Monday, November 5, 2012

*Perfect* Gluten Free Pie Crust

I looked at the calender today and it hit me that it's November...How the heck did that happen?

I have to say that I am so in love with this pie crust, that I will use exactly this recipe again this year.  I wanted to share it again now so that we can all start baking ahead of time and enjoy the Holiday with our families.

So, what is your favorite pie?  I am always looking for new tastes and thoughts to try out, while Thanksgiving is about tradition, it is also about FOOD!  I love to add new foods to my traditions.

Happy Baking :-)

I like to start planning for Thanksgiving early.  If I don't, Thanksgiving week can be exhausting, and not at all fun!  If I am going to work full time, take care of my kids and my house and then add in making pies and stuffing and rolls and anything else I want to eat at Thanksgiving, well, it's going to be too much.

One of the struggles with the gluten free diet at a large family gathering, is that we have to make most (if not all) of the food we plan on eating, even when we are not hosting. I have learned that if I care about eating it, I better make it!

One of the great things to make ahead is your pies.  In fact I make my Christmas pies at the same time, one mess, one afternoon of work, 2 great holidays!  The crust is actually better if you freeze it.  You can make the dough and roll it out and freeze it, or you can do like I do, and make the whole pies and freeze them.  Then you just pull the frozen pie out and bake it the night before or even thanksgiving morning.  Or with the cream pies, I just put them in the fridge to thaw just before we eat dinner, I love them still a little frozen.

I went to my recipe cupboard (yes I really do have a whole cupboard full of cookbooks and recipes) and lo and behold, I could not find my pie crust recipe that I have been using for the last 3 years, URG!  I decided to go ahead and try converting a couple of recipes and seeing what I got, and we liked both well enough I'm going to post both.

One of the things I have learned with any baking or cooking, technique is at least half of the battle.  When making pie crust, the technique is very important.  I have found a balance between getting it done quickly and done right that works great for me. 

(printable recipe 1)
The first recipe I converted from another blog, Smitten Kitchen
Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
2 ½  cups  flour
1 tablespoon  sugar
1 teaspoon  table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
1 Tablespoon psyllium husk
½ - ¾ cup ice water

The second recipe is one called Perfect Pie Crust that my mother has used for years, I think she got the original from a Better Homes and Gardens cook book before I was born!
I found it as well on the Pioneer Woman blog, this is the same recipe my mom uses. 

The technique for the two recipes is identical, I will discuss our thoughts on them at the end!
  • 1-1/2 cup Butter
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ½ cup ice Water
  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1T psyllium husk

Blend Ice and water together to make a thin slush.  Stir psyllium husk into ½ cup of ice water and set aside.

Flour blend: 3 cups brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch, ½ cup potato starch, 1 T Corn flour, 1 ½  T xanthan gum

Measure 2 ½ cup of flour blend, sugar and salt into the bowl of a large food processor.  If you don't have a food processor, this step can be done in a mixing bowl with a pastry blender or with your fingers.  Mix together dry ingredients.

Cut Butter into cubes and add to flour mixture.  Turn the food processor on in short bursts until the butter is the size of peas. What gives your pie crust the flaky texture is the small chunks of butter that will be rolled into flat layers when we roll out the crust.  While you want to make sure the butter is well cut up, you want to also ensure that there are small balls of butter in your crust. 

Remove the mixture from the food processor bowl and put in a mixing bowl.  Add the ½ cup water (if you are using the second recipe you will also add the egg and the vinegar) and gently stir with your hand until it is combined.  The point here is not to mix the butter into the dough any further.  If you are using the first recipe, you may need to add up to 1/4 cup more ice water.

 The dough should form into a ball.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Can you see the small beads of butter in this dough picture?

Remove only the amount of dough you will be working with from the fridge.  One trick I often use when rolling out pie crust is to roll it out between 2 sheets of wax paper.  When making a sweet pie, I like to dust my surface with powdered sugar rather than flour.  Roll the dough from the center out on all strokes.   Roll it to the desired thickness and diameter.  
I own a candy marble and it is great for rolling out pie dough.  I get it very cold by either refrigerating it or setting it out with ice on it for 20 minutes or so. I make sure it is dry then dust it with powdered sugar.
I don't like to dust with flour because I find it makes the crust tough.  To keep the dough from sticking to my rolling pin, I generously coat it with cooking oil., and re-aply if it starts to stick while rolling.  I use a dough knife to gently lift the rolled dough from the marble and fold it in half 2 times to lift it and unfold in the pie pan.  I like to lightly oil the pie plates before filling.
 For pre-baked pie shells, bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 25-35 minutes.
This is a picture of recipe 1.  We felt that the flavor was good, and it was flaky, it seem to be more crisp than the other.  This one is great if you have an egg allergy, as there is no egg and it's a good crust.

This picture is the second recipe.  We thought it was more tender, possibly more flaky.  Since my family can have eggs, we will most likely use this one.

The original recipe for this crust uses Crisco.  I used butter for several reasons.  First is FLAVOR! it just tastes better.  The second is that I learned in my food science class, that when done correctly, butter actually gives a flakier pastry.

IF you need to use a butter substitute (for instance if you have a dairy allergy)  use a butter flavored shortening or margarine for flavor, cut it into cubes and freeze it for a while so it doesn't blend into your flour too much.

Next I will share with you some of my favorite fillings, my cream pie recipe and some no-bake cheesecakes we always have at thanksgiving.  Chocolate peanut butter pie anyone?