These flaky Rhubarb Hand Pies are simply delicious - buttery, flaky pie dough ia packed full of creamy mascarpone a a sweet tangy rhubarb compote. And if you're having a party it's easy to make a lot of these tasty treats so there's plenty for everyone. Get the recipe below and if you love rhubarb as much as I do check out my other rhubarb recipes.
Hand pies are little jewels of perfection. Buttery pie dough stuffed with your favorite filling and it all fits in the palm of your hand. Hand pies are portable delicious snacks which is one of the best things about them. Just grab one and go. If you like hand pies check out my recipes for Strawberry Hand Pies and Blackberry Hand Pies.
- Why This Recipe Works
- How to Make the Flaky Pie Crust
- Rolling and Folding the Pie Dough
- How to Make the Rhubarb Filling
- How to Assemble the Rhubarb Hand Pies
- How to Bake the Hand Pies
- Storing the Hand Pies
- Pro Tips for Making the Hand Pies
- Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
- If You Like This Recipe Try These
- Rhubarb Hand Pies
Why This Recipe Works
The recipe starts with a dough that has almost equal parts of flour and butter. This ratio of ingredients produces a crust that has hundreds of layers when baked. The filling is a simple rhubarb compote that is sweetened with caramel which gives the rhubarb a nice depth of flavor and makes a wonderful filling for these delicious hand pies.
How to Make the Flaky Pie Crust
The first step in making these rhubarb hand pies is to make the pie crust which has five simple ingredients:
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter
- Ice Cold Water
This crust is made with almost equal amounts, by weight, of flour and butter. To create the flaky layers you start with ice-cold butter. The butter is cut into small pieces and then worked into the butter by taking each piece and flattening it with your thumb and forefinger. When you're done all the butter should be about the size of quarters and the mixture should start to resemble coarse cornmeal.
When adding the liquid, start by adding half the water and mixing it into the flour-butter mixture with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula. Make sure that you are picking up the flour on the bottom of the bowl. Continue to add water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix in until the dough looks shaggy.
Now the dough is ready for the next step. You're going to smear the dough up the sides of the bowl. This step is called fraisage. This method is to used to produce a smooth dough without overworking it.
Close your hand into a fist and use your knuckles to smear the dough up the sides of the bowl. Work your way around the bowl by spinning the bowl as you work. When most of the dough has been worked, dump it on a floured work surface.
Rolling and Folding the Pie Dough
The next step is to roll and fold the dough to help create the layers of butter and flour that result in the beautiful flaky layers when the pies are baked.
Use your hands to form the dough into a rectangle that is roughly 10 x 12 inches. Use a bench scraper to trifold the dough. Don't try to make the dough look neat and pretty, it's supposed to be a little lumpy looking. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a rectangle. The dimensions don't have to be exact, just big enough to fold. In the end, you're going to roll and fold three times.
Roll the dough into a rectangle, cut into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. At this point, you can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months. Place the plastic wrap dough in a freezer bag, place it on a flat surface in the freezer.
How to Make the Rhubarb Filling
Start by washing the stalks of rhubarb and trim the ends. I thought a lot about how much sugar to add to the rhubarb filling. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2-inch wide pieces.
Rhubarb is very sour and is usually cooked with sugar. The amount of sugar that is added depends on the recipe.
Instead of adding sugar directly to the rhubarb, I cooked the rhubarb in a caramel syrup which adds sweetness and breaks down the rhubarb. The final cooked fruit has a subtle caramel taste that goes really well with the mascarpone filling.
To make the caramel, combine water and sugar in a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, bring to boiling, only stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the caramel is a light amber color.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped rhubarb. Some of the caramel will harden, but that is okay. As the liquid from the rhubarb is released the hard pieces of caramel will melt. Return the pan to heat and stir continuously to cook the rhubarb and melt the hard pieces of caramel.
The mixture is done when all the rhubarb is softened and has broken down. Taste the mixture and if you want it sweeter add more sugar, one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired sweetness. Cool the mixture to room temperature before making the pies.
How to Assemble the Rhubarb Hand Pies
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for 10-15 minutes on the work surface to make it easier to roll.
Roll the dough until it is 1/8-inch thick. Cut out the 3-inch dough squares. I like using the square cutters because there is less rerolling of the dough, but if you don't have square cutters use round cutters or cut squares out using a ruler and a sharp knife or pasty cutter.
Place a teaspoon of the mascarpone filling in the center of the dough and 1-1/2 teaspoons of rhubarb filling on top of the mascarpone. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash, place another dough square on top
- Place a teaspoon of the mascarpone filling in the center of the dough and 1-1/2 teaspoons of rhubarb filling on top of the mascarpone.
- Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash and place another dough square on top of the filling.
- Press the edges together and use a fork to seal the edges.
