Chef's Choice Recipe: Leanna Russo's Hand Pies

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This is part three of Robin Wheeler's Chef's Choice interview with Leanna Russo of BitterSweet Bakery; to read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

Despite Leanna Russo's preference for savory over sweet, she has a soft spot for the hand pies she grew up eating during her childhood in Ohio and northern Wisconsin. "The one I grew up on was always made with apple. The apples are cooked down to a purée, and the filling is thick, tart and sweet. The pie dough is the best and is measured by the handfuls instead of cups."

Russo's BitterSweet Bakery sells a cherry version of the hand pie, and during our visit she made one with a thick blackberry compote. Thick and hefty, the pie's lined with pleated layers of flaky crust, thanks to Russo's insistence that they be baked, as she puts it, ten minutes longer than you think it should be baked. The end result yields a crispness to the outer layer of the pie, followed by delicate flakes.

As long as the filling's not too runny, the pies can be made with any pie filling, compote or jam. Because Russo's method involves handfuls instead of measurements, use your preferred pie crust and filling recipes.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

Leanna Russo's Hand Pies

1 recipe pie dough crust, cut into rounds 6 inches in diameter 1/2 cup pie filling per pie 1 egg yolk, beaten 1 tablespoon water Coarse sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Being careful not to handle the dough too much, place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water.

4. Place 1/2 cup pie filling in the center of each round. Brush edges with egg yolk mixture and fold dough in half, covering the filling. Press the edges to seal.

5. With a paring knife, cut a small X in the center of each pie. Brush top with egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Bake 45 minutes, or until crust is done. Be careful to not undercook. Crust should be dark gold and flaky.

ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler

BitterSweet Bakery 2200 Gravios Avenue 314-771-3500

This is part three of Robin Wheeler's Chef's Choice interview with Leanna Russo of BitterSweet Bakery; to read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

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