It is easy. I promise you. It is easy to make pie.
Pie intimidates people. I wrote about this last year, so there is no need to repeat myself. Just trust me, especially those of you who have never made a pie from scratch you can do it. Gluten-free or not, you can make pie.
There are a dozen different recipes for gluten-free pie crust that work. I like this one best, just from my own taste. But it’s easy to play with this one. Instead of white rice flour, try some brown rice flour. If you don’t like sorghum, or can’t find it, I’m certain that teff or amaranth would work in its place. Tapioca flour might even work better than potato starch, but yesterday I had potato starch at hand. Play. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Contrary to Hallmark, Norman Rockwell, and Martha Stewart belief systems inculcated into us, your pie does not have to look perfect. It just has to taste good.
This one tastes good.
Now, if this is your first gluten-free Thanksgiving, and you are daunted by the idea of making gluten-free crust from scratch, there are plenty of alternatives.
Gluten-Free Pantry makes a Perfect Pie Crust mix that I can attest to, since I used it for the first six months after my celiac diagnosis. (Then, my food scientist inclinations took over and I stopped using mixes.)
Mona’s Gluten-Free has a great bread roll and pastry mix that makes fantastic pie crusts. As well, the inimitable Mona has her own blog now, which includes a great post on a gluten-free Thanksgiving. (As well, she has an incredible photograph of some gorgeous gingerbread men that is making my mouth water!)
And, for another option, in case you just don’t want to bake at all, there is Crave Bakery. Now, for purposes of integrity, I have to tell you that Cameo, the president of the company, sent me one of their pumpkin tarts overnight the other day, just so I could taste it. That’s a photograph of its crust, just above these words. However, I am sent masses of gluten-free food for free, and most of it I never mention. This pie is good. The fact that it is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free makes it even more astounding. The crust is flaky, the pumpkin filling dense with taste, and the whole pie a beautiful sight. Crave goods are available in Whole Foods on the west coast. However, if you live somewhere else and really need one of these tarts, I am sure that Cameo could send you one!
Still, I have to say, it’s worth a shot, even if you are scared. Go ahead. Make a pie.
(Just a note from Thanksgiving, 2012. In the years since 2006, we’ve developed a gluten-free pie dough we much prefer over this one.)
My favorite gluten-free pie crust, adapted from Rebecca Reilly’s Gluten-Free Baking
This recipe is only slightly adapted from the excellent, essential book, Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly. Her recipes work, and they work well. Even more important, they aren’t just content to be gluten-free and barely palatable, as so many of the earliest books on gluten-free cooking were. These recipes rock. I have made half a dozen foods out of this, and not a single person has been able to guess that these are gluten-free. If you don’t own this book, and you have baking experience (it’s clearly not for sheer beginners) you should buy it, now.
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon strong cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon from World Spice Merchants)
8 tablespooons (or, one stick) cold butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 ice-cold water, or enough to make the dough stick together
Mix together all the dry ingredients, including the sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into little pieces, about 1/2-inch thick and drop the pieces into the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork, meld the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter has crumbled into pea-sized pieces.
Make a well in the dry ingredients. Drop the egg and apple cider vinegar in, then stir them in, gently, with a fork, stirring from the center out. Once they are incorporated into the dry ingredients, slowly drizzle the ice-cold water into the mixture, a little at a time, then stirring to see if it has become dough yet. You do not want this dough to be too wet. Add water only it all coheres together.
At this point, drop the ball of dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. (Prepare this ahead, unless you want to wipe dough off the box of parchment paper later!) Place another piece of parchment paper, the same size, on top of the dough. Gently, smoosh the dough outward, equally in all directions, until it is a thick, round cake of dough, about the size of a pie plate.
Refrigerate the ball of dough, for as long as you can stand. Ideally, you would prepare the dough in the evening and refrigerate overnight. Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least twenty minutes before you want to work with it.
Leave the dough in the parchment-paper sandwich and roll it out. By rolling it, gently, between the pieces of parchment paper, you will not need to add more flour to the mix. Roll it out as thin as you can, then strip the top piece of parchment paper off the dough. Gently, lay your favorite pie plate on top of the dough, then flip the whole thing over. The dough should sag into the pie plate. You can crimp the edges at this point. If some of the dough falls off the sides, don’t worry. Simply re-attach the pieces to the crust-to-be by pressing in with your fingers.
You can pre-bake the pie crust, if you like. With this pumpkin pie, however, I just pour the pumpkin filling directly in and bake it immediately. It works well.
Oh, and for the filling? Just the recipe off the Libby’s pumpkin puree can. It works every time.