- Place each pie on a cutting board or small baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
How to Bake the Hand Pies
Thirty (30) minutes before you're ready to make, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the chilled pies from the refrigerator, brush the top with egg wash, cut an opening into the top of the hand pie, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake them for 16-18 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 6 pies at a time on a half-sheet baking sheet. Don't overcrowd the pan, because that will impact the browning and the rise of the pies. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the pies to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
If you only have one baking sheet allow it to cool completely before baking the next set of pies. The pies are best the day of or the day after baking.
Storing the Hand Pies
Store at room temperature for up to 2 days in an airtight container. After that store them in the refrigerator for up to a week (if they last that long).
Pro Tips for Making the Hand Pies
- Use cold water and cold butter for making the pie. Using cold ingredients will ensure a flaky dough. If your kitchen is hot refrigerate the flour for at least an hour before making the dough
- If the dough becomes soft while assembling the hand pies refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes and then resume working with the dough again.
- Refrigerate the unbaked hand pies before baking. This step chills the butter and ensures a flaky hand pie
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, we can use fruit jam like strawberry or raspberry or and even fig jam in place of the rhubarb.
Yes, you can make the dough gluten free. I have not done it, but you can check resources like The Loopy Whisk or Food52 for gluten free pie dough recipes.
Yes, the hand pies can be frozen but without the mascarpone cream filling. Assemble the hand pies, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. When they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Freeze up to 2 months.
If You Like This Recipe Try These
Rhubarb Hand Pies
- Half Baking Sheet, 17 x 12-inch
- Rolling Pin
- Bench Scraper
- 2-3/4 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed 82% butter fat preferred
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 8 ounces (227 grams) rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 ounces (57 grams) mascarpone cheese cold
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons sour cream cold
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- Turbinado sugar
- Add the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cubed butter and use your fingers to smush the butter into flat pieces. Continue smashing the butter until all of it is flattened and pieces are about the size of quarters. The flour should look like coarse cornmeal.
- Add about 4 tablespoons of water initially and quickly fold it in with a wooden spoon to distribute the water. The dough should appear shaggy. If you need to add more water, add it one (1) tablespoon at a time until it appears shaggy (you may not need all of the water). Keep the dough in the bowl and use your fingers or the palms of your hand to smear the dough up the sides of the bowl.
- Once you've done this all the way around the bowl. fold the dough over itself to pick up any dry bits from the bottom of the bowl. Pour the dough onto a floured work surface (I use a wooden board). Press the dough into a rectangle, lightly flour the top and use a rolling pin to roll out to a rectangle, approximately, 10 x 8-inches. Use a bench scraper to fold the dough into a letter fold. Repeat the rectangle and the letter fold two more times.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Chop the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the sugar and water in a 3-quart saucepan and bring it to a boil, only stirring enough to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the caramel is a light amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped rhubarb. Some of the caramel will harden, but that is okay. As the liquid from the rhubarb is released the hard pieces of caramel will melt.
- Return the pan to the heat and stir continuously over medium-low heat until the rhubarb is broken down and soft. The final mixture will resemble a puree. If the rhubarb starts to stick to the bottom of the pan as it is cooking, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. When the rhubarb is done taste it and if it is too tart for your tastes add more sugar 2 tablespoons at a time until the desired sweetness is reached.
- Scrap the rhubarb into a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature before making the hand pies. If not making the hand pies the same day, refrigerate the rhubarb until read to use.
- Place the mascarpone, kosher salt, and sugar in a small bowl and zest the lemon directly into the bowl. Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together. Mix in the egg yolk. Add the lemon juice and sour cream and stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the hand pies.
Assemble the Hand Pies
- Take one half of the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. This step will make it easier to roll out. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Use a 3-inch square cutter to cut out the squares. Place 1 teaspoon of the mascarpone filing in the center of the square and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the rhubarb on top of the mascarpone. Brush the edges of the square with egg wash and place a second dough square on top, pressing the two halves together. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges together.
- Gather of the dough scraps and press into a dough circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. You will be able to get another 5-6 pies from the dough scraps.
- Repeat the assembly steps on the second half of dough. When the pies are assembled refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. The hand pies can also be frozen at this point. Place them on sheet tray in a single layer, freeze them and then place them in a freezer bag.
Baking the Rhubarb Hand Pies
- 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pies, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 6 pies on a half baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the pies with egg wash, cut an opening into the top and then sprinkle them with turbinado sugar. Bake them for 18-20 minutes until dark golden brown. If you want them darker bake for another 2 minutes.
- Remove the sheet from the oven, cool the pies for 5 minutes and then move them to a cooling rack. The pies taste absolutely amazing while they are still warm.
- The pies are best on the day they’re baked. Store the pies at room temperature in an air tight container for 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to a week. Rewarm the pies in a 350°F oven.