Pastry chef Sarah Lange, who recently left Elysian to open a pop-up pastry shop at the upcoming Smorgasburg in downtown Los Angeles called Bearclaw Kitchen, uses rye in her cherry hand pies. Because although rye is still pretty spectacular in a loaf of bread, it makes for pretty great individual pastries too. The rye flour adds a subtle, nutty, complexity of flavor to this pastry which complements the brightness of the cherries doused in balsamic vinegar and Madiera wine.
In a heavy pot, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, wine, vinegar, vanilla bean and salt. Set aside to macerate for 20 minutes, then bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally (the mixture must boil for the cornstarch to thicken). Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the cherries soften but before they begin to break down. Cool completely before assembling the hand pies. This makes about 3 cups filling, more than is needed for the pies; the remainder will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 1 week.
Quick rye puff pastry
Cover and freeze the flours and butter for 30 minutes to chill thoroughly.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours and salt, pulsing to combine. Add 1/3 of the frozen butter pieces and pulse until they are covered with flour. Add the second third and continue to pulse until the butter is reduced to the size of peas. Add the remaining butter, and continue to pulse until the butter is reduced to the size of peas.
Slowly add the ice water, and continue to pulse just until the dough begins to clump together.
Remove the dough to a floured board (using all-purpose flour), and form a rectangle approximately 12 inches by 8 inches.
Fold the dough in half (the dough will be very crumbly at this point), and roll out again until the dough measures a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Fold the dough in half, then cover and freeze for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough and roll out into a rectangle of the same size. This time, fold the dough into thirds, as with a letter. Roll the dough out once more (12-inches by 8-inches) and fold again into thirds. Cover and freeze again for 20 minutes.
Roll the dough out once again and fold into thirds. Roll out one final time so the dough is a rectangle measuring 12 inches by 16 inches. Cut the dough into 12 (4-inch) squares. If, at any time, the dough begins to soften, refrigerate or freeze the pieces for a few minutes to firm up. Keep the pieces you are not currently using in the refrigerator.
Beat the egg with about 1 tablespoon water to form the egg wash.
Take 1 square of puff pastry, and, on a lightly floured board, roll it out so it is just shy of a 5-inch square. Brush two adjacent edges of the square with egg wash, then spoon about 2 tablespoons of the compote in the center of the square. Fold the square over to form a triangle, pressing the edges together to seal, then crimp using your fingers or a fork. Place the hand pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until all of the hand pies are formed.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and freeze the hand pies for about 20 minutes to thoroughly chill.
Brush the hand pies with egg wash (for darker coloring, brush the pies twice) and sprinkle over caraway seeds to garnish. Dock each pie 3 times.
Space the pies a few inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until the pies are a deep golden color and the pastry is crisp, about 25 minutes (timing will vary depending on the oven and temperature of the pies).
Cool the pies, still on the baking sheets, on a rack until set and cool enough to handle.
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