Everyone at your holiday table will be grabbing seconds of these cranberry hand pies that are secretly whole-grain, gluten-free, and vegan.
Are You Here for the Food? Let’s Talk Cranberry Wine Hand Pies
Firstly, don’t let the length of the recipe for these cranberry hand pies scare you. The pie crust recipe is adapted from m go-to baking book, Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. There are a lot of steps, but the details of her “Fraisage” method have changed my pie-making forever.
Scraping the flour and fat (coconut oil in this case) across a work surface yields a flaky crust that doesn’t fall apart as you’re making it. Gone are my days of IMMENSE frustration with the dry bits that never seemed to incorporate.
Secondly, don’t let the “whole-grain, gluten-free, and vegan” part scare you away. I know the immediate reaction is an automatic “ew, gross.” I know this because I have heard this reaction from friends upon hearing these categories.
These cranberry hand pies will satisfy your butter-loving friends too, which makes them a practical choice for holiday baking. Those with dietary restrictions and those without can both eat the same pie.
The Filling: Cranberry Wine Sauce
I know “they” say the better the wine, the better the recipe, but I’m an advocate for waste not, want not. Every now and then, I won’t get to that last glass of wine in the bottle, but rather than pitch it, I add it to the cooking wine bottle.
Combine that cooking wine with cranberries, pure maple syrup, and Chinese Five Spice, and you have a cranberry sauce that I find myself adding to every dessert like this brown butter ice cream.
Are You Here to Connect? Let’s Talk Expectations & Disappointment
As Christmas day draws nearer and nearer, plans get busier, and the to-do list is a little stressier, I found immense value in a lesson on expectations. I’ve been working my way, slowly and thoughtfully, through Brené Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart, and I might be quoting it in every blog post from now on because it’s that powerful. Bear with me.
I often strike a mudra pose with my hands and say, “Expectations are the root of all suffering.” I may be half-joking with the yoga pose, but I am quite serious with the reminder [to myself]. Expectations and disappointment are inextricably linked. Here’s how Brené Brown defines it in her book:
“Disappointment is unmet expectations. The more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment.”
The more we can examine and share our expectations (the scary part), the more realistic we can be, and hopefully, minimize disappointment. She gives a few examples of examining expectations, and boy howdy, did I feel seen.
Are you planning the holiday to the minute and assuming everyone else is on board? Is your happiness hinging on someone’s reaction to a thoughtful gift you made? Sound familiar? It sounded really familiar to me. Too familiar.
I have often pushed myself to plan perfect gatherings, gifts, etc without sharing my hopes and goals for the moments. I’ve sought approval and validation from people, and the reality is, I can’t control other people’s reactions.
Can I share my needs? Can I still feel good about a gift regardless of a reaction? Can I feel pride without waiting for external validation?
I’ve been taking these questions to heart. I’ve been reminding myself that my love of baking and sharing is not dependent on others’ reactions. I’ve been communicating with my partner what I find to be meaningful in Christmas gifting, so we can be on the same page. I’ve been expressing my hopes for a quiet and reflective New Year’s Eve. I’ve also been opening up the conversation to understand what he wants and needs.
This will be a lifelong process and practice, but these steps feel better already, and that leaves more time and space to simply enjoy the pie. Happy Holidays!
Are You Here for the Dogs?
There’s sweet, cuddly Maple Le and then there is the puppy we call, “Little Monster,” who doesn’t know what to do with herself and just starts biting anything. We are still very much in the puppy phase. For that reason, I skipped a Christmas tree this year, but I like to think this little one we found on a hike was our tree for the year, and even better, we didn’t have to cut it. Had we not been on a long hike, I probably would have started decorating it with leaves.
You Might Also Like: Cranberry Cheesecake
If you’re feeling festive and want even more cranberry dessert options, try this Cranberry Cheesecake with Wine-Poached Pears from my book, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook. Alas, this recipe is not vegan, but there are several vegan recipes in my book.
Cranberry Hand Pies
For the Pie Crust:
- 1 cup (160 g) sweet white rice flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) GF oat flour
- 1/2 cup (60 g) sorghum flour
- 1/2 cup (60 g) cornstarch
- 4 Tablespoons (30 g) tapioca starch/flour
- 5 Tablespoons (30 g) finely ground chia seed
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 16 Tablespoons (210 g) firm/room temp coconut oil
- 16 Tablespoons (240 ml) ice water
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the Filling:
- 3 cups (a 12-ounce packages fresh cranberries
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1-2 Tablespoons oat or almond milk
- organic raw 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, then divide the dough into two equal portions.
- Wrap each portion in plastic wrap or a beeswax wrap, and then flatten it into a disc. Chill the dough until firm, 30-60 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the cranberry wine sauce filling.
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. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
- Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the cranberry wine sauce filling.
Prepare the Filling:
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thick and syrupy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to chill.
- Let the dough stand at cool room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften slightly.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the first portion of chilled dough into a rectangle that is about 1/4" thick. Use an approximately 5-inch round pastry cutter to cut rounds. Gather the scraps, reroll the dough, and repeat until you have used all the dough possible. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
- Alternatively, if you don’t have a pastry cutter, divide the dough into 16 equal portions. 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 cranberry wine sauce 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 or a Silpat, then 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 hand pies with milk, then sprinkle them 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, about 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, any caramelizing juices will cause them to stick). Let cool slightly, then enjoy warm, or at room temperature.
Serve & Enjoy:
- The hand pies are best enjoyed the day of baking when the crust is crisp, but they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature.