There’s something about Concord grapes that makes my toes curl. Until a few years ago, my only experience with them was in the form of Welch’s Grape Jelly, and I’ll admit that whenever I pop a Concord grape into my mouth, memories of Welch’s spread on buttered, crustless bread (thank you, Maw-Maw) come flooding back. I tried my hand at a grape focaccia a couple of times with decent results, but I wanted to focus on something more obviously dessert-y this time and ended up with hand pies and a LOT of leftover jam.
I won’t lie — making grape jam from scratch is a big pain in the ass because you have to pop the grapes from their skins, cook the pulp, then remove the seeds, but it’s worth the trouble (and the purple-stained fingers if you forget to wear gloves). Sweet, tangy and dusky all at once, it bears little resemblance to industrialized jelly and is just the thing to set off a flaky, buttery crust. Get the jam recipe at Apt. 2B Baking Co.
I read about the promise of a flaky, buttery and gluten-free pie crust at the new-to-me blog The Bojon Gourmet and couldn’t wait to get started. It uses a manageable blend of gluten-free flours, lots of butter, and the fraisage method of bringing the dough together to produce an extra-flaky crust. It’s pretty easy, too — you simply scrape your hand across a small portion of the dough on the board, then use a bench scraper to lift it into a bowl. Sure, your hands get a little messy, but when you’re making pie crust, you’re already committed to dough-covered hands, so what’s a slightly bigger mess? I didn’t try the crust without the fraisage method, so I can’t say how the two compare, but this was terrifically flaky, so there’s that. Read all about it at The Bojon Gourmet.
After it chilled in the refrigerator for a while, I rolled out the dough on a well-floured board with my well-floured hands and rolling pin and got to work crafting hand pies! I made mine about 3 1/2″ x 5″ and found them a little large to eat in one sitting. I’ll go smaller next time so I won’t have to wait for Gil to get home to share. A dollop of jam, some egg wash along the edges to seal the top and bottom layers, a quick crimp with a fork, and the pies were nearly ready to bake.
With the extra bits of dough, I made one goofy-looking sample pie (in the upper-right corner of the photo above) and some little dough balls which became a decorative cluster of grapes on the top of each pie (if you squint and use your imagination). That step wasn’t necessary at all, but if you’re making hand pies with multiple fillings, this would be a great way to differentiate the pies. After they were all sealed and decorated, I gave them one more quick brush with the egg wash before baking at 400°F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want any extra sweetness, but if you do, you can sprinkle the tops of the pies with sugar before baking.
Fresh from the oven.
And that first bite…mmmm… They were tender, flaky and ever so slightly crunchy on the edges, with a hit of grape jelly that reminded me of a grown-up version of Pop Tarts in the very best way. It’s a bit of an undertaking, but we happily ate these for several days before vowing to lay off desserts for a while. It’s the natural order of things — indulge, repent, repeat.
I also wanted to share my new portfolio/shop site at Amy Roth Photo with you! Until now, I’ve had a couple of portfolios in different places plus a shop on Etsy, but it all got to be too fractured for my taste, so I drank the Squarespace Kool-Aid this week and set up a new site where all of the disparate elements are integrated! I couldn’t be happier with the Squarespace experience, and managed to set this up in only one day, which, if you’ve ever set up a new website, you’ll recognize as practically unheard-of.
So now the PORTFOLIO and SHOP links at the top of Minimally Invasive point to Amy Roth Photo. Check it out and let me know what you think! I still have a little tweaking to do here and there, but it’s already miles better than what I had previously.
The shop has listings of food, nature, travel and pet photo prints, which I can now offer at different sizes. There’s also a growing digital download section, currently with nature-inspired background textures to use in your digital designs, but soon will have patterns to use in crafting, design or for printing, and holiday card designs that you can print yourself.
To celebrate the launch, I’m offering 20% off all shop orders over $20 (in other words, a sale on prints) through Sunday evening! Just use the code 20OFF at checkout.