Strawberry Hand Pies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Low Carb Strawberry Hand PiesFresh strawberries in a tender almond flour pastry crust.  Low carb, gluten-free hand pies!

Excuse me if I toot my own horn a little bit here, because I am pretty excited about this one.  After much experimenting, I have managed to create a low carb, gluten-free pastry crust that holds together and yet still manages to be tender and flaky.  With no eggs.  Not one single egg, not even half an egg.  Not even a few drops of egg white.  While I have nothing against eggs in general, this is actually a huge breakthrough for me.  If you have ever worked with low carb, gluten-free ingredients, I think you will agree that this is no mean feat.  Because when it comes to pastry crust, the lack of gluten presents an enormous challenge.  Gluten may not be good for us, but it has some amazing properties that are really hard to simulate in its absence.  It provides the glue that holds conventional pastry crust together while still allowing it to be tender.  My beloved almond flour isn’t nearly so cooperative in that regard.  It doesn’t have all these magical little protein strands that bind to each other while the butter melts, so most almond flour pastry recipes call for eggs to hold the crust together.  Until now…

Low Carb Strawberry Hand Pies

Again, I have nothing against eggs in general.  In fact, I love them and eat them almost daily in some form or another.  But eggs don’t belong in a true pastry crust.  Sorry, eggs, you are delicious, but you have a tendency to make the crust very heavy and decidedly un-flaky.  Eggs or egg whites may help hold the crust together, but it will be much more leaden in texture.  It definitely won’t have that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

In the absence of gluten and eggs, I knew I needed some help getting the almond flour to hold together.  I would love to have an all almond flour crust, but I tried that a few times and the results weren’t pretty.  So I went with a little teeny weeny bit of starch, in the form of some gluten-free all purpose flour.  I used as little as I could get away with, so as not to raise the carb count too much.

Low Carb Strawberry Hand Pies

I was very pleased with the results.  The dough is still quite fragile and has to be handled with care.  But one great thing about the absence of gluten is that the dough patches back together really easily and can be re-rolled without the loss of too much tenderness.  It worked so well for these hand pies, because the circles of pastry were small and easy to work with.  I also made a few of them into tarts and was impressed with how well the dough baked up, without getting too soggy on the bottom.  And I have also tried it out as one large pre-baked crust (for a coconut cream pie, and I will post that recipe in a few days).  Because it’s so fragile, it’s tricky getting it into the pie pan without a lot of cracks and tears, but again, it patches back together so nicely.

I have a few ideas of how to strengthen it without losing the tenderness, so I think there may still be some tweaking to be done.  And I haven’t yet tried it as a top crust for a large pie, so I can’t quite say how it will perform there.  But for now, I am extremely pleased to have a delicious low carb almond flour pastry crust.  I have so many recipe ideas for this crust, I hardly know where to begin!

Low Carb Strawberry Hand Pies

This recipe is also being featured in a wonderful Fresh & Festive Holiday eZine. I am so honored to be asked to contribute 4 gluten-free, low sugar and healthy recipes to this gorgeousfree download. The focus is on using fresh produce in your holiday cooking, such as tomatoes, berries, apples and dates.  The  Please check it out here: Fresh & Festive
Fresh & Festive Holiday eZine

Strawberry Hand Pies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 9 small hand pies

Serving Size: 1 hand pie

Strawberry Hand Pies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Fresh strawberries in a tender almond flour crust. Low carb, gluten-free strawberry hand pies.

