If I could eat pastry every day, I would–in savoury tarts, double crust pies, and, of course, galettes. I typically request a birthday pie instead of a birthday cake. It’s kind of my thing. So it’s weird that I only let go of my fear of making pastry a few years ago. I’m telling you now,–gently, nudgingly, in a big sister sort of way–just let go. It’s one of those things that people are afraid of, but it’s truly not that hard. Quantum physics is hard. (Cool, but hard!) Breaking up is hard. Making pastry? A breeze in comparison. I promise. Plus, the homemade results are significantly better than anything you can buy in a store.
As I was working on this recipe, I recalled a conversation that I had with one of my chef’s in culinary school about the technique of fraisage (essentially rubbing your dough across the counter to layer the butter into the flour). At the same time, I also remembered the post Alanna did about a year ago on gluten-free pastry AND fraisage. And after not being totally satisfied with the pastry I’d already tried, I knew that that this might be the ticket. I’ve made pastry crust several different ways before, and this is, by far, my favourite. It’s a technique that produces consistently good results, especially when it comes to baking with gluten-free flours. I’ve modified her (perfectly delicious) recipe to make it vegan (for those of you who can’t/don’t eat dairy). Both are equally tasty, truly. But if I’m choosing, I’m always all about butter in pastry. I also used sorghum flour because I really like the way it tastes in baked goods. Concord grapes, on the other hand, with their tart appeal, offer a welcome change as a pie filling. Their brightness balances the sweet, richness of the the crust. And you just can’t beat the colour this time of year. As the days grow shorter and the sweaters get warmer, that deep dark purple is one of nature’s ways of saying happy fall! Hurry and get some before the season is over.
*If you make this (the pastry, the filling, or the whole delicious thang) send me some sweetness on instagram and tag the photo #bakedtheblog
Serves: 6 (one large or 6 small)
Time: 40 minutes active time, 30 minutes baking time, 1 hour 10 minutes total
Notes: Every single recipe for concord grape pie suggests peeling all of the grapes, cooking the pulp, straining out the seeds, and mixing the pulp back in with the skins for the final product. I found this method to be very time consuming, so I tried keeping the grapes whole with the seeds in tact. I was skeptical, but sfter making this filling 5 times, I can honestly say that the seeds weren’t noticeable in the filling at all, except for one or two very minor bits. This method works just as well and takes a fraction of the time!
Concord Grape Pie Filling
1 lb concord grapes
4 tbsp of your favourite honey
2 tbsp corn starch, preferably organic and non-GMO
1 tbsp cold water
Gluten-free Pastry Ingredients:
¼ cup oat flour
¼ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup corn starch, preferably organic and non-GMO
½ cup sweet rice flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp organic cane sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
Pinch of sea salt
6 tbsp cold butter or coconut oil (it must be kept in the fridge until it is solid)
4-5 tablespoons ice water (literally a glass/bowl of water with ice in it)
One small egg, whisked OR a few tablespoons of rice milk, almond milk, or melted vegan butter for brushing the pastry with
Pluck the grapes from the stems and put them into a colander. Rinse thoroughly and pour the grapes, and their residual water into a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Turn the heat on to medium and add the honey. Stir to coat all of the grapes. Let the grapes come up to a gentle boil so that they break down, release their juices, and the skins start to separate from the pulp. Once you have a soupy mixture and the grapes are soft (about 5-10 minutes), make a corn starch slurry by whisking the corn starch and cold water together in a small bowl. Ensure there aren’t any lumps, then slowly pour the slurry into the grape mixture while continuing to stir. The mixture will thicken into a jammy consistency. Let it cook out for another minute, continuing to stir. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. You can do this a day or two ahead and keep it covered in the fridge.
In a food processor, combine the oat flour, sorghum flour, corn starch, sweet rice flour, cane sugar, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Pulse to combine. You may need to stir it once with a spatula to ensure that the bottom bits around the rim get incorporated.
Thinly slice, or coarsely grate, the butter onto the flour mixture and pulse about 10-15 times to bring the mixture into large crumbles. If you’re doing the vegan option, grate the coconut oil on top of the flour mixture before pulsing. It will blend more easily and not turn into large, solid chunks once the cold water is added.
Drizzle in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to pulse. Check the dough after 3 tablespoons. You’re looking for it to be just moistened enough to hold together when you give it a squeeze. If more water is needed, add it in a half a tablespoon at a time. (I tested this recipe 4 times and used about 4 ½ tablespoons each time, but depending on climate, humidity, etc. your amount may differ.) When you’re done, the dough should have a lot of big crumbs in it.
Handful by handful, put some dough onto the counter and fraisage it by rubbing it firmly against the counter with the underside of your palm. It should go from dryish crumbles to a creamier texture. Scrape this “worked” dough up using a dough scraper or, if you don’t have one, a thin spatula. Repeat this with the remaining dough until you have a pile of fraisaged dough. Place the dough onto plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc, and wrap it. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, if it’s the butter version and about 10-12 minutes, if it’s the vegan coconut oil version. You want the dough to be cold and pretty solid.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for, depending on the temperature in your place, about 5-10 minutes for the butter version and about 15-20 minutes for the vegan coconut oil version. Put the dough disc onto a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with sweet rice flour. Both doughs are much more delicate than traditional wheat-based pastry, but the vegan dough is particularly delicate. You’ll have to be patient. Gently roll out the whichever dough you’re working with. With the butter version, you’ll want to continue to dust your dough and rolling pin to prevent it from sticking. If it breaks up, just patch it back together with your fingers. With the vegan dough, the dough might crack and break apart. It’s ok, just roll it out the best of your ability and patch it up as needed. You will have to spend more time molding the vegan dough because of its delicate structure. When it’s ready, pour a most of the concord grape filling into the centre of the dough leaving a 1½-inch rim around the circumference. (You won’t need it all and leftovers are great in yogurt on topped onto oats.) If you’re using the butter version, you can divide the dough into 6 pieces and make individual galettes. The process is the same. It is much more cumbersome to do this with the vegan dough, but it is possible. Shape, pinch, and fold the dough together to form a border that just slightly overlaps the filling. Remember that neither of these doughs have the malleability of glutinous dough, so it’s difficult to fold or pinch it consistently, but the flavour and texture are outstanding. Brush off any excess flour around the rim with a pastry brush., Then, transfer the parchment paper (with the galette still on it) onto a baking tray and pop it into the freezer for 30 minutes to chill completely. Meanwhile, place an oven rack on the bottom rung of your oven and place a pizza stone on the rack to heat up. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can put the parchment paper and galette, into a cast iron skillet or baking tray. Keep reading, you’ll see what I mean.) Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Just before baking, brush the rim of the crust with the egg wash, milk, or melted vegan butter. Place the pie along with the parchment paper directly onto the pre-heated pizza stone. If you’re using a skillet or baking tray, place the pie and parchment into one of those and place it in the oven on the bottom rack. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely before digging in… if you can wait that long.