Moravian Spice Cookies

Time to bake more cookies!

We all long for things familiar, things remembered from our childhood. Especially when it comes to cookies. In my family the holidays were framed by a huge array of fancy cookies, no chocolate chips or peanut butters for my relatives but we had spritz, springerly, butter horns, almond crescents, Russian tea cakes, candy cane cookies, and sugar cookies rolled, cut into Christmas shapes like trees, bells, stars or reindeer and sprinkled with fancy colored sugars. So going gluten free meant finding ways to re-create the special cookies I loved. My first effort was the Russian tea cakes and the results were utterly delicious. Last year I made spritz cookies and they were a big hit. This year I have the newest cookbook by Annalise Roberts, “The Heirloom Collection” and so far nothing has disappointed. If you like to bake gf it is a must purchase, not just for cookies but tarts and lots of other tasty treats.

Today I bring you her Moravian Spice Cookies. I chose them for many reasons – the memories of spicy cookies being foremost. I am blogging this recipe for a friend who avoids chocolate as well as gluten: makes it hard to find great cookies. I think you will love this cookie for its flavor and crisp texture. I live not far from Bethlehem which is the home base for the Moravian Church.  You can buy these cookies in the Moravian Book Shop but probably not gluten free.  So now those who can’t eat gluten can have them to enjoy this holiday season.  xmas cookies 007xmas cookies 005

You can cut them out in shapes but I found I liked to mostly make diamonds using a sharp knife. I did do some hearts and ornament shapes but it was tough going to get them off the wax paper and onto the baking sheet without distorting their original shape. You can take her advice and chill them further to facilitate the moving process.  I do love them any shape they are!

 

Moravian Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup brown rice blend (recipe below)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter or vegetable shortening (room temp)
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses

Directions: First combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
Beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses in your big mixer bowl until smooth, add flour mixture and blend until well combined. Shape dough into two disks, chill about 30 minutes, lay between two sheets of wax paper, roll into a very thin (1/8 inch thick) sheet. Cut into 2 inch or less shapes, move with spatula onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If they are sticky and hard to lift up return the sheet to the freezer for a few minutes until they are stiff enough to move. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Make sure they are fully baked or they won’t be crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet a minute before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight cookie jar or tin.

Spicy and crisp. Great with a cup of coffee or tea! Annalise says you can reduce the spices for less zing; 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ¾ tsp. ginger and ½ or less of cloves.
Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur GF flour)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour

Shoe Fly Pie…a Pennsylvania Tradition!

This sweet pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. It is quick to go together, needs neither refrigeration, nor a long chilling down before consuming it, pleases most everyone and best of all it can be made in any season; no fruit needed.  It wasn’t too hard to change from my old recipe to a gluten free version.  I recommend it for celiacs who miss that old time flavor of shoe fly pie.  Note: some folk say shoo fly pie but my recipe used the spelling you see in this post.  I believe either is appropriate.

I know folks who shy away from gluten free baking thinking it is too complicated.  Well, this is the year I feature pies and this is the easiest pie around so I dedicate this to a few friends who have been too scared to bake gf.  You can do this one! If you want, buy a ready made uncooked crust but I swear that with a stand mixer this is the easiest and best gf crust around.

This shoe fly pie recipe is a blending of the filling I have used for years, (my sister Margie gave me the recipe a long time ago) and the pie crust and crumb recipes from Annalise Robert’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  Her cookbook is a fabulous resource and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone trying to bake gluten free for a family member.

My shoe fly pie is considered a “wet bottom” pie; not too crumbish.  If you want it drier use ½ cup molasses and ½ cup water.  I love it soft and moist so my version always is a wet bottom shoe fly pie.

Angie’s Shoe Fly Pie

 

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of parchment or wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of parchment or wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes. Make the crumb topping while it chills.

Crumb topping

 

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.  You will only use 1 ½ cups of the crumbs; put it in a jar and store it in the fridge until your next pie; it keeps well for several weeks.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Next, roll out pie crust between the two sheets of parchment or wax paper; try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Then make filling and pour half into the crust, careful not to splash it out.

Filling:

2/3 cup molasses, I used Grandma’s

¾ cup boiling water

½ tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a spoon until blended. It will foam up a bit as the baking soda mixes with the molasses!

Then pour half the crumb topping (1 1/4 to 1½ cup total) evenly over this mixture.  Add the rest of the molasses liquid and sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on top.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes Cool at least ½-1 hour before serving or let cool to room temperature.

Note: I bake pies in my bottom heat pizza oven and it gives me a great browned crust.  If your oven isn’t bottom heat you might want to pre-bake a gf crust 10 minutes before filling.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

** This blog post first appeared in March of 2016

Aside

Shoe Fly Pie to the Rescue!

Sometimes I need a pie and I have no fruit in the house.  What can I make? This is a simple to create pie and very popular in Pennsylvania.  The venerable shoe fly pie…. a Pennsylvania Dutch treat, sweet and crumbly in your mouth.  I took my sister Margie’s recipe that I have used for many years and substituted in my favorite gluten free crust and crumbs.  It worked great and frankly your pie eaters will never know the difference.  Whip some up and your family will be thrilled.  Image

Margie’s Shoe Fly Pie, GF version

Directions 

Make one GF crust; roll out and put in a 9 inch pie pan.  Do not bake.

Crust:

1 c plus 1 tbsp brown rice flour mix (see flour mix recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter; cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it a bit in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you make the crumbs.  You can use the same mixer bowl and beater without washing them up.

 

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour (make sure it is finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Crumb topping

1 c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

Roll out chilled pie crust between the two sheets of wax paper; try to get the thickness even, no fat middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, try to get it centered.  Peel off other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  I do like to use a pie crust bag; can get on Amazon or at King Arthur flour (also on line.)  It works far better than wax paper and I get a lovely even thickness of crust.

Put 1/3 of your crumbs (more or less) in the bottom of the crust.  Pour over the hot filling.  Top with the rest of the crumbs.  Don’t press them into the filling. You don’t need to use all the crumbs; up to you.  I do though!

Filling:

1/2 cup molasses

¾ cup boiling water

Scant ¼ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda    Image

Put all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. It will foam up when you add the baking soda.  Don’t freak out! If you like a dry bottom pie you can leave out ¼ cup of the water.  Up to you…

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the crumbs are light brown. Let cool an hour or two before cutting.  I like it with a big glass of milk.

Don’t forget the cinnamon, it makes the filling pop.  Image If the pie sinks a touch while cooling, no big deal, it will still taste fantastic.

This is an easy, tasty, gf, made from scratch pie that you can quickly make with the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.  No need to shop for fruit or other fancy filling ingredients.  You get the accolades for serving this classic without all the work of most fruit pies. Now go make a pie!