Hand Pie Shells(Tortilla Press Method)

25 hand pies
50 min

A tortilla Press is not solely used for or limited to making tortillas. It is way more useful than it appears. Be it naan, pita, a thin pizza crust ,hand pie shells,a tart crust, the options are endless. Not only does it significantly reduce the time it takes to roll out perfectly even pie shells; it produces round individual size pastries, with uniform thickness. Hence, making them easier to cook.

I use the cast iron tortilla press which is hailed as the most effective in the market. It has a thick base and heavy top which makes it easier to press the tortillas. Because it is heavy, it makes it more difficult to clean than it's aluminium counterpart. After using the cast iron press for a while, you will notice some black residue will start to form. Even though this is not harmful since the dough is always placed between two parchment papers before pressing it down with the lever, it is important to clean it with a damp cloth and season with a light coat of oil.


The options are endless as far as flavors go. While others may prefer a sweet filling, I grew up eating meat and fish pies; a savory and extremely delicious street food which you will find in every city in Cameroon.There is also a possibility of doing a strictly vegetarian filling. The choice is yours.

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Hand Pie Shells(Tortilla Press Method)
Recipe details
  • 25  hand pies
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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Pie filling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 large tomato
  • 250 grams minced meat
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp bouillon powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 125 grams peas
  • ½ yellow bell pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
Pie Shell
  • 500 grams flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 grams ice cold butter
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 egg

Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add shallot, garlic paste and tomatoes.Cook for about 3 minutes. The tomato should blister a little on the skin. Add minced meat and mix to incorporate.Add the curry powder, paprika,black pepper, salt, beef bouillon powder and water. Cover with a lid to let the water reduce.
Take the lid off. Add peas, bell peppers, cornflour. Mix everything together, take off heat and set aside to cool.
Cut cold butter into 3 inch cubes. In a food processor, add salt and baking powder to flour. Pulse to incorporate. Add the butter, and pulse until butter is broken down into large peas.
While running the food processor, slowly add ice cold water in tablespoons until all the water is added and mixture begins to come together. What you will end up with is a very crumbly mixture. Do not be tempted to add more water.
Take crumbly dough out of the food processor and pour on your work surface. Use your hands to bring the dough together, without kneading. Wrap in a cling film and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or up to 1 month.
Making the Pies
Open tortilla press. Place parchment paper on bottom plate . Add a piece of dough on parchment paper and another parchment paper on the dough. Close the press and use lever to press the lid flat.
Take the flattened dough out of tortilla press, place 1 tbsp of filling in the center, fold over dough to form half moon shape.Press edges and crimp.
Place pies on parchment lined baking sheet, brush the top with egg wash and bake at 180°c for 20 minutes.
Winnie Khamal Macbailey
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