One of my favorite parts of the summer as a child was visiting my Grandma and Papaw’s house. Ten miles outside of town, the rolling acres of pines and cotton fields seemed to go on forever. Real life seemed worlds away.
Summer also meant fresh watermelon, breakfast for dinner and always, always homemade fried pies. Apple, peach and strawberry, or whatever was fresh or available, and always cooked in an iron skillet.
There are a few schools of thought on the crust for these Southern delicacies. Some will tell you a fried pie shall only be made of biscuit dough and some will say only pie dough. In all honestly, I would never turn down either. And I reckon my grandma used what was available.
I really wanted to make these for the kids, now that fresh strawberries and other fruits were coming into season. But in a house without gluten, I had to come up with a satisfactory dough recipe.
Basically, with pie dough you’re looking for flaky, light and buttery. Keep your ingredients cold, and always remember never overmix your crust.
Since gluten is out, a little psyllium husk powder is a great binder. Even with the xanthan gum, the psyllium adds that bit of extra strength to make this dough keep its shape and not get too gummy.
For the fruit filling, I chose strawberries and plums. My grandma would have cooked the filling down, but I wanted the flavor to maintain is freshness, so I opted for a fresh version.
Just as I would in any other pie, I used tapioca flour (you can use the instant, too) to thicken up the filling during baking.
Although frying is the most traditional way to cook these lovelies, I chose to bake them, to eliminate a little bit of the grease-factor. I mean, they are 1/4 butter.
What resulted from my hours of intense research one Sunday afternoon were a dozen or so petite fruit-filled pies and a house full of gluten-free happiness.
Strawberry-Plum Hand Pies
- 1 ½ cups Twinkle’s All-Purpose Gluten-free flour mix
- 1 tbs. psylluim husk powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tbs. sugar
- ½ cup frozen unsalted butter
- ½ cup ice water
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- Fresh berries and other fruit: strawberries, plums etc.
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- ½ cup of honey
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust:
Mix your dry ingredients – gf flour, psyllium, salt, sugar – in a medium bowl and set aside.
Take your stick of butter and grate about ½ cup into a glass bowl.
In a food processor, place the flour mixture and the butter into the bowl. Replace lid.
Begin to pulse in short, 5-second pulses until the butter is just incorporated into the flour.
Continue to pulse the food processor, slowly pouring in a little ice water – just a few drops at a time.
Note: You probably will never use the entire amount of water and you don’t want to. You only want to add enough to where the dough just comes together into a ball.
Once your dough as come together, scrape it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Slowly roll the dough out, flipping the dough and keeping it floured, until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Each hand pie rectangle is about 5 inches tall and 3 inches wide. Measure out and cut your dough.
Place the rectangles on a lined sheet pan and place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the fillings.
For the filling:
Chop your fruit very small, but still a little chunky. The plum I cut into very thin slices.
In small bowls, sprinkle 2 tbs. of the tapioca flour and 2 tbs. of honey over the fruits and stir well. Let this sit for about 5 minutes to thicken.
Pull your pie dough out of the fridge.
On each rectangle you’ll place about 2 tbs. of fruit on one end, leaving enough room for edges to crimp.
Whisk your egg in a small bowl and brush the edges of the dough with the mixture.
Fold the longer end over the fruit filling and press a fork around the edges for a cute design. This also presses the dough together and creates a seal. Repeat this for the other dough until you’ve got a full pan of small little pies.
Use a sharp knife to cut 2-3 very thin slits in the top of the hand pies.
Brush egg was over the tops and edges, sprinkle a little sugar over them and pop these cuties in the oven.
Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until brown. Cool and serve. These freeze well in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
Twinkle VanWinkle has over 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and has appeared on Food Network’s “The Best Of…” Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.