Plums are a delicious fruit to bake with because their sweet flavor only intensifies in the oven. It is often used in fruit cobblers, but I like to put it in pie fillings as well. A plum pie has a lovely jammy quality to it, as well as a beautiful color. These Plum Hand Pies are single serving pies that are just one more way to enjoy plums.
One thing that puts people off of baking with plums is that it can be difficult to remove their skins. You can do this by peeling them or by cutting a small x in the bottom and blanching them in hot water for a few seconds. I like to leave the peels on because that is where most of the color of the fruit comes in and the filling of your pies will be deeper and more vibrant if you cut up the fruit without peeling it first. Those tiny pieces of peel don’t detract from the fruit filling one bit. The filling for these pies is rich and juicy, with a wonderfully sweet-tart plum flavor. If your plums are a little on the tart side, you might want to add in an extra tablespoon or two of sugar.
Hand pies have a great crust-to-filling ratio and it is worth taking the time to make pie crust from scratch for a batch of them. The flaky, buttery crust is great with any kind of filling, and this plum filling is no exception. I like to brush my crusts with a little bit of milk or cream before baking, which helps them brown in the oven and also helps a generous sprinkling of coarse sugar to stick in place to finish off the pies.
I made these hand pies a little bit bigger than my apple hand pies, since the pieces of plum are a bit larger. I found that I got a more satisfying pie with a little more filling. So, I make a double batch of the pie crust and make twice as many pies, making each of them a little bigger than I normally would. You could easily cut this recipe in half to make only 5 or 6 hand pies if you prefer a smaller batch, but these keep quite well and are still tasty after a day or two, so there is no harm in having leftovers.
Plum Hand Pies
dough for two 9-inch pie crusts (double recipe below)
8 plums, diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine diced plums, sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla and toss until plums are well coated.
Roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 5 or 6-inch round cutter to cut dough into 10 rounds. Work with the dough in two batches if your kitchen is warm. Dough can also be cut into rectangles instead of circles. Transfer dough rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place 3-4 tbsp of filling onto half of each round, leaving about 1/2-inch of dough around the outside edge. Brush edge of dough with a little water, then fold over the extra dough to cover the filling. Use a fork to seal the edge of the pie.
Refrigerate pies for 25 minutes.
Brush pies with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut 2-3 vents in the top of each pie with a sharp knife.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Makes 10 pies
All Butter Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
5-7 tbsp ice water
Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips, pressing it into the flour mixture and breaking it up, until mixture resemble very coarse sand and no pieces larger than a large pea remain. Using a fork, stir in ice water until dough almost comes together into a ball. Press dough into a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 60 minutes before using.