Gluten Free or GF Pie Crust

We tried mixes, and recipes, and had almost given up on ever having a decent pie again, when we discovered this method for making gluten free pie crust. Let’s just mention that pie was one of the most important foods in our repertoire, and we used to be very proud of our pie crust, and then we entered the parallel universe of gluten free cooking, for medical reasons. We went in to pie withdrawal – depression, cold shakes, somber mood…..after all, what were we going to have for breakfast, if we couldn’t eat left-over pie?

Well, the news is good – you can have your pie and eat it too!

Use the Dream Pastry Recipe from Bette Hagman’s More From the Gluten-Free Gourmet. A very similar recipe is also called “Donna Jo’s pie crust” and is available on the internet. (Be careful about the recipes on the internet, which are sometimes missing key ingredients in the list of flours, such as the sweet rice flour, for example!) Of course, we don’t exactly follow the recipe anyway, so we have printed here the method we are using at the moment…..

We prefer the flavor of lemon juice to the flavor of vinegar, so we use fresh lemon juice in the recipe. Also, we use one stick of gluten free margarine and one of butter (we don’t like Crisco so much). Lastly, we sprinkle the top of a two crust fruit pie liberally with sugar.

To save time and aggravation when hand-mixing the pie dough, we use a large cheese grater to grate the butter into the dry ingredients. This makes it much easier to get the “lima bean” sized pieces of butter called for in the recipe. We have also used a Braun food processor to make this crust, and it was acceptable, you just have to be careful not to overmix the butter.

Here are the ingredients for one two-crust pie shell:

Dry ingredients:

1/2 cup tapioca flour (tapioca starch) – make sure this is the flavorless kind, not the fermented find
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch (katakuriko in Japanese stores – this is NOT the same as potato flour)
1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko flour – not the same as white rice flour)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup gluten free margarine or butter
1/2 cup butter

(we use all butter)

Liquid ingredients:

1 egg
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon ice water

wax paper
sweet rice flour to sprinkle on the wax paper
lots of sugar for sprinkling on the top of the pie

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with a fork. If you own a sifter, you could sift them together, but it is not necessary. Grate in the butter and margarine using a large cheese grater. Mix the dry ingredients and the shortenings up with a fork until the pieces of butter are distributed evenly – you don’t need to get the pieces of butter as small as they would be in a wheat crust. The size of “lima beans” may be a little large, but don’t go smaller than kidney beans! Anyway, mix up the liquid ingredients until well combined, then pour them in to the dry ingredients and mix together. Squish the dough into a ball and wrap it up to store in the refrigerator for one hour. (For the record, we have made this crust in the winter and gone straight to rolling it out, without refrigerating it. You wouldn’t do this when the air is warm in the summer, but it is ok to do this in the winter when it is cold.)

Divide the dough in half.

To roll out this crust, spread out a piece of wax paper, dust it with sweet rice flour or GF flour mix, or whatever comes handy, put one piece of the dough on top, sprinkle with more flour, spread another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, and roll out with a rolling pin. * The dough is now contained between two sheets of wax paper. Peel off the top piece of wax paper, flip the crust on top of the pie plate, adjust it to fit the dish and remove the other piece of wax paper. Your counter is clean, and your pie crust did not fall to pieces when you tried to put it in the pie dish! You rock!

Fill your pie, then repeat the pie crust rolling maneuver for the top crust. Cut pretty holes in the top crust before transferring it to the pie, if you wish. After putting the top crust on the pie, sprinkle the top crust liberally with sugar – maybe 2 – 4 Tablespoons! Cut steam vent holes in the crust, if you forgot to do it before, and then bake the pie. This crust gets nice and brown and crispy, and it has a delicious buttery flavor! You bake it as you would any other pie crust (about 50 minutes at 400 degrees, for a filled two-crust fruit pie.)

*Note about the rolling pin: We use a piece of dowel from the hardware store – makes a perfect rolling pin, and costs very little. The piece we purchased was being sold as “closet pole” and is 1″ in diameter and 18 inches long.

Some Pies to Try:

See this post for yet more thoughts on gluten free pie crust: Click here.

Make sure to use all gluten free ingredients!

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