Recipe of the Week: Free form triple berry hand pies

This is such a rustic and modern recipe. I first made this recipe for the varsity Strasburg volleyball team and their “Dig Pink” breast cancer awareness game. Varsity player Haley Copeland told me after the game that “this pie is full of flavor and the crust had a lot of texture.”

I just love the deep colors and the caramelized sugar that’s sprinkled on top. There is no right or wrong way to make a “free form pie” because it’s all up to the chef on how it turns out. So, take charge of your kitchen and tackle this great recipe for friends and family. As always, best wishes from my kitchen to yours.

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Yield: Four individual pies

Pie dough

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (chilled)
1/8 to ¼ cup ice water

Triple berry filling

1 pound of fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
¼ cup granulated sugar
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch


Vanilla glaze

Pie dough

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 20 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup water in a slow, steady stream through the top opening until the dough just holds together when pinched together. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and gather it into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an one hour before using.

While the pastry is chilling, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, remove the pastry from the refrigerator and divide into four equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of pastry into a 7-inch circle. Place the four pastry circles onto the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to firm up the pastry while you make the filling.

Triple berry filling

In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and flour. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and divide the filling between the four pastry circles, leaving about a 1-inch border around the outside edges of the pastry. Gently fold the edges of the pastry up and over the filling, leaving the center of the tart open. Press the edges gently so the pastry sticks together. Once all the tarts are assembled, cover and return to the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes to chill.

Baking the tart

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the rack in center of oven. Remove the unbaked assembled tarts from the refrigerator and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling and start to run out from the center of the tart. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. In a separate bowl, mix together two cups of powdered sugar, 3-4 tbsp of milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk all together and spoon over the slightly warm pies.

Cody’s Tips: “I always buy the freshest berries I can find, but when they are out of season I buy the triple berry frozen mix and they work just fine.”

“I use a pastry brush and brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, so when the pies are in the oven, the sugar caramelizes.”

Cody Fitchett, of Fort Valley, is a recent graduate of Triplett Tech in Shenandoah County. He will start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in February. Email him at cookboy32@yahoo.com