You’ll want to eat these lightly sweetened, whole-grain, vegan, gluten-free blueberry hand pies on repeat this summer.
The Food: Gluten-Free Blueberry Hand Pies
A gluten-free, whole-grain, AND vegan (!) pie crust sounds like a disastrous nightmare in both assembly and taste, but thanks to the brilliant cookbook, Alternative Baker, the combination is an enjoyable exploration on both fronts. The crust for these gluten-free blueberry hand pies combines whole-grain sorghum and oat flours. Coconut oil replaces butter for a naturally vegan pie option. The blueberry filling is satisfyingly simple.
The Personal: Happy Anniversary to the “Dondolos”
“I love my friends, and my friends love me. Like all the time, they’re right beside me. We got each other for eternity.”
Poppy, dance tunes don’t typically make me well up with tears, but those lyrics, oh boy, those lyrics get me almost every time now. The song started as an energizing addition to a shared road trip playlist, but that song and a 1960s Italian pop song – Guarda Como Dondolo – became anthems of a deep connection that formed amidst the uncertain conditions of the pandemic.
There had been months of sheltering in place and strictly following quarantine protocol, months of minimal interactions, months of loneliness mixed with quiet reflection, and personal growth. However, after much prodding, I decided to open myself to a new “pod.”
It started with a dinner – Aperol spritzes, lasagna roll-ups, tiramisu, and more cocktails. That dinner led to a trip to Ithaca, to deeper bonding, to waterfall hikes, an excess of ice cream, trampoline bouncing, and flailing. There was deck dancing, and a late night under a remarkably starry sky. That trip led to birthday extravaganzas, matching outfits, a beach trip, an epic seafood boil, and even more dancing. There were so many adventures and so many lifetimes packed into one year (which I captured in one long video tribute)…
There were also emotional ups and downs. Just like a romantic relationship, friendships take work. They take check-ins and honesty, exposing our hurt feelings and taking accountability for hurting others. But really good friendships see us exactly as we are, help us to grow, and encourage us to be our best selves. My friendship with “The Dondolos” has helped me to open, to grow, and to be even more myself.
As the world opens up again, as this return pulls us all in separate ways, maintaining this friendship, like any good relationship, requires continued investment and dedication. So, we gathered to plan, to devote time to each other, and we just so happened to gather on the one-year anniversary of our first dinner together.
While our lives had us pulling in disparate directions that night, we took a moment to convene, to align our calendars, and to toast to each other. While I am all about being “extra,” these smaller moments are healthy reminders that little steps are important too. That being said, I had to add a little something celebratory to the “meeting,” so a basket of beautiful French bubbly and gluten-free blueberry hand pies it was!
To My “Dondolos,”
Thank you! Thank you for your friendship, for being such a bright beam of light when the world was messy, unnerving, and unpredictable. Thank you for the adventures, the laughter, the tears, the immense vulnerabilities, and commitments to connection. Thank you for making me feel like my presence was enough.
To Andrew: Thank you for your patience with our childlike insistence on interrupting you always. Thank you for prompting thoughts with your insightful questions. Thank you for your generosity, for your kindly greetings, for seeing other perspectives, and for prompting conversations. I take extra delight if I happen to make you laugh raucously, and I feel more accomplished when you compliment one of my desserts. To you, my friend, may your brown drink ever floweth! I love you and am so grateful for you.
To Ben: I should name a laugh line on my face “Ben” because no one makes me laugh until I cry quite like you! I cherish our banter like I cherish donuts. You brighten every single room you enter. Yet, for as beaming as you are, you’re equally willing to sit with the hard stuff too. Thank you for all the heartwarming, encouraging texts and for your endless compassion. To you, my friend, may you remember how worthy you are of care from others. I love you and am so grateful for you.
To Chris: Thank you for opening so much of your heart to me, for all the walks and deep talks, for the laughter and the slow eater’s united front. I feel like the world is a better place because of your big heart, your thoughtfulness, and your green thumb. To you, my friend, may you remember that you are loved and deserve to be nurtured as much as your garden. I love you and am so grateful for you.
To Josh: Thank you for the beauty you add to the world and for sharing it with us. Thank you for including us in your cherished traditions, for flying over the edge of the tubing embankment with pure joy, for showcasing bravery and adventure. Thank you for opening your heart and exposing more feels. It means a lot to receive your unguarded sentiments. To you, my friend, may you continue to know we love you for who you are, not any role you might fill. I love you and am so grateful for you.
