11 September 2008

Making Over Martha Month: Pâte Sucrée Meets Deb's Magic Plum Pies

From Making Over Martha

I've often seen Martha Stewart's recipes for Pâte Sucrée and Pâte Brisée in all manners of pies, tarts, and things pie-like. However, I've been too intimidated to ever try to make them because I'd have to adjust too much due to the agave nectar substitution. And, to be perfectly honest, I already have a great pie crust recipe.

But, in the spirit of Making Over Martha Month, I dove in to a recipe for Pâte Sucrée in the August issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. My intent was to make hand pies -- small, fruit-filled pies I could hold in a single hand.

From Making Over Martha

I knew I'd have some challenges with the dough, and I did, but the resulting crust was flaky, buttery, and light -- just as you'd expect of a good pie crust. Most of the directions ended up being pretty similar, but I'll include the way I made it work because there are some important differences.

For example, I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. It's a great flour and allows you to add more fiber to your diet (even if it's ensconced in 8 oz of butter). I also used agave nectar for the sugar, dividing the amount in half, as well as cutting the amount of water by half. I also omitted an egg yolk in favor of using the whole egg.

From Making Over Martha

As far as the filling goes, I kept it really simple, using just the fruit, a little corn starch, lemon juice, and agave nectar. The resulting pies were a big hit at the co-op and a gathering last Sunday that my friend Thom hosted. The sweet/tart flavor of the plum filling did a fine job of showcasing the buttery crust. On the other hand, I'd probably fiddle with this a bit more to make the crust more sturdy, yet pliable for hand pies. But, my guess is that it would make an excellent apple pie crust.

Here's the recipe as I made it.

Deb's Magic Plum Handpies, featuring Pate Sucree, inspired by Martha Stewart Living's August 2008 issue.

Makes 12-14 pies, depending on size and shape.


1 egg
1 oz cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of salt
2 sticks very cold, unsalted butter

4 plums peeled and chopped
3 pluots (a new variation on the plum bred with apricots, if your store doesn't carry them, use more plums) peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Egg Wash
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar


1. Make crust:
a. Beat together the egg, water, and agave nectar in a small bowl.
b. In your food processor, process the flour, salt, and butter until you see a crumbly texture.
c. While the processor is running, add the liquid to the mixture and process just until the dough forms a ball.
d. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic, forming a rectangle as you go. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

2. Make filling:
a. In a large bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients until they are
well combined.

3. Make egg wash:
a. Beat together all the egg wash ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Make pies:
a. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
b. On a well-floured surface, roll out the pie crust dough until 1/8 inch thick.
c. Cut either 5-inch ovals or squares, depending on the shapes you want your pies to take.
d. Spoon a small amount of the filling (about a teaspoon or less) into the center of each cut-out.
e. Using a small pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash along the edge of the top surface of your pie so it can act as a glue when you make your folds.
f. Fold up the edges of your cut-out so that you have an enclosed pie. You may need to crimp your edges if you choose to use an oblong cut-out. Using a sharp knife, make two slits in the top of your pie for steam to escape.
g. Lightly brush the top of your sealed pie with the egg wash until the entire top has a light coating.
h. Repeat steps d - g for each pie.
i. Place each pie on the lined baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes.
j. After 20 minutes, turn down the heat in the oven to 325 degrees F, rotate your pans, and continue to bake for 35 minutes.
k. Let the pies cool on their baking sheets for 5 minutes before gently moving them to racks to cool completely.
l. Enjoy!

From Making Over Martha


Catherine said...

Thank you for sharing your crust recipe! I have had an awful time trying to make an all whole-wheat pastry flour crust -- they tend to get tough and gritty on me! I'll have to try your recipe the next time I make a pie!

Deb Schiff said...

You're welcome, Catherine.

You could be running into several problems with your flour -- it may be stale. I keep mine in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge to keep fresh.

Otherwise, the more fat added to a crust, the more tender it will be. Good luck with yours!

Anonymous said...

They look like flaky little delicious morsels, I want to snatch one right up out of my computer and eat it!

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Vegalicious! That's the nicest thing I've heard! :)

Michelle said...

Deb, forst of all thank you for visiting my blog. Secondly, Oh my goodness! Just looking at your photos makes me want to run to the farmers market and make all these yummy looking items! I am afraid I have found a new obsession! I have specific food restrictions, thak you for this.

Deb Schiff said...

You're welcome, Michelle! I really enjoy the farmers' markets around here. There are so many of them! I'm glad you like the blog. :)

Cakespy said...

These are wonderful!! I have always liked the idea of hand pies but so many are deep fried. Even health concerns aside, I have always felt like that flavor is a bit much. These look much more to my liking. Yum!

Deb Schiff said...

Wow! I've been visited by the Cakespy folks! Now I know I've hit the big time. :D

Thanks for the compliments. As much as I LOVE fried food, it doesn't love me back half as much. I'm trying to bake and grill more in all my cooking, not just Altered Plates bits, for health reasons.

Also, the dough is pretty fragile. I'm not sure it would stand up to heavy frying. Two sticks of butter and deep fat...Hmmm sounds like Paula Deen to me!