In the palm of my hands

Gluten Free pockets with raw sugar and cardamom roasted Asian pears finished with sweetened yogurt and pomegranate.

Gluten Free pockets with raw sugar and cardamom roasted Asian pears finished with sweetened yogurt and pomegranate.

I have always been fascinated by miniatures. The delicacy involved in creating intricate small things is something I admire, probably because I am such a klutz! I am one of those people, who can happily walking on flat ground and in the next second find myself on the ground, dazed about how I could possibly have tripped on nothing. I am the one who is cheerfully gesticulating in conversation and in a blink, swipe the table top clean of assorted sundry. I am the one who usually has cause for blushing while people simple look in wonder and amusement.

Yet, since this has been a folly of mine since childhood, I have learnt to be nonchalant to the point of self-deprecating, not even missing a beat when something trips, falls or spills. I simply resort to charm; laugh at myself, proceed to be exceedingly helpful and hope the amusement will fudge the details. It does works, a lot! Goes to say a lot about it really being all about confidence.. Napolean and all that..

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As you would guess, that sort of accounts for an absence of many individual menu items here. Family style is just the right serving size for someone with a marked appetite for calamity. Add to that, a distinct distaste of measurements, you can see why I go for whole loaves, cakes, pies, anything. But, the aspiration to be a diva has always been there and the illusion of it being simple is reinforced by so much food porn everywhere I look. And, why not?! Minis are cute, flirtatious, fun, childlike. And, yet, they can also be elegant, saucy, exquisite, rich. The only other theme that can straddle both sides are layer cakes. Nothing like height for charisma!

Anyway, eventually, the time to take action indeed comes. One day, I decided to just try. Hand pies has always had a certain tug in my heart. The always bring to my mind the image of a child's hand in an adult, being lovingly carried through life. It brings vivid imaginations of baking together with your mom or grand mom, making little versions of adult people food. Having never had that experience in any form, I find this image entirely soothing and sweet. So, please do not shatter it with reality of them being just gimmicks or something of the sort. I will stick my dream of them being small people pies!

I have seen scores of them but yet never much attempt at making my own. The impetus this time was offered by the need to make a gluten free crust. You wonder why? It's this way, gluten free doesn't really lend itself to largess in any sense of the term. I cannot ever imagine rolling out a giant pizza dough or skinny phyllo sheet ever. Because, it creaks, groans a fair bit when you try to coax it to, eventually cracking up. You can see, it makes for a perfect foray into bite-size then.

If you are in any way used to GF flours, or read my previous posts on the topic, you'll know the importance of a gum like substance. I favor psyllium as the binding agent as it is natural plant product rather than a cultured one like xantham gum. But psyllium alone does make these pies possible, especially for the enclosing top layer. Try gently wrapping the dough over the filling and it will insist on grinning through the cracks mischievously. It can all be rather frustrating, if not for the other natural connector - egg white. These pies are made possible by the Egg White! Really, that's it! 

I gave them generous brushes of whisked egg white, filling the pouting cracks with the syrupy whites firmly letting them know who is boss. Voila! What do you think happened. All my gaucherie receded and out came the swan within as perfectly crackled pies came out of the oven and landed on the rack. 

These pies are more biscuit like than flaky but I find that crunch a very alluring balance to the softness of poached fruit inside. My filling was a resilient, raw cane sugar and cardamom roasted small asian pears. But, you can just as easily use rhubarb or berries or other smaller fruits in season.


GLUTEN FREE HAND PIES WITH CARDAMOM ROASTED PEARS

For the roasted pears:

4 small Asian pears, halved and cored {this recipe only uses 2 pears. Use the remaining pears for cake or just as is served with cream}

1 T raw cane sugar

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 T water

For the gluten free pie dough:

1 cup gluten free flour

1 T psyllium husk

1/2 tsp baking soda

1-2 T sugar

1 tsp salt

6 T butter or lard, room temperature

few tablespoons cold water

1 egg + 1 egg, separated

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rub together the sugar and cardamom until perfumed. Mix in the water and set aside.

Place the pears cut side down in a baking dish just large enough to hold them tightly packed.

Pour the sugar mixture over the pears. Wrap in foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes until tender but not mush. Cool until able to handle.

Meanwhile, prepare the dough by sifting together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub in the fat (butter or lard) until you get a meal texture,

Make a well in the center and crack a whole egg into it. Add 4 T of water to it and whisk in the mixture. Using a fork, incorporate the flour from the sides until the liquid is loosely incorporated.

Using quick strokes of the hand, bring together the dough into a ball. If it is a bit stiff add more water. Err on the side of wet as the psyllium soaks up water thirstily.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two and roll each piece out between parchment sheets that have been generous floured. 

Whip the egg white lightly to a frothy fluid.

Cut 3 inch discs out of one. Place a roasted pear in the center leaving atleast a half inch perimeter of dough left.

From the other dough sheet, cut 4 inch circles. Gently nudge the larger circles over the pears. If it tears too much, brush with egg whites and gently nudge again.

When done, go over generously with egg whites. Repeat for the remaining 3 hand pies.

Rest for 5 minutes, then brush the tops with egg yolk and pop into the oven for 20 minutes until golden and lightly cracked on top.

Serve dusted with sugar. I served with sweetened yogurt and pomegranate as accompaniments.