I was having coffee with a friend this week and we were discussing the techniques of baking gluten-free. I was telling her that usually already gluten-free recipes don’t work for me. I talked about how I have taken my old glutened recipes and then converted them. She looked at me and said that I was lucky because I knew how to cook from before becoming gluten-free, but that a lot of people didn’t start cooking and baking until after they got diagnosed. We talked about the lack of available prepared GF food and how even if there was more available, that we probably couldn’t afford it!
That brings me to the school of pie crust. My grandma was a pie-er. She used lard. My mom was a cake-er. She made some pie crusts, bought some pie crusts. She used Crisco. I’m a cake-er. I bought my pie crusts. Fast forward a few years. I married a pie-er, so I really had to come to terms with GF pie crusts. The first recipe had eggs. Then a friend of mine needed eggless. So a new recipe was created. Then someone needed dairy-free. Then someone needed soy-free. And on and on. You get the picture. The recipe I am going to give is flexible enough to accommodate all of these needs.
If you were a pie-er before going GF and you made all those fancy flaky pie crusts, throw your technique pretty much out the window. You need to be prepared, because the technique I’m going to share will probably horrify you. For all you new pie converts: Get you rolling pins ready and be prepared for pies, quiches, galettes and whatever else you might want to make with some pie crust dough.
About pie crust: Usually with a gluten pie crust, you have to “cut” the fat into the crust gradually by hand to achieve flakiness. The function of this is to break up the fat, coat it with flour to trap it into being flaky. And by not working it heavily or using a mixer, you do not activate the gluten to start producing it’s tough gluten-strands. If you activate the gluten, you will have a very tough pie crust.
Because this is gluten-free, we don’t have to worry about activating gluten-strands! We do want to coat the fat with flour to achieve flakiness, but our toughness will come with not enough fat and not enough mixing, versus the other way around!
Fearless GF Pie Crust
Ingredients, Makes 2-3 nine-inch, deep dish crusts:
2 1/2 c. My GF Flour Mix (click here to see recipe)
2T. granulated sugar (add another 1T. if you are making a sweet pie)
1 t. xanthan gum
1/2 c. butter*
1/2 c. shortening **
1/2 c. water with lots of ice cubes in it.
*you may use all shortening if you wish
**you may use palm shortening also for this if you need to avoid soy. You can use the palm for both the shortening and butter this recipe calls for. If you do, the crust will be very pale and more delicate to work with.
Put all the dry ingredients together in the mixing bowl for your mixer.Next, chop up the COLD butter into chunks and throw it in with the dry stuff. Also throw in your shortening.
Ok, next the bowl onto your mixer, attach the paddle and start up the machine.
After about a minute of mixing, you should start to see things look like this:
If it doesn’t look like that quite yet, whirl for another minute or so. Next, we are going to add the water. This is important: You are not going to add very much water! Although you’ve chilled down quite a bit of water, you are only going to use several teaspoons of it. Start the mixer on a slow speed and gradually pour in the water at a very slow stream. What you are looking for is for the dough to come together in one clump. One it has clumped, stop pouring the water! You do not want it gummy and pasty looking.
Now sprinkle your counter-top with some GF flour mix. Put the dough onto the counter and flatten it, fold it in half, and flatten it again with your hands. Next you can divide it ito 2-3 equal pieces, depending on what you are making.
Now, you can roll out the dough now. Or you can chill it for 15-20 minutes. It works either way. The next thing we are going to do is a trick that I like to use to get the crust into the pan, because GF pie dough can be fragile. Do you have one of those thin, clear, very flexible cutting boards? If you don’t, zip down to the dollar store and get a pack of them. They are a miracle! Take your plastic board and dust it with flour mix. Place your dough in the center of your board and dust the top with flour mix. Commence with the roll-out. When you need to, rotate the board to get a different angle on rolling out the crust. Check and make sure that the crust is not sticking to the bottom of the board. If it is, throw a little more flour dust under it.
Gently slide your hand under the board. Take your pan, place it in the center of your rolled out crust being careful not to press down. Keep one hand under the board and one lightly on top of the pan and FLIP. You will find the dough in the pan and the board ready to slide right off the top. Sometimes a lonely butter chunk may have stuck a bit. That’s ok, just patch it with your finger.
Now it is time to crimp the edges. Start by taking all the crust hanging off the edges and rolling it back towards the pan so you end up with a tall ring around the edge of the pan. If it’s uneven, you can take parts where there is more dough and move it to the part where there is less dough. Start crimping by making a “v” with the left hand, placing it near the crust and with the right hand, push your thumb out from the inside into the center of the “v”.
Now you have pie crust. Important note: if you crust doesn’t look like this the first time around-keep practicing. I have rolled out hundreds and hundreds of crusts over the years and I can do it in my sleep so basically, I’ve done this before.
You can do a few things with your crust. Fill it now, bake it eat it. Wrap it and put it in the fridge till later. Blind bake-it (we’ll talk about that another time). Or wrap it really well and freeze it as it will keep several months in the freezer if wrapped well.
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