2 blueberries, stirring the drained, diced peaches into the cooked blueberry filling.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi May, we appreciate weight measurements too, which is why we’ve included the option to see ingredient measurements in volume, ounces or grams! To see them, just head over to the recipe page itself and click on the “grams” button just below “ingredients”. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  6. Bunny

    I have leftover tapioca granules (as a thickener) from a cherry pie I made for July Fourth. Could that be substituted for the two tablespoons of cornstarch? If so, would it be an equal substitution, or is an adjustment needed?

    King Arthur Flour is the best!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Quick-cooking tapioca does also work well as a thickener, Bunny. Like Instant ClearJel, it has more thickening power than cornstarch, so we’d recommend starting with the amount of ClearJel we recommend: 1 Tbsp. Mollie@KAF

  7. Rebecca S

    I also made a double batch for a July 4th picnic. I’ve been baking for 55 years and taught Home Ec. My son did not believe I made these little pies. He even said: ” Oh yah, you bought them frozen and baked them”.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to experiment with other fruit fillings, Susan, just keep in mind that some fruits are juicier than others and may require different amounts of thickener. We’d recommend consulting our Pie Thickener Ingredient Chart for guidance or using the filling from a peach pie recipe like this one as a base. Hope this helps and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  8. Wendy C

    Could I use your pie enhancer instead of just corn starch?
    Love the recipe. Made the flag cobbler for the fourth, it was the hit of the party. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad we could help you craft a hit-worthy dish, Wendy! Since our Pie Filling Enhancer includes sugar and ascorbic acid, you’re going to want to use more of it than you would of corn starch or ClearJel, and you’ll also want to reduce the sugar used. It may take a little experimentation to get the amounts just right, but we’d start by using 2 Tbsp of Pie Filling Enhancer and reducing the sugar by 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure, John, but we think you’ll be surprised at how easily and tastily this basic filling comes together. It can even be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it, in case that makes it less daunting. Mollie@KAF

  9. Susan Champney

    I made these lovely little hand pies today. First time with this kind of dough. It did get a bit sticky after rolling out. But i gave my husband one of the goofed up ones and he is still swooning! I seem to have a lot of filling left but that means i have to make another batch!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Glad you got through your sticky situation and persevered, Susan. When I make these, I usually have to stick the rolled-out dough in the fridge partway through, to firm things up. As for that extra filling – oatmeal, toast spread, yogurt, all good! PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The blueberry filling can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days before it’s used in the pastry. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  10. Eileen

    I can’t use cornstarch (or anything with modified food starch since that’s usually cornstarch, too) due to allergies. What (and how much) other thickener would you suggest?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can try using Arrowroot Powder, Eileen. You can just slightly more than the amount of cornstarch called for (try 2 1/2 tablespoons in this recipe), and it should thicken beautifully. (We don’t have this listed as an option because arrowroot is a little bit more difficult to find than cornstarch, but you should be able to order it online if your local grocery store doesn’t stock it.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Eileen

      Thank you! I actually have a stock of Arrowroot, but the amounts aren’t always 1-to-1, so I will give that a try!

  11. Joyce

    Thank you! I just made these, I had apple pie filling that I had canned last year and a pint was the perfect amount. I didn’t have sour cream 😧 But I had heavy whipping cream plus a tablespoon of vinegar whipped it with my hand blender.
    I was so excited I measured 1 cup of my “sour cream” instead of 1/2 cup, but my flour was fresh ground wheat berries, I kept going when it was crumbling like the picture.
    This is a keeper!

    Reply
  12. durg perron

    I made these july 6th, I used frozen blueberry & some fresh strawberries & I used some fresh lime juice & some instant clear jell, for the filling,,, the dough was the greatest, & very flakey, I have never made a pastry dough before & was a little on the worried side, but now I know I can do it,,,, but 8 of them is not near enough,,,Thank you for a real confidence builder!!!!

    Reply
  13. Jeanine/VT

    I made these over the weekend. I used a 3 inch circle cutter and deceased the filling by a little. They come out perfect. The dough was very easy to work with. Thanks for a another great recipe.

    Reply
  14. Kim

    Definitely making these once I get to the store to pick up some blueberries.

    Sour cream is one of my favorite things. It’s an oft overlooked food superhero.