Ingredients

    Filling:
  • 1 cup strawberries, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup almond flour (Honeyville)
  • 1/4 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • 1 tsp guar or xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, well-chilled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 - 4 tbsp ice water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. For the filling, combine chopped berries and erythritol in a small bowl and let sit.
  3. For the crust, combine almond flour, all purpose, erythritol, guar gum and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  4. Sprinkle butter over and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. With processor running on low, add ice water 1 tbsp at a time until dough begins to clump together.
  6. Cover work surface with a large sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with almond flour. Turn out dough and form into a disk.
  7. Sprinkle with additional almond flour and top with another piece of parchment, then carefully roll out in all directions to form a 10 inch circle.
  8. Remove top parchment and use a large circular cookie cutter, about 2 3/4 inches in diameter, to cut out as many circles as possible. Gently lift circles with a knife or offset spatula and transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  9. Re-roll scraps to get as many pastry circles as possible. You should be able to get 9 or 10.
  10. Avoiding any juices collected at the bottom, spoon a small amount of berries onto one half of each circle, leaving 1/2 inch edge for sealing.
  11. Gently fold the other half of the pastry over and seal edges. Use a fork to crimp.
  12. Use a sharp knife to cut small slices into the top of each hand pie to release steam.
  13. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until pastry is light golden brown. Let cool completely on pan before serving.

Notes

Serves 9. Each serving has 6.7 g of carbs and 2 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4.7 g.

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Comments

  1. One word…quiche. Thanks for this recipe!

  2. thanks for this recipe Carol! I read somewhere that you could also chill the flours that you are using along with the chilled butter. Sounds logical to me. I think I’ll give this a try once I find the Bob’s Red Mill product that you used. It shouldn’t be too hard to find.
    ☺ Sandi

  3. I was looking for something to make to bring over for dinner with my friend who has gluten intolerance. This will work so well since she loves strawberries :)
    Great recipe!

  4. I’m picking free raspberries Friday morning. Do you think I could make this with raspberries instead of strawberries?

  5. You are a dough scientist and have made an amazing discovery :) I love hand pies and could eat way more than I should ;)

  6. Mercy W. says:

    Thank you for all these recipes! Please consider making a biscuit recipe, my life is not the same without them lol

    • Mercy W. says:

      also, does the gluten free baking mix affect your blood sugar?

      • Sharon Bee says:

        I would say, Yes, Mercy. Bob’s GF flour contains, among other things, potato starch and tapioca flour. Per Dr. William Davis of “Wheat Belly” fame, products labeled “gluten-free” shouldn’t be consumed by anyone because of their effect on blood sugar.

        Carolyn’s recipe sounds delicious, but I’ll have to hold off trying it until I can decide how to sub for the GF flour. (I do have a few ideas.)

        • Carolyn says:

          I will disagree, Sharon, at least in the degree that it is only 1/4 cup of the flour and adds only 2 g of carbs per serving. The total number of carbs I stated in the recipe is correct. Almond flour and coconut flour are labeled as gluten-free as well, do you avoid them? The statement you gave from Dr. Davis in your comment is erroneous if the total carbs don’t amount to much. I actually test my blood sugar and these pies did not raise it (assuming you stick to one serving…which is the case for almost anything low carb).
          If you choose to not eat grains and such, that’s up to you. Dr. Davis may recommend it and I certainly don’t eat a lot of them myself, but they are useful in minimal amounts in baking. But to say this recipe would raise blood sugar? Not true. Thanks for your feedback!

          • Sharon Bee says:

            Thanks for your quick reply, Carolyn.

            Luckily, I don’t have to check my blood sugar (although I probably should; could possibly be insulin resistant).

            I do use almond flour and coconut flour as replacements for wheat and “carb-y” flours, although their use is not foolproof. I also use ground flax seed! It seems that everything that’s GF gets labeled (which is a good thing!), but I do avoid multiple-ingredient products so labeled, because of those flours. (Generally, I like to use single ingredients, and not premixed).

            GF flour mixes may be OK in small amounts (such as your recipe), as long as serving recommendations are observed, but I’m still concerned about the effects over time.

            As for the egg-free issue, have you tried chia or flax eggs?

            Thanks for your recipes *and* your blog. 8^D

          • Carolyn says:

            I have used chia and flax as binders and they’re great…but not what I want my flaky pastry! As for myself, I am not concerned about small amounts of legumes or grains (except wheat, because it has changed so much in the GMO era) over time, because these things became cultivated in the first place because humans were eating them in their wild state. I just think that they were never meant to be the staple in our diets that they’ve become. As long as they don’t raise my blood sugar when I keep them to the minimum, I am not worried about occasionally consuming them. For most of my recipes, I try to stick with almond and coconut, but pastry is really tricky! :)

  7. Strawberry hand pies?! OH MY! Where can I get 3? ;-)

  8. These look awesome! I’m going to make them this weekend to go with our raw milk ice cream. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Oh Carolyn, I have a ladies night this weekend, and these look perfect. I’m excited.

  10. I just did some crawfish pies similarly not long ago. We call ‘em fried pies here in Texas, even if they are baked. :) These look delicious, Carolyn. I’ll be trying them one of these days.

    • Felecia says:

      Yay, it’s not just me! When I saw the pic, I said ‘FRIED PIES!’ like my grandma use to make. RIH. Wow I so love this site!!

  11. Love these hand pies… So summery and delish!

  12. You really are the queen of low carb and gluten free baking Carolyn! I’m constantly astounded by what you can accomplish! I would not have thought this possible, but they look amazing! Chicken pot pie – here I come!!!

  13. Excellent job, Carolyn! Mastering pastry for low carb or paleo lifestyles is definitely a challenge. I was able to do it, but I use my own blend of almond flour and straight starch and protein flours not in a ready made blend. Glad just 1/4 cup of Bob’s GF AP flour worked for you! You did a fab job keeping the carb count down per serving! BRAVO!

  14. Wondering do you have a cookie dough that looks like this ,but made from cream cheese and powder sugar? the cookie looks just this only strawberry jam in the center. Thank you

    • Carolyn says:

      This doesn’t have strawberry jam, it has strawberries, fresh. I am sure you could put some cream cheese and powdered sugar in the center as well.

  15. Sarah G says:

    Oh my, oh my…I must make. About how big is one pie?

  16. I wonder how many of these beauties I could safely eat for breakfast….

  17. Mary in Louisiana says:

    Carolyn,

    What has been your experience with psyllium powder? Such as this recipe
    http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/2013/06/amazing-bread.html

    Mary

  18. Oh wow I must try this crust. It really looks like the real deal. Pinning to make in the future :-)

  19. These look fantastic Carolyn! I love hand pies, and strawberry is by far the best!! YUMMY!

  20. Esther R. says:

    Carolyn Are these really fragile? I have some in the oven. Here is a tip you may have already given it. Roll your dough between 2 peices of plastic wrap then take off the top , then flip the plastic wrap and dough into pie shell peel off plastic wrap and bake. I do this when I make the pockets pies also.

  21. Carolyn,
    Are these too fragile to be made into toaster pastries?
    They look delish! Thanks!

    • Carolyn says:

      Not sure. Do you mean you’d actually want to cook them in a stand up toaster? Then yes. But if you mean a toaster oven, they might do alright, but the strawberry juice would leak out a lot. Probably pretty messy.

  22. michelle says:

    I made these last night and was pretty pleased with the results. My husband ate one and said “You didn’t tell me you were making pop tarts! These are GOOD! Can I have a few more?” I guess I used a smaller circle cookie cutter because I got 15 mini pies out of the recipe. This one is definitely a keeper!!
    Thanks for all your hard work to perfect this recipe! :)

    • Oh yay! Sometimes I don’t know if my recipes will work for other people, and especially something as tricky as pastry crust. I know how to work with my ingredients but it’s hard to relay all of the info, no matter how carefully I write up the recipe. So glad they turned out!

    • I finally found someone who has made these. These are incredibly “fragile”. I am an experienced cook and I had huge issues with making these.
      Please do not use 2-3/4 inch circles the math is off, if you want to leave a 1/2 inch around to turn the finicky dough, you need at least 3-1/4 inch circles.
      Also the filling should be really really small chopped up pieces of strawberry, because any pressure on the dough and it will puncture a hole.
      Also please strain the fruit from the juices by positioning a strainer over a cup or bowl to get rid of the juices.
      I have made pies for years with spinach fillings and leftover spaghetti meat sauce so I am used to playing with this size of dough…..and even they were finicky with high carb dough.
      I made about 4 then switched to just making tartlets with the rest as the method was more friendly and less stressful whew!!!
      The taste was very good, but too much dough for me in proportion to filling.
      The texture of “pastry” was spot on!
      Just wanted to provide some help to inexperienced cooks!

