Strawberry Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

Strawberry Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

Confession: Every single time I see rosy, plump local strawberries at a market, I will bring them home. And very sadly, my history includes many a soggy berry. Those gorgeous little summer gems only last a day or two in the fridge! But I have discovered a secret to making them last longer. Just mash them with sugar, and not only will they keep a few days more, but they will release beautiful pink juice and be delicious with yogurt, ice cream, cheesecake, or even just on hot buttered toast. The act of sprinkling fruit with sugar causing it to release its juices is called “macerating”. Be sure to e-nun-ci-ate carefully on this word if you decide to repeat it… tee hee hee.

Or, alternatively, you could just bake them into a pie. Or several little pies. Perfect for toting to a picnic, sharing with neighbours, or grabbing for breakfast. Yes, pie for breakfast is perfectly acceptable on occasion.

These rustic looking hand pies are made with cream cheese pastry, which is softer than typical pie crust, and tastes quite like a rich sugar cookie. The strawberries bubble up irresistibly through the vents. The result is darling little, buttery sweet pies, perfectly sized for one.

Strawberry Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

The number of pies you end up with from the recipe depends on how thinly you roll your dough, and how big your circles are. I used a small circular casserole dish, and my dough was probably closer to 1/4 inch thick than the 1/8th inch the recipe calls for. The amount of strawberry filling you can get into each pie depends on how big your circles are, too. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons per pie, but you might use more or less. It’s an imperfect science – the results will be delicious no matter what. I got 10 pies from mine, and had a handful of strawberries left over. In retrospect I probably would have forced more berries into the pies (even if the pastry tore a bit), because they melt down in the oven, and hey, we’re already calling them rustic.

The dough is quite sticky, and the 1 hour refrigeration prior to rolling out is very important to be able to work with it. If you find the dough becomes sticky or difficult to work with when cutting out rounds and/or transferring them to the baking sheet, simply pop the dough in the freezer for a minute or two to firm up slightly and it will be totally workable again.

Strawberry Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Pastry

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, separated
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened (slightly more than 1/3 cup)*
  • 3 tbsp cream, milk, or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I prefer coarse or raw sugar; it’s pretty and gives a nice sparkly crunch – but regular sugar is fine)

1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and 1 cup sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat to combine. Add cream cheese, cream, and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Dump dough onto a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper on the counter. Wrapping parchment around dough (to avoid sticky fingers), form dough into a ball, and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate 1 hour, wrapped in parchment paper.

3. Meanwhile, sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over strawberries in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or waxed) paper and set aside.

3. After dough has chilled at least 1 hour, preheat oven to 375 degrees, then dampen a sheet of paper towel and lay it flat on the counter. Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment (or waxed paper) on top of the damp paper towel (to prevent it from sliding around on the counter when rolling). Aim for about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out circles using a large (5 inch) circular cookie cutter, or whatever else you have on hand. *At this point I found it necessary to chill the dough, as it became a bit too sticky to work with – I transferred the parchment to a baking sheet and put the whole thing in the freezer for about 2 minutes. Using a metal spatula, lift the dough circles and transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheets. Make a new ball from dough scraps, and repeat the rolling out and circle cutting.

3. Mash the strawberries slightly with a fork or a potato-masher. Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of strawberries onto one half of each circle. Fold dough over filling and pinch to close. Brush each pie with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar. Use scissors to snip a couple of vents in each pie to prevent the steam from popping open the seams. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking if you have two in at the same time. Cool on a wire rack.

*This is an example of when this is very useful!! The original recipe gave only ounces, which doesn’t help someone without a food scale. Converting weight to volume is ingredient specific… which is why this tool rocks my socks!


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  1. Michelle

    August 25, 2010 9:55 pm - Reply

    This looks so pretty and delicious!

  2. Beaner

    August 25, 2010 11:04 pm - Reply

    You are uber genius-status. I am making these asap.

  3. newlywed

    August 26, 2010 10:31 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I love making little hand-pies. I think one ought to consider them acceptable breakfast food. I mean, that’s what pop-tarts are supposed to be, right?

  4. Katie@Cozydelicious

    August 26, 2010 12:31 pm - Reply

    These are adorable! And I love that you eat pie for breakfast too! Somehow it feels less naughty if it’s a little personal hand pie though… maybe because I’m less inclined to top it with a scoop of ice cream?

  5. Carolyn Jung

    August 27, 2010 4:25 pm - Reply

    These hand pies look amazing! Here’s another tip for making your strawberries last a good week in the fridge: When you get them home, don’t leave them in their original containers. Instead, take a plastic storage container, place a sheet of paper towel on the bottom, then a single layer of strawberries. If your container is high enough, place another paper towel over the berries, then add another single layer of strawberries. Top with a final sheet of paper towel, then then lid of the container. By separating the berries and putting paper towels between them, you help lessen them sitting in their own moisture and starting to decay. I find I can keep my berries about a week this way.

  6. Lucy

    August 27, 2010 5:15 pm - Reply

    As soon as I saw these pretty pictures I thoughtof picnics! What gorgeous summertime treats :)

  7. Anonymous

    August 28, 2010 5:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks Michelle!

  8. Anonymous

    August 28, 2010 5:49 pm - Reply

    ah yes… genius… I get that a lot… ;-)

  9. Anonymous

    August 28, 2010 5:52 pm - Reply

    Totally acceptable breakfast food. But if that’s what Poptarts are trying to be, they need to try harder! hehe

  10. Anonymous

    August 28, 2010 5:53 pm - Reply

    Awesome, Carolyn, thanks for the tip! I do that with my lettuce, greens, and herbs too!

  11. Anonymous

    August 28, 2010 5:54 pm - Reply

    I know, eh? Let’s cling on to picnic season for as long as possible!!

  12. Joanne

    September 2, 2010 1:04 am - Reply

    Cream cheese pastry is my favorite for making rugelach and it sounds like it would be fantastic against the strawberry pie filling. I confess, I’m a sucker for cherries, myself. And figs. I can’t just walk by a market without buying them.

  13. Pretty. Good. Food.

    October 21, 2010 7:58 pm - Reply

    Just came across your site, loving everything! These sound great! Love the photos :)

    • Anonymous

      October 25, 2010 8:05 pm - Reply

      Thank you! :-)

      • Tania

        November 20, 2010 5:07 pm - Reply

        hey ! this recipe looks awesome, i have made the dough but the dough is just tooo soft !!! cant roll it …. now trying to keep the dough overnight …but if it is still soft in the morning any tips on what i should do ??

        • Anonymous

          November 21, 2010 9:13 pm - Reply

          It is supposed to be a soft, sticky dough… did you refrigerate it for an hour? Because it is so soft, you reeeally need to use parchment or wax paper to roll it out… you should be okay if you do both these things!! I needed to chill the dough in the freezer for a few minutes several times between rolling it and lifting the circles from the parchment.

          If it is still impossibly wet, you may need to incorporate a more flour while you are handling it… shake a good 1/4 cup of flour onto the parchment-lined counter and gently work it into the dough as you are rolling it (however, do this only as a last resort… it could toughen up the pastry). Hope it works for you!!

  14. Alexita

    April 21, 2012 10:12 am - Reply

    I loved this recipe, but when I made it, my dough came out bready when baked, kind of like an empanada, or a saltena.  Yours looks so… delicious.. and chewy-like.  What am I doing wrong?!

    • foodess

      April 21, 2012 5:04 pm - Reply

      How do you measure your flour? It should be gently spooned into the measuring cup and leveled off – if you scoop directly from the bag you’ll be getting too much flour, that could cause the difference…