    I’m guessing this dough shouldn’t be used for a regular pie crust, but I’m going to ask anyway 😉

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Well, we won’t give you a hard no, Kim! Some well-known bakers actually pride themselves on using a rough-puff-pastry-like crust for their pies. It can get tricky when making particularly juicy pies, since it’s not especially sturdy, but rather light and flaky. If you have a pie filling that can be partially cooked before it’s added to the crust, you might want to give that a try first, and expect some serious puff action in the oven. We think you should give it a shot; you never know what you might like! Kye@KAF (P.S. Put a baking sheet under your experimental pie for good measure!)

  15. Yojin

    Hi,

    Would it be okay to use whole wheat flour for this or would it seriously alter the crust structure?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      It would affect the crust structure to a degree, Yojin; it would be much harder to work with, more crumbly, though the finished crust should still be fairly tender. It would affect the flavor quite a bit, though. Whole wheat, especially red whole wheat, can have a very strong taste. If you like it, go for it; if you’re not sure or don’t know, you might want to try substituting whole wheat for half the all-purpose flour first, before you go 100%. Good luck — PJH

  16. Diana

    Could you freeze the hand pies before you bake them and then bake as needed instead of all at one time?

    Reply
  17. Merry

    Hello,

    Id like to make these and then freeze to bake another day. How would I go about doing that? Do I make then freeze OR partially bake then freeze OR completely bake then freeze, thaw and refresh?

    I have enjoyed all of the bake-a-long Challenges and haven’t found one I didn’t love. Thank you very much for the detailed information you always give with the challenge. I love your blog!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Merry, these are best assembled and frozen raw, then baked fresh. Put them on the baking sheet to thaw partially while you preheat the oven. They may need an extra minute or two. Susan

  18. Tom

    I made these couple of days ago. They came out really good. Got great compliments from friends and family.

    Is there a way to get rid of the “Let’s stay in touch!” with ENTER EMAIL on the bottom of the page? It’s really annoying.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Tom, we’re glad you had great results with this month’s bakealong challenge. We appreciate you asking about that pop-up box, as we’d like to make your time on our website as enjoyable as possible. There should be a small check box that you can select that says, “I’ve already signed up,” which should prevent the box from appearing again. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  19. Jill Gurley

    The results from this dough were really unexpected. When I opened the oven, it was as if I had worked with puff pastry. It was wonderful. I will be experimenting with other fruits as well. I loved that this filling was not too sweet.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jill, your description of the dough is spot on. We like to call crust recipes like this “rough puff,” because they’re basically shortcut puff pastry dough. Thanks for baking along with us! Kye@KAF

  20. Susan Smith

    I have worked with butter doughs on many occasions, so imagine my surprise when my dough did not stick together! I used the amounts shown, and thought the sour cream might have enough moisture to pull all the dry ingredients together as a dough, but it did not. I ended up sprinkling about one tablespoon of water over the dry ingredients, and then gave it a knead. That worked! Also, I am a huge fan of cinnamon with blueberries, so I added about 3/4 teaspoon to my blueberry filling. I will definitely make this recipe again!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good thinking to add a bit of moisture to make the dough come together, Susan. If it’s particularly dry outside or if you measure your flour by scooping it right from the bag instead of measuring or fluffing and sprinkling, there might have been a bit too much added to the dough. If you’re not weighing, you can also try measuring your flour like this next time to ensure just the right amount is added. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  21. Cathy

    I wish I had time to start them right now, but I have to change hats in about 1/2 hour and become a taxi pick up service (aka pick up my son from a friend’s house). I read everyone’s comments and need to make these. Hopefully I can do it tonight. One question. If I make the dough tonight but can’t make them until tomorrow, should I leave the dough in room temperature for a while before starting to shape and fill them?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cathy, if you make the dough the night before you’d like to bake, keep it in the fridge and you can begin working with it practically right away. It might feel a little stiff initially, so a few minutes at room temperature to soften might help. Don’t let it sit for too long though; you want the dough to be very cold for maximum puff. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  22. Christine Olmstead

