I have not needed to bake anything gluten free before, but I decided to try it before my last book club meeting. We were all taking something to nibble on while we were discussing our book, and I always like to take the chance to bake something. One of our members is trying to maintain a gluten free diet. Her youngest daughter is severely allergic to gluten and she is trying to stay away from gluten also. I had a few lackluster orchard apples that needed cooking, so I decided to make gluten free apple turnovers. I figured pie crust might be a good experiment for my first foray into gluten free baking, since it wouldn’t need to rise.
I looked online to find a gluten free pie crust recipe. I found a few that called for xanthan gum, which is supposed to be a wonder ingredient in gluten free baking. It is a thickening and binding agent, and helps make up for the structure that gluten normally provides. It is a pricy ingredient, and since I wasn’t sure I would do much gluten free baking, I didn’t really want to invest in any. I found a few other recipes that called for an egg, and no xanthan gum. I figured the egg could provide the binding action of xanthan gum.
I used King Arthur Flour’s gluten free flour mix and went to town. The recipe that I was working from called for a huge amount of butter. While I am used to pie crust that uses a lot of butter, this seemed excessive. I was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough flour to hold all that butter and I would end up with a big mess. I ended up cutting the butter in half, which still made a beautifully buttery crust. The turnovers sizzled in the oven and basically fried in their own butter on the baking sheet.
The turnovers got rave reviews from everyone at the meeting. I completely forgot to take pictures, but trust me; they were beautifully golden brown, with a slight bit of apple filling showing through the slits in the tops. Since there isn’t a photographic record, I won’t mention how lumpy and misshapen they were. I should have chilled my dough a bit before trying to roll it out. It goes to show you that even ugly food can taste wonderful.
Gluten Free Apple Turnovers
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 12 large turnovers
1 ½ pounds apples, approximately
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup or water
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
2 cups gluten free flour (I used King Arthur Flours multi-purpose mix), plus more for rolling out the dough
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)
½ cup butter (1 stick), diced and then chilled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar
Prepare the filling first. Peel and dice the apples. Combine the apples, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Add maple syrup or water, and brown sugar to taste. Use less if the apples are sweet. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until apples are soft. They will cook a little bit in the oven, but not much, so make sure they are the texture you like. When the apples are to your liking, add the cornstarch and water mixture to the apples and stir constantly until the liquid bubbles and thickens slightly. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.
Prepare the crust while the filling cools. Combine the gluten free flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add cold butter and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture looks like coarse sand, with a few larger pieces of butter. Add egg and mix briefly. Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together when pressed into a ball. Place ball of dough on a piece of plastic wrap and form into a flat disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease. Set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a surface lightly floured with gluten-free flour. Divide dough in half and set one half aside, loosely covered.
Roll first piece of dough into a rough rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick, adding extra flour if dough starts to stick. Cut dough into 6 rectangles or squares. Place 2-3 tablespoons of apple mixture on one half of each rectangle, leaving an edge of clean dough on three sides. Bring empty half of dough up and over filling and press edges to seal. Use your fingers to apply a little water to the edges if they won’t seal. Patch any holes with dough scraps, using a little water as glue.
Use a lightly floured spatula to move sealed turnovers to baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. If dough gets hard to work with, cover it and return it to the fridge for a few minutes before trying again.
Cut a few slits in the top of each turnover with a sharp knife. Combine egg with water. Brush turnovers with egg mixture and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar.
Bake turnovers for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown on top and a little darker on the bottoms. Let turnovers cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes to firm up before moving to a rack to cool thoroughly. Store in a sealed container for a few days, or freeze to keep longer. Thaw at room temperature.