Recipe by chef Travis Milton and pastry chef Lisa Donovan
For the dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1⅔ cups butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup chilled buttermilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the plum preserves:
4 pounds Damson plums
½ cup water
7 cups sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup sorghum
To assemble hand pies:
Canola oil or lard, as needed
Make the dough:
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Transfer to food processor and pulse a few times, about 4 seconds per pulse, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal.
Return mixture to bowl, add buttermilk and vinegar, and use your hands to work liquids into a crumbly mixture. As dough begins to form, fold it over itself. (This process will create layers, ensuring a flaky crust.)
Once dough has come together, transfer it to a floured surface and divide it in half. Wrap each half tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Make the filling:
Using a paring knife, cut a shallow “x” in the bottom of each plum, then and blanch in hot water for 2 minutes. Transfer plums to an ice bath. When plums have cooled, peel them and cut each in half to remove the pit.
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook on low, stirring often to avoid burning. Cook until plums have broken down and mixture is thick, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Process preserves in four pint jars, or use immediately to fill hand pies.
Assemble the hand pies:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough to ¼-inch thick. Working quickly, use 4½-inch ring mold to cut out circles. Discard leftover dough and refrigerate circles for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat eggs for an egg wash and set aside.
Working in batches, remove three to four circles at a time from refrigerator. Brush edges of dough lightly with egg wash. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling in each center and fold. Press down around edges thoroughly, sealing with fingers or a fork. Transfer finished hand pies to refrigerator while working on remaining circles.
In a cast-iron skillet fitted with deep fry thermometer, bring 3 inches of canola oil or lard to 350 degrees. Fry hand pies until golden brown. (Alternately, you can bake hand pies in a 350-degree oven for 14 minutes. Brush tops with more egg wash before they go in the oven.)