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.
How to choose the perfect pomegranates at the store & how to slice them open
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!
How to make perfectly flaky pie crust for pomegranate hand pies
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.
How to shape cute hand pies, some tips
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.
Ingredients for pomegranate hand pies
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.
Pomegranate Hand Pies Recipe
Pomegranate Hand Pies
Sour Cream & Butter Crust
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 15 tablespoons butter unsalted cold and sliced
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup fresh pomegranate arils
- 1 ½ tablespoons tapioca or cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- egg wash granulated sugar for finishing
- Make the pie crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the flour until it’s about kidney bean sized. Add the sour cream and water and mix first with a spatula, then with your hand until you can get it to form a dry ball of dough. Flatten it into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Set in the fridge to chill for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Ready the filling: In a bowl, combine the pomegranate, starch, salt and sugar by gently stirring everything together (you can do this by hand).
- Shape the hand pies: split the dough in half and roll out one half to about a 9×10” rectangle, trim the edges then slice the dough so you have six smaller rectangles each 4” tall and 3” wide. Punch out a small shape in the top three and add about 2-3 tablespoons pomegranate filling in the center of the bottom three. Dip your index finger into the eggwash and run it over the edges of the dough surrounding the pomegranate. Place the top on top and use a fork to press down on the edges to seal it. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling as necessary. Set the dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle on some sugar to finish. Bake for about 15 minutes-20 until the crust is golden.