March 6, 2015

Lemon Poppy Hand Pies for ‘Pi Day’

Hand Pies 6

Other than cooking/baking measurements, there’s not much I enjoy about numbers.  Math has always been my least favorite thing in the world, probably because I suck at, BUT that won’t stop me from celebrating a mathematical holiday called ‘Pi Day’.

Celebrated March 14th around the world, Pi Day commemorates ‘Pi’ – the mathematical symbol representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14.  I know I sound like I’m interested in Pi, but it’s only because I’m interested in PIE.  When I began brainstorming March/Spring recipes, I knew I had to use this unofficial holiday as an excuse to make & share a delicious pie recipe.

Creating pie crust from scratch can be intimidating because we all aim to achieve that perfectly flakey crust.  After watching enough Food Network, doing research & giving the dough a try for myself, I’m no longer scared.  Plus, I’m eating one of these pies while typing this and I promise, homemade crust is SO worth it!  If you’re totally against making pie dough from scratch, feel free to use Pillsbury pie crust.  If you’re ready to jump in, remember:

Ina Pie Dough

Although the crust is delicious, the star of this recipe is my lemon ‘curd’.  Curd sounds a bit yucky but before I try to pass it off as ‘custard’, there is a difference!  Curd has more acidity due to the lemony-citrus flavor, whereas custard is much sweeter.  I guess I’ll have to look past the word curd.  What makes this recipe so delicious, is the combination of Meyer lemons & average tart lemons.  The Meyer lemons are a touch sweeter than what we’re used to, so the marriage of the two makes this recipe the perfect combination of both sweet and tart.  Lemon curd is extremely versatile, but in the spirit of keeping with the Pi Day theme, I decided to make hand pies, miniature pies, turnovers – whatever you’d like to call them. 

The Tips

Lemon Curd 1

Lemon Curd 3

Hand Pies 1

Hand Pies 2

Hand Pies 3

Hand Pies 5

Hand Pies 4


Lemon Poppy Hand Pies
Yields 22
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  1. Pie crust (Either Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts or follow Ina Garten's 'Perfect Pie Crust' recipe - The link is located in my blog post.)
  2. For the Lemon Curd -
  3. Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  4. Juice of 3 Meyer lemons
  5. Juice of 1/2 traditional lemon
  6. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  7. 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 3 extra large eggs
  10. 3 extra large egg yolks
  11. For the Poppy Topping -
  12. Egg wash - Using a fork, whisk 2 eggs & a splash of cold water until combined.
  13. 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  1. Make the lemon curd - In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon juices, zest, sugar, butter & salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently over low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisking constantly, gradually pour half the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining lemon mixture. (Note: It's important to whisk constantly and pour slowly to temper the eggs without scrambling them!) Cook over low heat, scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Pour the curd through a mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees then line 2 baking sheets with parchment or greased tin foil. Set aside.
  3. Make the hand pies - Roll out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or bowl, cut circles 4-inches in diameter; the circles can be larger but this will affect bake time. Place each circle on the prepared baking sheets, then scoop 1-2 teaspoons of the chilled lemon curd on to the middle of each circle. Using a brush, paint a bit of egg wash around the edges of each circle, then fold them in half. With a fork, seal the edges completely then using a sharp knife, cut 2-3 slits atop each pie to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of each pie with egg wash then sprinkle as many poppy seeds as desired. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove & cool completely before enjoying. Store extra pies in the refrigerator to keep the curd fresh, then heat in the oven when ready to eat.
  1. In an air-tight container, lemon curd will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator and for at least 1 month in the freezer.
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet
Lana del Crave

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