We’re at the point in the year where, down here in Texas, things really start to heat up. The sun is scorching hot, you can most definitely fry an egg on the sidewalk (or maybe even an entire chicken…not that I’ve tried), and nobody dares to venture outside without a liberal coating of sunscreen and a big floppy hat. It’s summer in all of it’s bright, sticky glory, and I absolutely love it. (I’ll take 102F over 22F any day of the week!) Fun in the sun aside, summer means the arrival of one very delicious season for bakers and foodies alike — I’m talking about summer fruit. We wait all year long for the market to flood with fresh berries, stone fruit, melons and more, and when they finally arrive, we celebrate! Do you have a favorite? Lately, I’ve found myself on a huge plum kick. This year’s harvest has proven to be the most flavorful in recent memory and I’m taking full advantage. There’s just something that I find beguilingly irresistible in the simple pleasure of biting into a juicy, ripe plum — the snap of its deep purple skin, the sweet, golden flesh that hides underneath, overflowing with juice that drips down your skin and makes your fingers sticky. Swoon.
So, when I found myself under the spell of a very intense pie craving, it only seemed logical to pair this summer’s superstar with every summer’s iconic baked dessert. These hand pies combine super cute, miniature cherry plums (though regular plums would work perfectly), with blueberries hand-picked by yours truly (so fun!), and a lavender-infused buttermilk pie crust. I’m quite proud of how they turned out. The fruit cooks down to a gorgeous shade of deep purple, and the sweet insides are complemented by light floral notes that make these hand pies just a touch fancier than average. And since their perfectly portioned into little three-bite packages, they’re perfect for entertaining a crowd at your next pool party or summer celebration. Enjoy!
For the crust: (requires prep the night before)
8 tablespoons buttermilk, cold
3 tablespoons culinary lavender
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
For the filling:
1 1/4 cups chopped plums
1 1/4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar (increase if your fruit is under-ripe)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg beaten with a splash of water
raw sugar, for sprinkling
- To prepare the infused buttermilk: The night before you're going to make the crust, combine the buttermilk and lavender in a small bowl, stirring to make sure the lavender is submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight to infuse the flavor of the lavender throughout the buttermilk.
- When ready to prepare the crust: Strain the lavender out of the buttermilk and discard the buds. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a large food processor. Note that if you have a small food processor, you may need to make the dough in two batches. Pulse the dry ingredients to combine.
- Drop the cubed butter over the flour and pulse 10-15 times until butter is mostly chunks the size of large peas with some larger chunks still remaining.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the infused buttermilk and pulse until a dough begins to form. Test to see if the dough is moist enough but pinching a small amount between your fingers. If it holds together, then it's ready. If the dough is crumbly, add in the remaining buttermilk one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds. As a rule of thumb, too moist is better than too dry, if you're a pie crust beginner and you're unsure, add a little more buttermilk.
- Pour the dough out onto a well-floured piece of parchment paper and form into two discs. Wrap the discs in the parchment, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to overnight.
- To prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the plums, blueberries,lemon juice and sugar. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has cooked down and the juices are bubbling.
- Add the cornstarch to the bubbling fruit mixture and stir until well combined. Cook for about 2 more minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool.
- To assemble: Roll out the pie dough until about 1/8-inch thick. Use a wine glass or biscuit cutter to cut out ~2.5 inch circles of dough. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the middle of each circle. Brush the edges with egg wash, place another dough circle on top and use the tongs of a fork to seal the edges. It's okay if a little bit of the filling oozes out. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
- Place assembled pies into the freezer for 30 minutes to chill. This will help them to hold their shape. While the pies are chilling, preheat the oven to 425F.
- Once chilled, remove the pies from the freezer. Brush with egg wash and poke a few holes in the top of each to let steam escape. Sprinkle with raw sugar then bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and the juices are bubbling out of the top.
- Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.