Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blueberry Hand Pies with a Yummy Yogurt Pastry Crust from Culinary Mystery Author Cleo Coyle

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!

~ Robert Frost

With blueberry season on its way, I thought this recipe might come in handy. Yes, handy as in hand pies. Hey, no groaning. Puns are my business, along with murder (the fictional kind). And it IS tax-filing week here in the USA when murderous moods are not uncommon. 

So why not channel some of that tax-filing frustration and find a better use for your rolling pin than committing a felony... 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books 
by clicking here and here.

Hand Pies with
Yogurt Pastry Crust

When I have a hankering for hand pies, my yogurt crust is the one I choose. It's tasty and tender and also strong enough to hold together for a pan-free pie. 

The yogurt accomplishes a few things in the recipe. It slightly reduces the amount of butter and shortening thus reducing the calorie count a bit. It makes the dough easier to work with. It also boosts the crust’s flavor. The slight tanginess of the yogurt offsets the heaviness of the butter and shortening and creates a crust with a brighter flavor, one that especially complements the taste of a fruit pie. 

To download this recipe in a 
PDF format that you can print,
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Click for free Recipe PDF

Cleo's Yogurt Pastry Crust

Makes 6 or 7 hand pies, depending on size and crust thickness


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

1/4 cup (4 T) solid vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco), cold

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon water

1/4 cup plain regular yogurt - full-fat yogurt is best
     (low-fat is okay to use, but do not use nonfat yogurt)

Step 1 - Sift flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Cut butter into small slices, add solid shortening and use fingertips or pastry blender to work the fats into the flour. (Or pulse mixture in a food processor.) When the mixture resembles coarse meal, place the bowl in the refrigerator to keep cold

 Step 2 – Measure out the yogurt and place in a small bowl. Into a separate small bowl, crack two large eggs, add the 1 T. of water, and whisk vigorously until well blended. Measure out ¼ cup of this egg-water mixture and combine it with the yogurt. Using a fork, vigorously whisk the yogurt and egg-water mixture until blended and smooth. (Reserve the remaining egg-water mixture for brushing crust before baking.) 

Step 3 - Remove the bowl with the flour mixture from the refrigerator. Add the yogurt-egg mixture and stir with a spoon, rubber spatula, or your hand until a smooth dough forms. This dough will be sticky. That’s okay! Shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. The dough will be less sticky, easier to work with, and because it’s well hydrated, you can use flour as you roll it out and the dough will stay tender. When ready, lightly flour a flat surface and your rolling pin and roll out and bake according to pie or tart recipe. 

2 TIPs: Always keep pastry dough COLD. Roll hand pie crusts one at a time and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Place all formed pies back in the fridge for ten minutes before baking. If you bake the pies cold, they will have even flakier crusts.

To Make Hand Pies

Mix the filling: Gently mix 2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw) with 1 tablespoon flour (or cornstarch) and 2 tablespoons sugar (more sugar if berries are tart). Toss with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Make the pies: To make the pies, break the chilled pie dough into 6 or 7 even pieces. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll each piece into a rough circle. Dough can be rolled thin, down to about 1/8-inch, but no thinner or the pie may break while baking. 

Mound a small amount of the blueberry mixture into the lower half of the circle. Wet your finger with water and run it along the outside edge of the circle. Fold the circle over the filling and seal the pie by pressing down the edges with a fork. Trim ends with a pizza cutter or knife. 

Place finished pies on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Do this for 2 reasons. The pies may leak blueberry juice and the paper will catch this mess. The parchment paper also provides a bit of a shield from the direct heat of the pan so the pies will bake more evenly and are less likely to over-brown or burn in places.

Brush with the egg wash you reserved from making the Yogurt Pastry Crust. Sprinkle with sugar if you like. Cut a small venting slice in the top of each pie. CHILL the pies before baking and your crusts will turn out even flakier (simply slide the pan into the fridge while you preheat your oven).  


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. for at least 30 minutes. The combination of a very hot oven and cold pastry dough is what helps produce a flakier crust. 

Bake time for the pies is 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of the crust. Eat warm or allow to cool completely before topping with a drizzle of sweet glaze (recipe below).

Sweet White Drizzling Glaze

1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 Tbsp. half-and-half or light cream

Note: Milk and water will also work, but will not taste as rich and may need a bit more sugar to thicken.

Directions: Measure out the powdered sugar. Stir in half-and-half (or light cream) until all the sugar is dissolved. With a wire whisk or fork, whisk the mixture until it appears smooth and without a single clump. Test on a plate. The glaze should drizzle easily but should not be thin or watery, and it should set in about ten minutes. If the glaze is too thin and watery, add a little more sugar. If too thick, add a bit more liquid. When you’re happy with the consistency, dip a fork into the glaze and pass the tines back and forth over the top of each completely cooled hand pie to create a drizzling effect.

Eat with springtime joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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  1. Oh, joy! A new pie crust recipe! I'll add it to the 14 or 15 that I've tried so far (and I don't like most of them because they fall apart). We'll have to wait a bit for local blueberries, though.

  2. Cannot wait for blueberry season--thanks Cleo for the gorgeous pies!

  3. You hand pies are beautiful. Although I have made it with cream, yogurt pastry is a new one to me. I will have to try this.

  4. These look and sounds scrumptious! I think I'll try them with frozen Maine blueberries. Those have such an amazing flavor.

  5. Sheila, Lucy, Tonette, and Libby -- thanks for dropping by today and taking the time to comment. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

    Libby, I absolutely agree on the Maine blueberries (fresh or frozen). I just finished off a jar of Maine blueberry preserves--heaven! And one of the reasons I posted this recipe was because my local store had a sale on frozen blueberries last week. These pies are delicious with fresh or frozen, and I can't wait for the fresh berries to start rolling into our local stores. Come on, summer!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter