Spotlight Recipe: Gluten-Free Girl’s Pie Crust

by in Gluten-Free, November 12, 2010

gluten-free pumpkin pie

Shauna James Ahern, better known as Gluten-Free Girl, is sharing her favorite gluten-free Thankgiving recipes with us! Check back next week for her gluten-free stuffing recipe.

Pie. Who doesn’t love pie? Before I had to cut gluten out of my life, I made pie after pie after pie. When I lived in New York, my roommates and friends and I went apple picking upstate one weekend. We came home with so many apples that I made seven apple pies in one afternoon, then invited all our friends over for a slice of pie and a glass of milk.

So, as you can imagine, I was pretty upset at the idea that I could never eat pie again because I had to give up gluten. So I came up with a delicious gluten-free alternative to classic pie crust  — now, I’m sharing it with you.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust Tips
There are two secrets to great pie crust. One, work cold. You want cold flours, cold fats, and cold water. Be patient in between steps when you have to refrigerate or freeze here. It’s worth the wait.

Two, you will see that this recipe is written in ounces. You want 9 ounces of combined flours, 6 ounces of fats, and 3 ounces of water. It’s a classic 3-2-1 ratio for pie crust. Just like the gluten ones.

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you want one. All gluten-free baking is better when you do it by weight. After a few tries, this will eventually seem easy. Dare I say it? Easy as pie.

Gluten-Free Pie Dough
This pie dough comes out tender, flaky, and a is wonderful accompaniment to pumpkin filling. (The filling is up to you here. We always use the one off the back of that famous can of pumpkin puree!)

2 ounces sorghum flour
2 ounces corn flour
2 ounces potato starch
3 ounces sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter
2 ounces leaf lard
3 ounces water (approximately)

Put the sorghum flour, corn flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour into a large bowl. Whisk the flours to make them one flour. Add the xanthan and guar gum and salt.

Cube the butter and leaf lard into 1-inch pieces. Lay them gently on the flours. Put the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Working quickly, take the bowl out of the freezer. Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the butter and leaf lard into the flours, coating the fat. Stop when the butter and leaf lard are the size of peas. Don’t go too far. You still want to see the fats in the flours.

Pour the water onto the mixture. Stir gently with your hands. You are looking for the flours/fats to be just wet enough that it will stick together when you pinch it. You might need a tablespoon or two more water, depending on the day. If you add a bit too much water, that’s okay. It’s better than a dry dough.

Bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten it, gently, into a disc.Wrap this in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before working with it again.

Pull the dough out of the refrigerator. Lay down 2 pieces of plastic wrap (you can also use wax paper or parchment paper), then put the disc of dough on top of the plastic wrap. Cover the disc with enough plastic wrap to be able to roll out the dough into a 10-inch circle.

Roll out the dough, from the center out, gently.

When you have rolled out the dough into a large circle, lift up the top layer of plastic wrap. Gently lift the pie dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Settle it in gently. Don’t stretch or push it around too much.

Don’t worry if the dough breaks. Take small pieces of the dough and fill in any holes, smoothing the dough with slightly moistened fingers. Crimp the edges of the pie dough.

Put the pie pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Put a buttered piece of aluminum foil onto the bottom of the pie dough, nestling it gently against the sides. Fill the foil with dried beans or pie weights.

Bake the pie dough at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove the beans and aluminum foil, carefully, then return the pie dough to the oven again, for about 8 minutes this time.

You now have a blind-baked pie crust, ready to finish with pumpkin filling.

Shauna James Ahern blogs about living the (gluten-free) sweet life at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.  Her new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, is available in bookstores now.

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