sweet berry handpies
Well, this week I got a hankerin’ to make Sweet Berry Hoedown hand-pies! You see, on Sundays we always take my spunky 80 year old Mama-in-law, Ruth, to church with us and then we usually head on over to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Well, this past week Mama Ruth shared a few stories with us, over a plate of steaming chicken n’ dumplings, about her happy childhood days growing up in the small farming town of Bennington, Oklahoma (close to the Texas border). She told how her mama, Jennie Mae, was quite a cook and of course made everything from scratch. She had chickens, hogs, a milk cow and a huge garden. She grew everything her family of TEN ate! The only food items that she purchased in town at Jake Brown’s Mercantile store were only the things she couldn’t grow herself (sugar, flour, salt, and sometimes clean, white lard for her pies). She made do with what she had, was very resourceful and would often say, “I use up everything but the squeal of a pig”.  Jennie Mae’s specialty were her delicious cakes and pies that she baked every Friday. In her bustling household, the weekends always meant “company was comin'”. So the flour would fly and the rolling pin kept busy as she whipped up 6 pies…two fruit, two chocolate, two cream, along with 2  three-layer cakes and a couple dozen or so sweet berry hand-pies.

img_9970Here is my hubby’s sweet grandma, Jennie Mae Archer Cox standing with her hubby, grandpa Maynard Cox.


Ruth said her mama, Jennie Mae, had a huge blackberry patch that stretched 30 yards in the back of the house. They had such an abundance of berries, that Ruth couldn’t remember a time there wasn’t a bowl of fresh, juicy berries on the table at supper time.


She said her mama canned jars and jars of berries and stored them in the cool underground cellar…the place they ran to for safety whenever the dark, looming storm clouds gave an eerie hint of a possible tornado.  The berry preserves, canned soups and vegetables provided the family nourishment through the winter and were always accompanied at the table with hot ‘n Fresh homemade buttermilk biscuits and cornbread from the wood cook-stove. She made berry jam, berry syrup, and berry pie filling. With all this talk about berries my mouth was watering!


My mama-in-law Ruth told how every Saturday her family would hitch the horse to the wagon and head into town to catch up on neighborly news with friends and buy supplies at Jake Brown’s Mercantile. She  remembers  sometimes getting 10 cents to spend on some goodies and an ice-cream cone. They had to make it back home before nightfall to feed the chickens, milk the cow and get ready for the hoedown held weekly on Saturday nights at their homestead.


(Jennie Mae’s home looked very similar to this old farmhouse on the Oklahoma Prairie. This one has seen better days, but oh the stories it could tell!)

Company was comin’ so the whole family would pitch in to carry their table, chairs and even the beds outside in front of their farmhouse for the folks to sit on when they arrived. Jennie Mae would set out her delicious pies and cakes on the long harvest table. Almost every family brought an instrument to play…fiddles…banjos and guitars.


Every Saturday evening on the Cox’s homestead was filled with music, laughter and dancing under the Oklahoma stars in that little town of Bennington. Farm-folks knew how to have fun! Don’t you just know that Jennie Mae’s homemade pies, cakes and berry hand-pies were the talk of the town!

sweet berry handpies

In honor of Grandma Jennie Mae, I whipped up a batch of berry hand-pies to brighten the grey of winter with a little summer sweetness! If only there was a happy hoedown to bring them to!


Sweet Berry Hoedown Hand-Pies

14 oz. package (or 4 cups) of mixed berries (or blackberries) Fresh or frozen

1 cup of sugar,

1/4 cup corn starch (sifted into pot)

1/4 cup water.

Stir well. Bring mixture to a boil until it thickens, stirring constantly. Let cool. Then add;

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 Tablespoon butter

While the berry mixture is cooling, make your pie crust. Trim and cut pie dough into quarters then fill each piece with 2 Tablespoons of berry filling. Seal, crimp and cut vents, chill hand-pies for 1/2 hour in fridge. Then baste with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake at 425 for 15-17 minutes, until light golden brown.

Here’s how I made my berry hand-pies:

img_9994Bring the berry mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. img_9997

Turn off heat to cool.


Stir in 1 Tablespoon of salted butter. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest…I learned this yummy hint from the Queen of Pies, Linda Hundt, owner of Sweetie-licious bakery cafe in DeWitt, Michigan. The orange zest adds a bright, happy ray of sunshine to the flavor of the berries!


You’ll need a double crust (two single pie crusts) click here for my recipe  or you can use your own favorite recipe. Roll out crust into two 12 inch circles, trim off the jagged edge with a knife.


Cut the pie crust circle into quarters and  add two Tablespoons of  the cooled berry filling in the center.
Seal the edge with water and fold over, pressing the edges together.


Make a pretty ruffled edge with the end of a wooden spoon by pressing firmly all around the hand pie, or you can use a fork.


With a sharp knife, make three cuts to let the steam vent. At this point it’s best to chill the hand-pies for a half hour in the fridge.

You can also freeze them at this point until the day you want to bake them, then follow the next few steps:


Whisk one egg and a tablespoon of water.


Baste the tops of the hand pies with the egg wash.


Generously sprinkle sugar on top. I used raw Turbinado sugar because its chunky and crunchy, but you can use what you have. Bake at 425 for 15 to 17 minutes. That’s it!


You might have a couple tablespoons of the filling left…if so, you can keep it in the refrigerator to spread on an English muffin or toast on another day… or just grab a spoon, sit yourself down and go to town sis-tah!sweet berry handpies

This recipe makes 8 hand pies. They are perfect for road trips, picnics and…hoedowns!

pies in a pot
I found these sweet Glassine Wax Paper bags here and added a cute heart sticker. These bags are so old fashioned and would also be cute to package cookies too! I stacked them in this cute vintage red and white enamelware pan for a fun, farmy presentation.


Here’s to sweet Jennie Mae for blessing the hearts of Oklahoma farm-folks so long ago!

Thanks for stopping by for some

Sweet Berry Hoedown Hand-Pies!

Sending Sugar and hugs!

Aunt Ruthie

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