"If it reminds you of your grandmother--or McDonald's--then people will like it," says Avery Wittcamp, the pastry chef at Williamsburg's Marlow & Sons restaurant. Her apple hand pies--rectangular pockets of flaky pastry filled with sweet caramelized apples--succeed on both counts. The secret ingredient that binds grandma's pie with the unholy deliciousness of the golden arches? Suet.
Wittcamp gets this dry, crumbly fat--the beef version of baker-revered leaf lard--from the butchers down the block at Marlow & Daughters (they'll sell you some, too, for $1.50 a pound). It has a high melting point, which produces more pliant pastry dough than butter, and creates a supremely flaky crust. The flavor is noticeably savory, but Wittcamp deems it less so than lard. "It's a great foil for anything really sweet," she says.
Wittcamp's apple hand pies will soon be available in the storefront of Marlow & Sons and they're currently on the dessert menu next door at Diner, served with house-made ice cream and salty caramel sauce ($8). Meat pies made with the same crust and stuffed with everything from duck to Jamaican spiced beef will also be on sale at the butcher shop.