I am throwing a small party this weekend, but I had to start some of my baking early, because I certainly can’t do it all in one day! My knees start to give out after standing in the kitchen for one too many hours, and I get…well…cranky, to say the least. I would never make it as a line cook, I’ll say that much. So, due to my inability to power through a full day of baking and cooking, I made these pies last weekend, froze them, and then I plan to simply throw them on a baking sheet and heat them through before my guests arrive. I hope I’m not the only one who does this – I really do, because nobody should have to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and start sweating it out in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, though; I love throwing parties. It’s an excuse to try out some new recipes, to shake up some fun cocktails, and, of course, to put together a playlist (even though I’ve mostly been listening to the same bands for the past 10 years – when did I get so old?). I’m excited to throw one or two more get togethers before the summer heat makes it unbearable to do so; in New York, between the humidity, heat, and lack of central air, mid-summer house parties make me want to rip my hair out. Thankfully, the weather has been beautiful and breezy all week and will supposedly continue to be that way into the weekend.
I always find that when throwing a party, it’s easiest to pick a food theme in order to organize your shopping list and come up with a coherent menu. The theme doesn’t have to be obvious to your guests – there is nothing I despise more than a non-Halloween costume party – but it always proves to be tremendously helpful when I am sitting at home trying to figure out what kind of tasty, finger-food-friendly, not-too-messy things to serve. I settled on these buttermilk hand pies, as they are small enough to fit in your hand, perfectly compact, and absolutely delicious. I rarely buy real buttermilk; I never remember and the old lemon juice or vinegar mixed with milk usually does the trick, but trust me: get real buttermilk for this recipe. You want to be able to taste that tangy, sweet flavor in the custard filling, as well as in the crust! These little pies are soft and tender, and go well with everything from a cup of tea to an IPA, plus they require very few ingredients and come together in no time at all. Sometimes the best things are the most simple things, as these pies most certainly prove.
- 2⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 10-11 tablespoons ice cold buttermilk
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs
- First, make your crust. Whisk together the flour and sugar, then add in the cubed butter and cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter or your hands, until pea-sized crumbs form. Add in the buttermilk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes, just to get it nice and cold.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Divide your dough into 2 pieces, then lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out to about ⅛-inch thick. Lightly grease your pans and cut the dough into circles a bit bigger than your muffin cups. Place the circles of dough into your muffin cups, crimping the edges as necessary. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the filling.
- To make the filling, simply whisk together your buttermilk, sugar, flour, butter, and eggs, then divide them among your miniature pies. I put about 2-3 teaspoons of filling in for each pie. Bake the pies on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes or so, until the crust is slightly golden and the filling is set. Allow them to cool in the pans, then pop them out and serve. These will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.