Unpopular opinion: cranberry sauce is the best part of Thanksgiving. No, not cranberry sauce from a can, but homemade, slowly stewed cranberries, with orange zest and a little sugar. Almost like a dessert that’s acceptable to eat during the dinner portion of Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t have to agree with me, but I think you will agree that making, and eating, these cranberry orange hand pies is a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.
The recipe for the pastry comes from a cookbook published in 1897 and is one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever tried. The original recipe called for half lard and half butter, but I modernized, and vegetarian-ized the recipe by switching it to an all butter crust. This dough is so simple to make and could easily be made in a larger batch and frozen in pie sized portions for use at a later date, which might be helpful as we approach the holiday season!
1/2 cup butter, frozen
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup ice water
1 tbs cream
12 oz cranberries
1 cup water
5 tbs sugar
6 drops orange essential oil or 1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs cream
2-3 tsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Freeze half a cup of butter until completely frozen solid.
- Once the butter is frozen, fill a cup measure with 1/4 cup water and a few ice cubes.
- Sift 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and one pinch of salt into a large bowl.
- With a cheese grater, grate the butter into the bowl of flour.
- With your hands, rub the butter into the flour, adding just enough of the ice water to form a dough.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill.
- While dough chills, combine 12 ounces of cranberries, one cup of water, five tablespoons of sugar and 6 drops of orange essential oil in a medium sauce pan.
- Stew this mixture on medium heat until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has reduced into a jam.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a thin and flat sheet.
- Cut dough into nine rectangles and place on lined baking sheet.
- Drop a teaspoon of cranberry jam onto one half of each of the rectangles.
- Fold the rectangles over and crimp the edges sealed.
- Cut three vents into the top of each hand pie.
- Beat one egg and one tablespoon cream together and brush on top of each pie.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the hand pies bake, mix together 1/4 cup powdered sugar, one tablespoon cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and two tablespoons water until a thin glaze is formed. Add another tablespoon of water if the glaze is too thick.
- Once the pies have been removed from the oven and have cooled slightly, brush the glaze on each pie and allow to cool completely.