So yesterday should have been #MemoryMonday, but I wanted to make bagels and had no memory of those. Instead, I give you – #MemoryTuesday!
When I was young, my family didn’t have a lot of money. In fact, we qualified for subsidized food packages. The first time my mother went to pick up our box of cheese, butter, flour, sugar, and I think bread, she was horrified. The cheese was moldy, the flour had cocoons in it and the bread was no doubt not what she was used to baking. But when times are tough, you find a way to “make do.”
That was the first and last box of food my mother got. Instead she decided to start making her own bread, getting us to drink powdered milk (that’s another whole story involving a mouse but I won’t expand on it today) and reducing the amount of cheese we ate. And tightening our belts! My father was out of work and in the early to mid-60s, “coopering” – my father’s trade, wasn’t in high demand.
But kids don’t take kindly to apples for dessert, or warm boiled rice with milk and sugar on it for a special treat. My mother gladly recounted stories of her childhood, when she ate dampened bread with sugar on it as a treat. I don’t remember ever eating that, although I have friends who remember having it at our house. Maybe it was home made bread with butter and sugar. THAT I would have enjoyed and do have a vague recollection of the gritty sweetness of butter and sugar.
I also remember my mother was making bread, and suddenly having a bit of extra dough with more butter. She turned it into her own style of Pinch Pie. She called it Pineapple Turnovers. Back in her day, I’m sure pineapples were rare. I don’t think they were sold at our local fruit stand, so it was a treat. I do remember her father, my grandfather, bringing us big baskets of gourmet food a couple times a year. He’d literally bring a laundry basket filled with jellies, jams, chocolates, smoked oysters and more.
In my mind I like to think he won those baskets in a night of poker, or had a friend in the import business. But I also bet my mother asked him to include pineapple jam in among the treats so she could make this sweet creation for us. The following recipe is in honor of my mother’s ingenuity for creating treats for kids when money was non-existent.
Apricot Pineapple Pinch Pies
Ingredients for pie crust:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks very cold butter cut into cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 6 – 8 TB ice water
- 1 beaten egg with a TB of cold water for egg wash
- Sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling on the pie
Instructions for crust:
- Put flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and stir til well blended
- Add butter and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. You want to get the mixture started and get those pieces of butter cut down to the size of large peas!
- At this point you may want to use a mixer, the less time you have your hands in the dough the better.
- Start adding water a tablespoon at a time and mix well. You want to add as little water as possible, but need to the dough to hold together if you pinch a quantity between your fingers.
- Using your hands, knead the dough into a large disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator to chill again for an hour or longer.
- When ready, remove the dough from the fridge and allow to sit for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Roll out to a thickness of approx.. 1/8 inch. If dough sticks to your work area, sprinkle a bit of flour underneath to prevent it from sticking.
- Depending on the size of pinch pies you’re making, use a glass, a saucer, or a luncheon plate as a guide to cut circles out of the dough. As you end up with small pieces, roll them again to allow as much dough as possible to be used.
Ingredients for Filling:
- 1 jar Apricot Pineapple Preserves (or jam) you can’t use jelly in place of jam, trust me!
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Pour the preserves into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon. You can really use any preserves to do this: Fig, Strawberry, Plum, the list is endless.
- Depending on the size of your dough rounds, spoon preserves onto one side of the circle, leaving a good ¾” margin around the edge. When finished, fold the other half over the preserves, and then fold up your empty edge. Use a fork to crimp the edges, and make a couple slashes in the crust covering the preserves to allow the steam to escape.
- Give each folded and crimped half round an egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Place the pies on a lightly greased cookie sheet (the grease is to keep the jam from sticking).
- Bake for 15 – 25 minutes, depending on the size of your pie and the temp of your oven. They should be puffed up and lightly browned with some juice bubbling up through the slashes, (and perhaps on your fork crimping.
- Let cool for a bit on a rack before devouring them!!!
I’ve seen pinch pies on the web that are actually meringue based. I’ve also seen the term used to describe meat based pies. I think my mother used this term (and her “turnover” phrase) because these were simple desserts made in a pinch or when we were pinching pennies. Definitely a favorite treat I still remember so many years later.
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