What a perfect Fall combination apples, raisins and rum all packed nice and tidy in a little hand pie. Making these is always such a pleasure and sharing them with friends and family even more so. I love how each pie bakes up differently and watching how each person chooses their individual pie, ones with the fruit bubbled over or caramel sugar stuck to the sides, or maybe it's the perfect golden brown one. I like to think their choices reflect their own personalities.
I made a quick trip out to Sauvie's Island in the early morning to pick apples and check out a farm I was curious about. It really ended up being a perfect morning. Douglas Brothers Farm is a lovely place with some beautiful peach and apple orchards. The apple orchard is about three quarters of a mile from the farm stand and makes the journey a little more pleasant, strolling past the peach orchards, rounding the bend to head through an open field, across an old wooden bridge to wind up smack dab in the middle of a beautiful apple orchard. This particular morning couldn't have been more perfect because I had the entire orchard to myself, I was just sharing some space with a red tail hawk flying overhead, the most striking lone blue heron in the open field and honeybees busy gleaning apples that had fallen from the trees. I was able to take my time and stroll down the rows of trees picking different varieties from sweet to tart. These apples will be perfect for my hand pies.
The flavor of rum raisin was something I tasted for the first time in Italy when I was 17 years old. It was a gelato and I always wonder why I choose that flavor because I detested raisins. I think the disdain came from having a grandmother who put raisins (and walnuts) in everything (almost) she prepared. I can remember thinking to my 8 year old foodie self "why would you ruin a perfectly delicious cookie, cinnamon roll or salad with raisins". Fast forward to me at 17 in Florence at yet another gelato shop and I ordered rum raisin gelato. Why? I can't remember. Did I point to the lemon and they accidentally gave me rum raisin and I was to shy to speak up? Had I tried every gelato flavor in the region and rum raisin was the only one left? Was I intrigued by the rum? I will never know but I do know it was serendipitous, the custard, rum and raisins are an amazing trio. From that day onward I moved over into the I like raisin camp although I will say they are tastiest when soaked in a little booze.
Rum Raisin Apple Hand Pies
Loosely adapted from Gourmet
4 tablespoons of dark rum
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 medium apples, ranging from sweet to tart (3 lbs)
1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons of raw sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add chilled butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10-12 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together. To test squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time.
Divide the dough into two equal balls. Flatten each into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
Rum Raisin and Apple Filling
Bring rum with raisins to a boil in a 1 quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand stand, covered, 1 hour.
Mix together brown sugar, flour, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with your hands in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Peel and core apples, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes and add to sugar mixture, tossing to coat. Add raisins with any remaining liquid and toss until combined.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on a floured surface into two 15x12" rectangles. Cut into 12 rectangles.
Brush edges of rectangles with egg wash; mound two tablespoons of pie filling in the center of each rectangle. Fold dough over, and press edges to seal (I also crimped with a fork to insure pies were sealed). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut slits in tops.
Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through, until juices are bubbling and pastry is golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.