To Marlene: My sparkling friend, you have shown me what true friendship and giving are. Like everything you do, you have set the bar so high! Thank you for bringing this group together, for putting ideas to calendars, for encouraging me, for nudging me, for all the dairy. Thank you for being spiritually linked to Julep. To you, my friend, may you receive a fraction of what you give. I love you and am so grateful for you.
You Might Also Like: Whole-Grain Heirloom Tomato Tart
If you’re feeling the summer, pie, and picnic vibes, you might also like this Heirloom Tomato Tart from my book, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook. The sweet juiciness of summer tomatoes is instant gratification on long, hot days and a pleasant reminder of living in the season and the moment.
The Fluff/Julep & Maple’s Corner:
Photographing the gluten-free hand pies in the garden was extra special since the skies have been quite stormy since then. Maple Le had her first bath of the season after a very rebellious rolling in the mud. (I swear I’m still spoiling Julep, but the little one has usurped the camera roll it seems.)
Blueberry Hand Pies
For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) sweet white rice flour
- 1/4 cup (40 grams) plus 2 tablespoons GF oat flour
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) sorghum flour
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons (15 grams) tapioca starch/flour
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons (15 grams) finely ground chia seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 Tablespoons (105 g) firm/room temp coconut oil
- 8 Tablespoons (120 mL) ice water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For the Filling:
- 1 ½ cups (190 g) blueberries
- 3 Tablespoons (40 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 small lemon, zested
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1-2 Tablespoons oat or almond milk
- organic granulated cane sugar for sprinkling
For the Crust:
- In a large bowl, combine the rice, oat, and buckwheat flours with the cornstarch, tapioca flour, ground chia seed, and salt.
- Scoop the 8 Tbs (105 g) of firm, room-temperature (or slightly chilled) unrefined, extra-virgin coconut oil over the flour mixture in tablespoon-sized blobs. Chill the whole bowl until the coconut oil is firm, 20 minutes or longer.
- Work in the oil as you would with butter in a typical pie crust recipe:
- Use a pastry blender or your fingers to mix the coconut oil and dry ingredients until the mixture resembles gravel, with lots of chunks the size of large peas.
- Stir together the 8 tablespoons of the ice water with the apple cider vinegar, and then drizzle the liquid over the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a rubber spatula to moisten evenly. Add just enough water for the dough to hold together when you give it a squeeze, and add it directly to the dry floury bits that like to hang out on the bottom of the bowl; you may need up to 8 tablespoons of water, total.
Use the “fraisage method” to form the dough:
- Dump the dough onto the counter. Grab a handful of dough, place it on the counter, put the heel of your hand on the dough, and push it away from you, scraping it across the surface several inches. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough off the counter and place it back in the bowl. Repeat with the remaining dough. It should only take a minute or two to complete this process. Gather all of the dough into a ball, wrap it loosely in plastic wrap or a beeswax wrap, and flatten it into a disc. Chill the dough until firm, 30-60 minutes.
Roll the Dough:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about 1/4" thick. Fold it in thirds like you're folding a letter, then in thirds again, so the dough is a small, layered rectangle. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for another 30 minutes.
Prepare the Filling:
- In a medium bowl, toss together the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg to combine. Set aside.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, letting the dough stand at cool room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften slightly. On a floured work surface, or between two floured pieces of parchment paper, roll each portion of dough into an approximately 5-inch round, about ¼-inch thick, turning the dough and dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Use a pizza wheel or a biscuit cutter to get an even circle.
- Divide the blueberry filling amongst the pie rounds, mounding the fruit toward the center. Fold the dough over itself to make a half-moon shape and press down the edges. If the dough cracks, use your fingers to squish it back together.
- Arrange the pies on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat to 400°F.
- Remove the pies from the refrigerator. Brush the dough with milk, and sprinkle it with sugar. Use a paring knife to cut a few slits in the top of each pie to allow the steam to escape.
- Bake the pies until the dough is golden, and the fruit is bubbling, 22-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and while hot, use a thin, metal spatula to remove the pies from their parchment and onto a cooling rack (otherwise, caramelizing juices will cause them to stick). Let cool slightly, then enjoy warm, or at room temperature.
- The hand pies are best enjoyed the day of baking when the crust is crisp, but they will keep for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.