I will never forget going to my mother-in-law’s house for
the holidays and stuffing myself to the limits and then she would say “Time for
dessert!” And not only would she
bring out one pie, but at least four!
Where exactly those pies were going to fit on top of all the food I just
piled into my belly, I wasn’t sure, but you can count on that I always tried my
best to fit them in! Her typical
assortment of pies included a chocolate chess pie, a Kentucky derby pie, a
coconut pie and of course the family favorite, pumpkin pie. It seems it is tradition in most
households to have pies for Thanksgiving with the most popular pie being
The challenge, as most of us know, with gluten-free pies is very
rarely the filling, but always the crust.
Over the years I have experimented with many, many gluten-free crusts,
trying to find that perfect flaky pie crust that is indiscernible from a
traditional wheat based crust. The
answer is you can come very, very close - so close that only a very picky
baker could tell that the pie was gluten-free. The difficulty is that it is the
“gluten” that gives pie crusts that flaky, but not too flaky, texture -
like pastry. So if you take the
gluten out - you then are challenged with how to mimic that same desired
The good news is you can do it - and you can bake a
pie that everyone will enjoy. This
will not be a pie that you have to say “Oh - that’s my pie, it’s
gluten-free. If you want the good,
”normal” pies they are over there.”
But rather this will be a pie that you can feel proud to serve and will
be beautiful in presentation. Below
you will find several recipes for our best success pie crusts along with our
favorite recipe for pumpkin pie.
My most recent favorite find is Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. This flour mix really is great for just
using as a direct substitution for all purpose wheat flour. We’ve played with this flour for pie crusts
and give credit to Jules for developing this very nice, flaky pie crust recipe:
- 1 cup Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 5 Tbs. shortening, butter or non-dairy alternative
- (I like to use a little of both e.g. Earth Balance®
- Buttery Sticks & Shortening)
- 2 - 3 tablespoons cold water
- milk (dairy or non-dairy)
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry
ingredients. Cut in the shortening using two knives or a pastry cutter until it resembles a fine meal. Add
the water gradually to make the consistency you need to form a ball - err on the side of it
being wetter rather than crumbly. Form a ball with the dough and wrap in plastic and set aside on
the counter for 30 minutes while you make your filling.
After allowing the dough to rest, roll the pastry
out onto a surface dusted with Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour. A flexible pastry sheet
(e.g. Silpat) for that purpose works well. Roll to a diameter at least 1 inch larger than the
diameter of your pie pan. Gently lift an edge of the rolled out crust over your rolling pin and use
the pin to lift the crust so that it is supported by the rolling pin as you lift it onto your pie
plate. Pat into shape and fold approximately 1/2 inch of excess pie crust over all around the edge
to form the crust, then using your fingers, press a fluted design in the crust to finish.
Fill with desired filling and cover crust edges
with foil or pie saver to shield crust. Remove with 10 minutes left of baking and brush the crust with
your milk of choice help to brown the crust. Generally, preheat oven to 375°F and bake for 35 to
40 minutes, or follow directions for your specific pie recipe.
JulesGlutenFree.com Copyright 2009 Jules E. Dowler Shepard
I have also had great success with Gluten Free Pantry’s Perfect Pie Crust Mix - and their Pie Crust Mix. I actually have had more success with
the flour mix that comes in the Country French Bread mix (if using this mix do
not use the enclosed yeast packet but rather just save it for future use). The recipe is as follows:
Basic Pie Crust
- 1-1/4 cup gf flour*
- 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
Place the gf
flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the
butter and shortening into the flower and salt mixture until the mixture
resembles coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and mix just until
incorporated. Continue to add more ice water as needed, a tablespoon at a time,
until you have a smooth dough. Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly with
plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly gf floured
surface. (We use an extra large Silpat - a sort of "rubber" non-stick
mat - which really helps prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom
surface.) Lightly flour the surface of the dough with gf flour. Roll the pastry
to a large round, about 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a deep 9-inch pie
dish, trim to within 1/2 inch of the pan, and crimp decoratively. You may find
that the outer edges will break off before you can fold them under and crimp -
just use excess dough and press onto the outer edge to form and even edge then
crimp. Prick with a fork, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake for 15-30 minutes or until light brown in color. Remove from the oven and
let cool completely on a wire rack.
Fill with your favorite pie filling.
happen to be one of those people that is naturally pie crust
challenged….meaning pie crust has always been
a challenge (my mom happens to be one of these people), and you still want to
bake a delicious holiday pie, might I suggest doing a cookie crust. You won’t get the crimped edges, of
course, but the taste is still very, very good and they are much easier to put
together. It is really up to you as
to which cookie you prefer (and the flavor of your filling). I’ve had great success with many
different brands and homemade cookies but one basic gluten-free cookie crust
that I’ve served to very large groups (not gluten-free) would be Pamela’s
Shortbread Cookies - they work great for pie crusts. The basic steps are as follows:
Step 1: Choose your favorite pre-baked
gluten-free cookie and process it in food processor until it crumbled. (For a
9-inch pie crust you’ll need about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of crumbled cookies.) Be
careful not to over-process. The crumbs should still have a fairly rough
Step 2: Add just enough melted or softened
butter to the food processor to moisten the crumbs and pulse until just
Step 3: Pat the crumb mixture into the pie
dish to coat the sides and bottom of pan.
Step 4: Bake for 15 minutes at 350 °F or
until lightly browned. Let cool.
Step 5: Fill with your favorite filling and
proceed with your recipe as directed.
Now that you have some great options for pie crusts it’s
time to bring on the pie. And what
pie would be better to showcase for Thanksgiving but the traditional, but
- 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 slightly beaten eggs
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- One 6 ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 package Gluten Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix
In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and
spices. Blend in eggs, milk, and evaporated milk.
Pour into pastry shell (have edges crimped high because amount of filling is
generous). Bake at 400 degrees F for
50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
Note this recipe
says to use the Gluten Free Pantry’s Perfect Pie Crust Mix but you can use any
of the pie crusts mentioned above.
- Chef Jessica