The first rhubarb dessert of the season definitely signals the start of spring for a Minnesota girl. Jams, crisps, buckles and bars — so many recipes I’d love to try, so little time. I’ve also vowed to use this vegetable that’s usually referred to as a fruit in more savory dishes this year, but not before I made these gluten-free Raspberry Rhubarb Hand pies.
Pie isn’t usually my first choice when I’m making something sweet, mostly because I want something I can indulge in without a long wait. But today was different. I was in one of those, “I’ve got plenty of time to dilly dally with a fun project” moods.
And to tell you the truth, once the pastry is chilled and rolled out, it really doesn’t take that long for these hot pockets to meet your mouth.
I added just a smidge of polenta (cornmeal) to a pretty standard pie crust recipe because I love the slight crunch and sweetness it gives to baked goods (just as I did with this Upside-Down Strawberry Rhubarb Cake). Plus it adds a beautiful golden hue once finished, and with a glossing from a farm-fresh egg, these little hand pies shine and glisten.
I was so so happy with how buttery, flaky and delicate the gluten-free crust turned out to be. I’ve learned the key is to not overwork the dough. You want to see lumps of butter when you roll it out, really!
The filling is basically a roasted jam of glorious fruit – diced young rhubarb picked from our tiny backyard and a few raspberries for color. You’ll find that the amount of sugar needed varies depending on how tart your rhubarb is. A short blast from the oven helps soften the fruit and concentrate the natural sugars, so I found I only needed about 1/4 cup of added sweetener for this batch.
I also realized that this is a perfect dessert for taking to parties because no forks or knives are needed, there’s no glass pie plate to drop as you’re walking in, and zero clean-up.
I mean, what’s better than a portable packet of spring’s natural beauty queen?
Gluten-Free Raspberry Rhubarb Hand Pies
makes 8 hand pies
adapted from the lovely London Bakes
130 grams Cup4Cup gluten-free flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour mix)
20 grams polenta (cornmeal)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water
6 ounces of rhubarb, about 3 large stalks, diced
1/3 cup raspberries (mostly used for the color)
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste, depending on how tart your rhubarb is)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
zest of one lemon
1 egg, beaten (for washing & sealing)
To make the pastry, put the flour, polenta, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times to start breaking up the butter, then process for about 15 seconds, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and there are pea-sized lumps of butter.
Add the water and greek yogurt, pulsing until the mixture just starts to clump together, adding an additional tablespoon of water at a time if needed. As long as it sticks together when you use your hands to squeeze it into a ball, you’re set. You don’t want to overprocess, there should still be flecks of butter showing.
Flatten the dough and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for about an hour until just firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the dough is chilling, make the filling by putting the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and cornstarch in a roasting dish and mixing. Bake for about for about 15 minutes until the rhubarb has softened and shrunk a bit. Remove and mash the raspberries so that the color fully distributes. Taste and stir in a little more sugar if needed. Set aside.
When the dough has chilled, roll it out on a well-floured surface or parchment paper until it’s about 3mm thick. Chill the flattened dough for another half an hour or so.
Remove the dough from the fridge and using pizza cutter, cut out squares about 2 ½ inches wide by 4 inches long. Place a spoonful of the filling on one square, brush the edges with beaten egg and place another square over top, pinching the dough around the jam and sides to seal. Cut a vent in each pie and freeze for about 40 minutes, until firm.
Return oven to 350 degrees. Remove pies from freezer and brush each with the beaten egg, then bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.