There are not many things I like more than autumn and an artistic little baking project. For that reason, I’m super excited to share with you my latest recipe and baking tutorial. Today, I’ll show you how to create watercolor-painted hand pies!
These delectable little pockets of flaky crust are filled with a luscious and sweet apple pie filling. Then, they’re gilded with edible, homemade “watercolor” paint. Inspired by the circular shape, I chose to turn my hand pies into little flowers, but feel free to get creative with this process! If you’re not so much an apple fan, be sure to check out my Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Hand Pie recipe, too!
Watercolor-Painted Hand Pies Tutorial
First, I’ll share with you a list of all the materials you’ll need to complete this baking project. Then, I’ll walk you through the technical steps to paint your pies. Finally, you can peruse my favorite apple pie recipe, and find the simple steps to turn it into a hand pie recipe — it’s seriously delicious! So, let’s begin!
Tools You’ll Need
Before beginning any project in the kitchen, it’s important to gather all of your materials! Below, you’ll find all that you need. I’ve included links (affiliate) for your easy shopping and reference.
- Food processor or a pastry cutter. I prefer to use the food processor to cut the butter into the flour because it’s less messy. However, either tool will suffice.
- Rolling pin
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- Round cookie cutter, any size
- Pastry brush
- Food-safe paint brushes
- Gel food coloring
- Plastic paint palette
- Clear, food-grade alcohol (like white rum or vodka)
How To Watercolor-Paint on Pie Crust
To make your watercolor paints, simply mix a few drops of the food-grade alcohol with a drop or two of your gel food coloring and mix to combine. The more alcohol you use to dilute the color, the lighter it will appear. On the other hand, using less alcohol retains more potency and vibrancy of the food coloring. You can see an example of this in the photo below — both shades were achieved with the exact same gel food coloring. Mix together a few colors in your paint palette, leaving some shades dark and others lighter for a nice contrasting effect.
Then, dip your paintbrush into a paint color and gently apply it to the unbaked, frozen hand pie. Start light, and add more color as you go. With watercolors, it’s very easy to apply darker shades over lighter ones. However, it’s almost impossible to apply a lighter shade over a darker color.
It also helps to have a large, clean glass of water nearby, as well as a paper towel, to clean your brush between colors. This also helps prevent all of your watercolors from turning the same, blended shade.
If you missed it, be sure to check out my Royal Icing Watercolor Tutorial, here. In it, I thoroughly discuss this same method of edible painting. Here are some more tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your hand pies are frozen before you begin to paint them. Not only does this provide a nice, solid “canvas,” but it also ensures that the butter won’t melt out of the crust as quickly. You want the butter to stay chilled for an ultra-flaky pie crust result.
- It’s helpful to learn a little about watercolor methods before beginning to paint. For example, a “wet-on-wet” technique provides a very different visual result than a “wet-on-dry.” Do a bit of Googling to see what techniques you prefer. Then, utilize the same idea when working with your edible watercolor paints.
- Since unbaked pie crust has a light tan color that darkens as it bakes, light “watercolors” don’t show up very well. When planning out your design, try to stick to darker ones to ensure they are visible.
Delicious Apple Hand Pies Recipe
To create your delicious apple hand pies, follow my traditional apple pie recipe here, taking note of a few adjustments:
- Due to the logistics of sealing the hand pies, versus simply filling one pie crust with a mound of filling, you’ll need to halve the apple pie filling recipe, and double the pie crust recipe. This will result in about 2 dozen hand pies, depending on how you cut them.
- Be sure to finely dice your apples, rather than just slicing them. Since the hand pies are smaller than a traditional pie, you’ll want the apple pieces inside to be smaller, too.
- Carefully watch the apples while they’re cooking on the stove. Since they’ll be smaller in size, you will have less of a window during which to stop the cooking between the texture being too hard and complete mush. As soon as you can easily pierce an apple with a fork, remove them from the heat.
- Instead of drizzling on top of the pie the reduced apple/caramel liquid, mix the liquid back in with the apples before filling the hand pies. Otherwise, the liquid may leak out of the edges.
- Obviously, instead of rolling out two crusts (top and bottom) like a normal pie, you’ll use your cookie cutter to cut out small circles. Line them all up on a baking sheet. Then, place two to three tablespoons of apple pie filling on half of those circles. Place the remaining circles of pie crust on top of each filled crust — use the pastry brush to apply some of the egg wash around the edges to ensure they stick together. Then, press the edges together with your fingers, or use a fork for a better seal.
- As with a normal pie, you’ll need to make a small slit (vent) on the top of each hand pie to allow the release of steam.
- Remember, place the hand pies in the freezer before and after painting — do not thaw before baking.
- To bake, preheat the oven to 375 F and bake for 32-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool before consuming.
Enjoy Your Water-Color Painted Hand Pies
I hope you enjoy this fun, little dessert craft as much as I did! Feel free to comment with any questions, and let me know if you’re planning on trying this technique for yourself!
Don’t forget to find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch, and be sure to tag me in any photos you post! I love to see your works of culinary art.
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Take care guys! Until next time…
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