I was raised around an Indian kitchen table, which meant I ate with my hands. There was no designated “finger food”: it was all finger food, which is why I have a particular fondness for any dish that suggests, in name or form, that you don’t need cutlery to eat it. These American-style hand pies are a case in point: they are essentially neat little sugared parcels crammed with as much fruit as you can squeeze in. Peaches and strawberries are my favourites, though you can use any fruit that will go jammy and soft and boil out of the top of pastry, creating a chewy, pastille-like jelly that you can peel off with your teeth when the pies have cooled.
If you don’t feel like making your own pastry, use a 500g block of readymade vegan shortcrust pastry such as Jus-Rol, and skip to the part in the method where you heat the oven.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr
For the pastry
(or use 500g readymade)
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp icing sugar
150g sunflower spread – I like Biona
For the filling
2 peaches (200g), stoned and chopped into 1cm pieces
100g strawberries, hulled and chopped into 1cm pieces
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp icing sugar
Big pinch of ground black pepper
3 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
To make the pastry, put the flour, salt, icing sugar and sunflower spread in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mix is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Pour in two tablespoons of cold water and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. Bring into a ball with your hands, flatten into a disc, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
While the pastry is chilling, heat the oven to 210C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. To make the filling, in a bowl, combine the peaches, strawberries, cornflour, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, icing sugar and pepper.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thick. Using a 12cm cutter (or a small bowl), cut out 10 circles; you’ll probably need to re-roll the pastry scraps to get the final few circles out.
Take one pastry circle and spoon a heaped tablespoon of the filling (leaving behind any liquid) on the right-hand half. Fold over the left-hand side, to create an enclosed, half-moon-shaped pie. Use a fork to crimp around the edges to seal and make a rough pattern. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.
Transfer the pies to the lined trays, brush with the milk, then slash the top of each pie and sprinkle over the granulated sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until deeply golden brown, and don’t worry if the pies explode a little – that’s all part of their charm. Serve warm or at room temperature.