I realize that not everyone has even heard of olallieberries. That's because they are primarily grown on the Central Coast of California. This is also "home" for us, and my husband planted olallies a few years ago. Olallies have a very short season-- typically mid to late May, lasting for about a month. Before we know it, the season is over and so I try to freeze enough to last for the rest of the year. Sadly, this year, the season didn't yield as much as last year-- most likely, because of our severe drought. Phooey.
They have a sweet-tart flavor, resembling a raspberry. My husband is crazy about them! When Craig presented me with a large bowl of freshly picked olallies, I knew it wouldn't be enough to make a large batch of jam. (Fortunately, I make a lot of olallieberry jam, to last all year.)
I immediately thought of Olallieberry Pie. I reconsidered, thinking that hand pies would be a fun way to go. A few years ago, I made my first "Blitz Pastry" and I loved it. Think of Blitz Pastry as a faster and easier version of making your own puff pastry (and I have never made my own classic puff pastry, and seriously doubt I ever will). Don't quote me, but somehow all that folding and layering of butter-- I'll leave it to the pros.
Let's make Blitz Puff Pastry, shall we? Most of the ingredients are the same as a classic all-butter pie crust. We do add baking powder, however. Oh, and salt. The butter should be very cold. You can use a pastry cutter, but I prefer to use my food processor. Just pulse the butter into coarse and crumbly pieces.
Next, we add sour cream and pulse until you can still see pea-sized chunks of butter. (Overworking the dough means that we are building gluten-- and this leads to a very tough crust. We don't want that.) I dumped the dough onto a generously floured surface (wishing I had granite counter tops). I had to compress the dough with my fingers, so it would all stick together (again, not kneading it, just squeezing it until everything stuck together.
After the patting the dough into roughly an 8x10 rectangle, it's folded into thirds (like an envelope).
Once again, I rolled out the dough to the same size, folded it into thirds and wrapped it in plastic wrap. This should be chilled for at least 30 minutes, but I made this the night before.
To make the filling, there is one ingredient that has become something I never bake pies without. It's called "Instant Clearjel" and I buy it online at King Arthur Flour. This ingredient works better than flour, corn starch or tapioca. My fruit pie fillings gel perfectly, and they never run!
To the fresh berries, mix about 1 tablespoon of Instant Clear jell to my sugar. I like to add fresh lemon juice, then let the berries and sugar mixture macerate for at least 10-15 minutes. (Yes, you can use frozen berries.)
I let the ice cold dough sit out for about 15 minutes, and then start to roll it, then cut it into a large rectangle, then cut them into 12 equal rectangles.
Using an egg wash, I brushed around each edge, and then filled each square with 2-3 Tbsp. berries...
I pressed around the edges with a fork, and for fun, I cut out a small star for the steam to escape.
I froze the handpies for about 15 minutes. Why? I want the chunks of butter to be really, really cold so that they will steam and puff up and yield layers of tender flakes! Usually, I brush the pastry with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle it with coarse sugar. But, this time, I wanted to do something a little different... you'll see.
These baked to a beautiful golden brown in about 20 minutes.
If you look closely, you can see that there are layers of pastry.
Perhaps I overfilled this hand pie? No worries. It will become the one I break open first, to show you how it turned out.
While the hand pies were cooling, I measured one cup powdered sugar and added one teaspoon of Instant Clearjel, then added just enough cream (half and half) to make a spreadable glaze.
The pies were still warm, and I coated them with the glaze a couple of times.
While it's not the best idea to cut into a pie until it's completely cool (or the filling won't set), hand pies are a whole different story. There's no cutting into these-- just biting!
TASTING NOTES: In the words of my son, these are "amazing"! As you can clearly see, the Instant Clearjel firms up the fruit filling.
I made a similar pastry dough and posted it in March of 2010. I also used a turnover press, which has it's own challenges-- but also made great Berry Puff Turnovers.
Here's the printable recipe: