Spider Cake and Handpies

Emma Ameden “Grammy-o”

Like many of us may do, the recollection of my grandmother  (Emma, or “Grammy-o”), are intertwined with memories of home comfort, family meals and always…food.

On a door rack in the lower cupboard of the Hoosier Cabinet in my kitchen, sits the recipe book that was inspired by my grandmother’s cookbooks. Her  3-ring binders with handwritten recipes and  cut-out clippings glued onto paper pages, inspired me to start my own after I graduated from high school and lived in a cabin in South Londonderry.  In it, I copied down my favorites of her recipes.

As I looked through her cookbook, I loved how over the years she would write in her own changes: other ingredients, cooking times as well as references to other recipes and their corresponding page numbers. Though I am convinced she had many of these recipes memorized and could have made her signature “Blond Brownies” in her sleep, she always had her recipe book open on the counter next to her.

After receiving some requests for another recipe post, I opened up my cookbook and found two of Grammy-o’s recipes that seemed to pair very well together, (though I do not remember her pairing them): Meat Hand Pies and New England Spider Cake.

recipe from my book

I wrote this recipe down as Grammy-o told it to me.

Using Under Orion Farm’s beef (of course!) and apple slices I dried from my trees last fall, the hand pies were very, very good and perfect for a rainy night. Paired up with the warm, creamy spider cake alongside a fresh green salad and it’s a meal I will be making again in the near future.

I share them here, and ask that when you try these, say a thank you to Emma and to all the other grandmothers who have not only cooked for us, but who have saved and passed down these wonderful recipes for us and our children to enjoy. Thanks Grammy-o!

cooking the savory filling for the hand pie

Meat Hand pies

assembling hand pies

ready for the oven

Meat Handpies

1/2 cup mixed dried fruit, cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 T vegetable oil
small yellow onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Pastry dough, chilled, enough for a two crust pie

1 egg
1 T cream

1. In a small bowl, cover dried fruit with water and let soak. Set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil. When hot, but not smoking, add onion and saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Add cinnamon and cloves and saute another 1 minute.
3. Add beef, salt and pepper, breaking up the beef as it cooks. Drain fruit and add to beef mixture. Let cool.
4. Whisk together egg and cream. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8″. Using a large biscuit cutter (3 1/2″), cut out an even number of circles.
5. Place 1 T of beef mixture on half of the pastry rounds. Brush edges of pastry with egg wash. Top with other half of pastry rounds and crimp shut with a fork.
6. Place handpies on an ungreased baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush rounds with egg wash and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Pouring cream into the center of the batter

Pouring cream into the center of the spider cake prior to baking

fresh from the oven, spider cake

fresh from the oven!

New England Spider Cake

2 cups milk
4 tsp white vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp soda
2 eggs
2 T butter
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine milk and vinegar in a bowl and set aside to sour. In a another bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk eggs into the soured milk. Stir into dry ingredients and set batter aside.
2. Melt butter in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Pour in the batter. Pour cream into the center, slide skillet into the oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 45 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings

Hand pies and spider cake, ready to eat!

Ready to eat!


5 responses to “Spider Cake and Handpies

  1. wow two things i think i never had!!! i think it’s time to make another batch of blond brownies and hope it comes out though!

  2. Those look so delicious–thanks for sharing! I have my own grandmother’s binder full of recipes, and it’s my favorite of all of my cookbooks, which doesn’t have to do with the recipes in it as much as the connection with my grandma.

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