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A Hand Pie Summer

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, I sort through my growing collection of used records looking for the perfect one to get

the morning started on the right track.  John Denver it is. As the record player spins and the music begins to mix with aromas from the kitchen, the already too-hot morning sun warms the aloe plant that is in the ray’s path. Propped on an old vintage spool atop the kitchen table, the bright green plant filters the light across the tile counter where everything is mise en place. My apron is freshly pressed and tied loosely in the front. The mood is set. The day will be long but worth every minute. 

Today is pie day but not just any pie - cherry hand pies! My affection for cherry pie is almost as old as me. And because of this, the fillings are equal parts cherry and nostalgia. They are filled with love and a certain peace that only time alone in the kitchen can bring. 

Over the years I have seen my pie preference shift from full-size pies to hand pies. Hand pies, unlike their full-sized relatives, exude simplicity. Easy to serve and equally easy to enjoy, they are perfectly wrapped packages of summer delight that can be enjoyed around a table or while wandering through a lush summer garden. Their just-right size is perhaps one of their most sought-after qualities. Finishing that last corner leaves you yearning for just one more bite and rarely results in the all-too-common exclamations of fullness or regret. 

Desserts are meant to be sweet pleasures that elicit joy, and these small treats do just that. The made-from-scratch dough envelopes a fresh cherry filling made with locally grown cherries picked up at the front door of a local farm I have frequented for several years. Made with the simplest kitchen tools - knife, ruler, fork, and rolling pin - they truly are made by hand. Being hand-shaped, they are like snowflakes: they look the same but are each just slightly unique. Just before heading into the oven they are topped with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar or, as I like to think of it, a little extra love before packaging them and sending them on their way.

Being a small made-by-hand bakery, I often wonder about the journey my pastries and treats have when they depart from my kitchen. Are they part of a celebration or a regular but equally important morning routine? Are they enjoyed in solitude with a cup of coffee or shared with a loved one while reading the Sunday paper? Or will someone step outside in the morning to be greeted with a surprise box of treats? Although I often wonder, I like not knowing. Imagining all the possibilities is part of my journey as a baker.



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