If you are like me, you are always on the lookout for a new option for lunches. Years ago, I used to make my husband homemade hand pies for his lunches. Of course, this is before he went back into truck driving. Now that he is working local again, I have gone back to these as a good option for a hearty lunch.
Hand pies are a common name in the US for large empanadas or pasties as they are known in other countries. Typically, they are a minimum of 3″ diameter in size. When I make them, I use a large empanada press that I bought through Amazon. The one linked below is the press that I purchased. It is low cost, but the quality has been great. It makes hand pies that are about 4 inches across the long edge.
I make a batch of a bread-style dough (recipe below) before serving dinner. The dough rises as we eat the meal. After dinner, I roll out the dough and make the hand pies using leftovers from dinner or some other filling. The hand pies are baked while I clean up. Twenty minutes later, I have a batch of hand pies ready for the next day’s lunches.
Some of the fillings that we have enjoyed lately include: Philly cheese steak, beef or chicken pot pie, taco meat and cheese, chili and cheese, pizza toppings, beef stew, chicken enchilada filling, shredded cabbage with beef & onion, and a vegetarian filling made with spinach, onions, slivered almonds and feta cheese. The beauty of making hand pies is that you are only limited by your imagination. The only real rule of thumb to follow is to not make a filling containing too much liquid. Add only enough liquid to moisten the filling without making the dough soggy.
For fruit pies, you can use your favorite pie crust recipe, phyllo pastry sheets, or the bread dough listed below. We like the bread dough for most things. Unlike pie crust, the bread dough absorbs just enough of the pie filling to give the bread the flavors of the filling.
One note about the bread dough, this bread will not turn a golden brown like most breads. Don’t wait for it to brown up or you risk over baking it.
Hand Pie Dough
3 cups of flour
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp dry active yeast (or one packet)
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup warm water
In a bowl, mix the ingredients in the order given. Dough will be slightly dry once fully mixed. Pour a little olive oil into your hand and coat the palms of your hands with it. Knead the dough. The olive oil on your hands should be just enough to moisten the dough to make it smooth and elastic. Set the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled.
Gently punch down dough and knead lightly. Dough should be very soft at this point. Separate the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion out to about the thickness of a nickle. Place onto empanada press and fill with just enough filling to cover the center. Check your press’ instructions for the filling capacity measurement. Close the press, folding the press shut and sealing the dough’s edge. Place onto a baking sheet.
Bake the hand pies in a preheated oven at 350*F for 20 minutes.
Makes 12 hand pies approximately 4 inches in diameter
Note: Depending on your filling, you can freeze the unbaked hand pies to be baked later.