Apple Butter Ginger Hand Pies


Rolling out dough for hand pies

A Trip to the Orchard

Apples, ready to pick

“Look, Samuel, I mean to make a garden of my land. Remember my name is Adam. So far I’ve no Eden, let alone been driven out.” It’s the best reason I ever heard for making a garden, “ Samuel exclaimed. He chuckled. “Where will the orchard be?” Adam said, “I won’t plant apples. That would be looking for accidents.” “What does Eve say to that? She has a say, remember. And Eves delight in apples.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Working with the dough to create hand pies


Autumn arrived. We felt it ease into our days. The bright late afternoon sun gave way to crisp nights and mornings. By the first week in November, the Indian summer was gone. A longing for apples, pumpkins, pears, and all manner of things warm and comforting replaced our sandals and juicy ripe tomatoes. Hazy thoughts of apple pie came into focus. Childhood memories of trips to the orchards of Pajaro Valley mingled with the remembered scent of ripe apples and the warmth of cinnamon. As a young child a bushel of apples seemed daunting to me. I knew I would be standing on a stool and peeling, until the box was empty!

But my task was always rewarded with my Mom’s irresistible apple pie or when she was pressed for time, an indulgent apple crisp.

A trip to Gizdich Ranch during apple harvest was a welcome to autumn and share with Athena a fellow blogger and photographer. When we arrived, the early morning fog was retreating into a bright sunny morning. After spending time in the orchard we had a slice of warm apple pie and a very difficult time deciding what type of apples to bring home for our own cooking adventures. I choose Newtown Pippins and Pinovas to make traditional apple pie. Then I made apple butter and made these hand pies!


I just discovered hand pies. I had a great time making them. I used my favorite pie crust recipe. Your favorite crust will certainly adapt to this recipe. Once you have the crust and your favorite apple butter, these go together very quickly. Using apple butter as a filling ensures you have a concentrated burst of apple flavor in each bite and makes the folding and shaping of the hand pies very easy. I highly recommend adding the ginger. Just a bit really complements the apple butter.

Inspired and adapted from Pies and Tarts by Martha Stewart

Hot tea and freshly-baked hand pies

2 1/2 C all purpose flour, more for rolling out the dough
1 t salt
1/2 C cold butter
1/2 C cold vegetable shortening
1/2 C ice water
1 C apple butter, homemade is best
2 T candied ginger, optional
  To finish
2 T ginger syrup, or milk
2 T sugar
  1. Prepare the crust dough: I use my food processor. Whirl flour and salt in the food processor with blade attachment to mix. Cut cold butter and shortening into cubes. Add the butter to food processor. Pulse until butter is the size of large peas. Do not over mix. Add the shortening and pulse a few more times until the size of large peas. In increments add enough cold water through feed tube until the dough starts to come together. Do not over mix. Pour dough out on floured work surface. With as little handling as possible bring dough together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour, prior to rolling out.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large sheet pan with parchment.
  3. Prepare hand pies: With a floured rolling pin, on a floured work surface roll out the pie crust dough in a large circle. As needed, add small amount of flour to the surface when rolling out the dough. Roll out dough until it is approximately 1/8″ thick. Cut the dough into 4 1/2″ circles. Gather the scraps together and roll out again to make more hand pies. I used the rim of a bowl as my template. In the middle, front half of each circle of dough place 2 T of apple butter. Spread the apple butter a bit, but leave a 1/2″ edge for sealing. Sprinkle each pie with a bit of candied ginger. Moisten the edge of each pie with cold water. (I found my fingertips were more accurate than a pastry brush) Fold the unfilled edge of the pie over the filled side. Push only the moistened outer edges together, and seal with your fingers. I used cookie cutters to cut shapes from the dough scraps to decorate my hand pies; totally optional. The backs of the decorative elements are brushed with water and gently pressed onto the hand pies. Lightly brush the tops with ginger syrup and a sprinkle of sugar.
  4. Bake: For 15-20 minutes. The hand pies will puff a bit and be a light golden brown on the edges when done.
  5. To plate: Cool the hand pie for a thirty minutes prior to eating. The apple butter is hot!
Apple trees

Apple trees

Tractors parked at end of season

Tractors parked at end of season

Early morning Watsonville fog lifting from the orchard

Early morning Watsonville fog lifting from the orchard

Farm implements at rest

Farm implements at rest

Orchard ladders parked for the season

Orchard ladders parked for the season

Newtown Pippin and Pinova apples

Newtown Pippin and Pinova apples

Rolling pins: mine, my mother's and my mother-in-law's

Rolling pins: mine, my mother's and my mother-in-law's

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24 Responses to Apple Butter Ginger Hand Pies

  1. Awww your pies are so beautiful!!! I love how you’ve decorated them, and are they wrapped in washi paper?

    • Deb says:

      Hi Jennifer, Glad you enjoyed my Hand Pies! The paper is an origami paper: Chiyogami I believe. I’ve have it stashed with my craft items for some time and thought to use with a parchment lining to make a pocket for the Hand Pies.

  2. These are absolutely darling! I love how the filling has apple butter and crystallized ginger. Sounds delicious! Going to browse more recipes now. 🙂

    • Deb says:

      So glad you enjoyed my post! The Hand Pies are delightful. I was amazed at the exceptional flavor from the apple butter. Coupled with the ginger they are enticing.

  3. Oh these sound sooo yummy! I just made some homemade apple butter…I am definitely giving this recipe a try! 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Please do let me know how your Hand Pies turn out, my family loved them! And they went together so quickly since the apple butter filling had already been prepared.

  4. Claire says:

    Hi, the pies look so tempting and inviting 🙂 Lovely photos too !

  5. These little pies are so cute! The apple butter and ginger filling sounds so great, and the cut dough shapes on top look fantastic. Love the photos from the orchard too.

    • Deb says:

      The Hand Pies were so much fun to make; I will be trying some others along the way. Apple butter is a new favorite of mine and pared with ginger just delightful!

  6. athena says:

    Oh these are sooo cute! Fun times at the apple farm. Now that I’m a pro at pie crust dough 😉 I can give this a try. Did you find out how to make the apple butter in a crockpot?

    • Deb says:

      I will need more apples if I want to make apple butter in the crockpot, mine are all gone! I used the last of mine in an apple pie for Christmas. The recipes I’ve seen use the crockpot as the last step in cooking the apple butter. After the apples are cooked and put through the food mill, they are placed into the crockpot to finish cooking. Sounds like a great alternative to standing at the stove, stirring and checking!

  7. Gretchen says:

    What a great topic! I think pies are having a revival based on what I’ve just seen on our recent trip to the US. Your pictures of the apple orchard are fantastic – especially the implements. You’re making me homesick for wide open spaces 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Thanks Gretchen! The trip to the orchard was great fun! The Pajaro Valley is inland from the coast and is known for apples in the fall and berries in the summer. Not sure about mainstream food trends, but pies are always popular at my house!

  8. Kim Bee says:

    These are so beautiful. I have to try these out. I adore the way you wrapped them in paper. So cute, makes a wonderful presentation. Your pictures are stunning.

  9. Your pies look delicious and made even more so with the paper wraps! I wish we could grow apples here, but we don’t have enough cold nighttime temps to do so.

  10. Heather Joy says:

    tasty and cute! I love what I’ve seen of your blog so far!

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  13. These pies are adorable, Deb! They are so beautifully decorated…Putting them in paper pockets makes great to transport them everywhere. Love, love the idea!

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