      • Like Joanne, I made 4 and gave up. But instead of folding the diminutive circle in half, I topped it with another circle. The dough is extremely difficult to work with so I kept putting it on the freezer for a few minutes and work a couple of rounds, back in the freezer, etc. The rest of the dough I made a 5 inch “pie” using half the dough for the bottom and the rest for the top. The taste and texture was perfect.
        Note: my filling was Granny Smith chopped tiny, with Swerve, cinnamon and toasted pecans also chopped fine.

  23. Wow. A hand pie for less than 5g of carb… that’s something to get excited about :)

  24. Carolyn,
    I was thinking that your crust recipe might work for toaster pastries. But one would have to use a thin layer of jam instead of fresh fruit…..a winter project possibly!
    Anyway, thanks so much for this and all of your great recipes!

  25. protein strands… were you considering adding whey protein?

    • Carolyn says:

      No, whey protein tends to make things cakey. But gluten is a protein so it creates strands that help bind pastry crust and make it less fragile.

      • Good to know- then I won’t tweak the dough when I make them :) (I’m one of those people who has a hard time ever following a recipe as written…)

        I’m planning on making them today, and serving them tomorrow? Are these as good the second day? (Assuming I don’t eat them all myself and have to make another batch for my guests tomorrow…)

        • Carolyn says:

          I have a hard time following recipes exactly too…even my own! These are good the second day but I wouldn’t keep them around any longer than that.

  26. Mom used to make these. They were made with fresh pears, fried and dipped in sugar They were called pear tarts. An old Southern treat. Thanks for this.

  27. How many calories are in each small pie? Looks fabulous, but I always count my calories as well.

  28. Love ‘em!

  29. This recipe makes a wonderful crust with a nice texture–the only problem is how brown it gets in the oven! Any tips for avoiding this? I would love to try a double crust pie but I’m afraid the toasted flavor will be too overwhelming. Thanks!

    • Mine didn’t get that brown at all. Maybe try shortening your baking time by 3 or 4 minutes (your oven may run hot) and/or tenting with foil for the last little bit of baking.

  30. Could coconut flour be substituted for the GF flour?

  31. Wow! So, I showed my almost 4 yr old my Pinterest board of low carb treats and asked her what she wanted to help me make today. She picked these since she saw strawberries in the puc and we had gone strawberry picking this weekend. I’ve made a handful of GF, LC treats since starting my new way of eating a month or so ago but yowzers, this was my first pastry crust type dessert. I do not have a food processor so I attempted to use my Vitamix and then my Kitchenaid mixer when I didn’t think the dough was quite right. It was fragile for sure. I lost a bit of dough between machines so I only made 6. They look horrible, lol! I am going to post them on my blog in a minute in case you want to see. But, yum! The flavor is good and the crust is very nice! Thank you!

    • Yikes! Oh well, as long as they taste good. Next time, just take two knifes or a pastry cutter and cut the butter up in the dough as finely as you can.

  32. I tried this crust recipe, I forgot to add the xanthan but it held together nicely and was so light and flakey. I used it for a quiche, so I baked it for ten minutes before pouring my egg mixture in to bake for another 25 minutes. It is excellent. I look forward to making these pies next.

  33. I don’t have GF flour and really don’t want to have to buy any. Could I use regular all-purpose flour and maybe leave out the xanthan gum? How much do you think it would change the amount of carbs in each serving?

    • Carolyn says:

      A 1/4 cup of flour has about 28 g of carbs. Divide that by 7 or 8 servings. So at least 3 more grams per serving, I would say.

  34. Do you think if I didn’t put the sweetener in the crust I could use it for samosas?

    • Possibly! But do you intend to fry them like samosas? Not sure that they would hold together.

      • No, I liked the idea of baking them. If I did want to try to fry them, I would probably try freezing one first to see if it would hold up. I noticed your pastry on the apple caramelized onion tartlets has less sweetener, do you think that one would be better to try making samosas?

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