Thought hand pies were just for apples and blueberries? These will make you think again. Pomegranates mostly hold shape when baked within pie crust but the bit that seeps out makes a jammy tart juice that pairs wonderfully between two layers of flaky, buttery pie crust.
Pomegranates mostly hold shape when baked within pie crust but the bit that seeps out makes a jammy tart juice that pairs wonderfully between two layers of flaky, buttery pie crust.
Look for pomegranates that are dark red (but not purple or brown) and very firm. These will have the darkest and most fresh arils. To slice, slice a square shape at the top of the pomegranate, pull the top off and then make four slices at the edges of the square (if you can see the membrane, make the slices there). Pull the pomegranate open at opposing sides until it cracks. Remove the arils one by one. Pomegranate juice doesn’t stain, just wipe it up if it spills! You can open pomegranates a week ahead, they last in the fridge in an airtight container. You can freeze them too!
Cut in cold butter quickly and leave bean-sized pats of butter in the dough: Don’t overwork the dough, and use hard, cold butter. The goal is to have cold, big pieces of butter melt in the oven rather than in your hands or at room temperature. This is what creates flaky layers.
Limit the liquid: even if the crust dough looks dry, it will hydrate as it chills. Don’t add too much water.
Chill the crust twice: Partially this is to keep the butter from melting at room temperature and partially it is to a. Hydrate the crust in the first step and b. In the second step of chilling, this helps to keep shape when it goes into the oven.
Even layers: Roll the dough out so that it’s in one even layer, some rolling pins have rubber bands that help you get exact about this but you can do it by eye, feelin with your fingers to know where the dough is still too thick. Don’t roll it to thin, it should be about 1/16 of an inch.
Cutting equal sized shapes: I find this very difficult to do free-hand but if you use a ruler you can get exact squares/rectangles. Alternatively, use a cookie or biscuit cutter (it’ll need to be a big one!)
Trim the layers: After you’ve pressed the dough to seal with a fork, you can slightly trim it to make it neat – this is mostly for the cases where you’ve measured the pie bottoms and tops by hand.
Pomegranate: see above for tips for how to choose a good pomegranate. To get about a cup of arils (what’s needed for this recipe) you’ll need either one large pomegranate or two medium sized ones.
Butter: I find european butter melts quicker at room temperature and we’re doing quite a bit of rolling and shaping with this dough so I prefer a lower butterfat for this pie crust (american style butter)
Sour cream: Full-fat. Fat inhibits gluten, so along with the butter this is what creates the tender flaky layers.
Flour: all purpose flour, mid to low protein content. Measure carefully, sprinkling the flour over the cup and leveling it.
Sugar: fine granulated sugar for the crust and filling but if you want a sparkly finish use an organic sugar as the granules are a bit bigger (and more sparkly).
Tapioca starch: it thickens the fruit juices as they begin to seep out, creating that jammy texture. You can sub with cornstarch if you like.
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