    Yikes! In literally a half century of baking I have not struggled like this with a crust since I was in middle school. Normally I refrain from offering negative feedback because life is too short, and I usually blame myself for failures–but this? I honestly feel as though I should serve as a warning to others. I performed all steps as written. In my opinion this dough cannot be handled in a summer time kitchen of 81F. Even with repeated chilling, even with chilled tools and working at top speed… there is just too much butter and too little flour for baked goods in July in Arizona. The ordeal isn’t worth all that butter flavor. I will return to a simpler (use less shortening) crust. On the plus side, the filling was quick and easy to make, tasty, and I will do that again. I just felt you should know, this is for cold climate baking.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Christine, we appreciate your honest feedback about the crust recipe, as it gives us a chance to improve the baking experiences others might have. This dough can be very difficult to bring together if the flour is measured by scooping the measuring cup right into the bag of flour, which compacts it into the cup. The end result is too much flour gets added and it make a very dry dough that refuses to come together. To ensure there’s a proper ratio of butter and sour cream to flour, we recommend either measuring your flour using a scale (1 cup weighs 4 1/4 ounces) or measuring it by fluffing and sprinkling it into the measuring cup, like this. If you’re feeling hopeful, you might want to try making it again using this technique and we think you’ll have a much easier time! Kye@KAF

  23. Anita

    I made these a few days ago and they’re wonderful! The pastry is truly amazing, so flavorful and flakey. I used apples, dicing them up and cooking them as if for a pie filling.
    Your directions are great, and I didn’t have a single leak.
    Thanks for this great recipe!

    Reply
  24. Lani S

    This recipe is so great! I was nervous about how the crust would come out as I don’t have a lot of experience with my pie crusts coming out well, and I ended up handling it a LOT trying to roll it out to a 14×14″ square (SO HARD TO DO). But, despite all that handling, it was still light and flakey. Thank you so much for this!

    Reply
  25. Sharon B

    Made these this afternoon. Don’t know why, but I expected them to be closer to my homemade pop tarts than they were (yeah, I know the recipe refers to them as “hand pies”). They are delicious, and amazingly easy to make. That is one flaky, flaky crust. I feel sure these will be happening again before the end of this month!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s true — these hand pies are a bit more tender and flaky than what we like to call “Toaster Tarts.” If you’d like to try making these at home too, you certainly can. We have a fabulous recipe for you here. You can even fill them with blueberry filling! Kye@KAF

  26. Joan

    I have NEVER been able to make pie crust. So thought I would give these a try I used raspberries oh my they are so good. 😊

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Barb, the eggs help bind the gluten-free dough, which can otherwise be crumbly. We recommend including them for best results, if possible. If you’d like to include some sour cream, you can use 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter and add in 6 tablespoons of sour cream. It should add additional moistness as well as a pleasant tang. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  27. Lisa

    I made these over the weekend and they turned out very nicely. However I ended up only with 6. I’ve never had good techniques with pie dough and obviously didn’t roll it out thin enough. They were very good though. They didn’t look like the picture exactly. Mine didn’t puff up as much. I’d like to try again sometime and maybe I can perfect my technique..

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lisa, you’re not the only baker who has struggled to get perfectly thin and even pie dough. Some tools that might help with this are either a pastry pin, which has raised edges to ensure even rolling, or Rolling Pin Rings, which basically transforms a regular rolling pin into a pastry pin. Check out their product pages for more details about how to use them to make the perfect pie dough. We hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  28. Lisa S.

    Love this recipe and especially the step-by-step pictures! The crust is so tender and flakey, and it makes the perfect single serving. I made my second batch today with my fresh-picked blueberries. I used my food processor to assemble the dough, and used plastic wrap underneath to help form it into a log. I always find it difficult to roll out dough into a large rectangle. I divided my chilled dough into 4 equal pieces. I rolled each section into a 7 x 7 square. This allowed me to keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator, and it was easy to cut the large square into four 3 1/2 inch squares.

    Reply
  29. Cindy Brown

    OH MY!! these are so crazy delicious! I made a double batch and the filling is more than enough for that. I could’ve filled them a little more, but was concerned about leakage, should not have been. At first I thought my dough was dry because it was not sticking together, but in the end it was perfect. I’m going to try to reheat some for friends and family tomorrow, do you think that would work out?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Absolutely, Cindy – reheating in the oven, a toaster oven, or even in a toaster (if you have one with a bagel slot) would be preferable to a microwave. Enjoy — pJH

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