A gluten-free pie crust you can tackle from scratch

  • Plated and ready-to-enjoy gluten-free cherry pie.

    Plated and ready-to-enjoy gluten-free cherry pie. Courtesy of Don Mauer

 
 
Posted11/30/2022 6:00 AM

Yes, it's true, I love pie. Cherry's my favorite, followed by blueberry. Never been a big apple pie fan. I do love chocolate pie topped with whipped cream.

A pie crust's ingredient list is short and implies it's easy to make. No, no, no; not true.

 

A standard pie crust is made from flour, fat (butter, lard or vegetable shortening like Crisco), salt and ice water. That's it. Some folks use a little vinegar, and others add a little vodka. Vodka?

All-purpose flour contains gluten, just not as much as bread flour. Vodka works to get pie dough moist without triggering the gluten, making it tough.

Nearly 50 years ago, I began making pies. Over the following years, my pie crusts rarely met my expectations. After baking, I even had a pie that ended up with a mostly raw bottom.

It took me a long time to perfect blind baking a pie crust. Blind baking means baking the crust without a filling and then filling the baked crust with a filling that's not going to be baked, such as a chocolate cream pie.

Pie crust and pie baking shouldn't be that hard.

Here's a fresh, out-of-the-oven gluten-free cherry pie with a homemade pie crust.
Here's a fresh, out-of-the-oven gluten-free cherry pie with a homemade pie crust. - Courtesy of Don Mauer
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Last year, since I'm doing my best to avoid wheat flour, I made a pie with a frozen, premade, gluten-free crust, using it to make a cherry pie. My biggest issue: a devil of a time getting the top crust to release from the pie pan in which it came.

This year I read a recipe from Nicki Sizemore's website, fromscratchfast.com, for making a gluten-free pie from scratch. Sizemore is sold on Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free Flour. I found a source for that flour and, following Sizemore's recipe, made a gluten-free crust.

Sizemore uses high-quality ingredients for her crust, and I followed suit. Plus, I used a few techniques I learned from The Great British Baking Show, like refrigerating the bowl and blade for my food processor and holding the diced butter in my refrigerator until the last minute.

I learned that to make a flaky crust, the fat in the crust, in this instance, butter, needs to be hard, so it ends up in small pieces. If the butter or the processor are warm, the butter will blend into the dough and not be flaky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

My no-sugar-added tart cherry pie filling is terrific, and I used it for my pie. Granted, the crust is not easy to work with; it can stick to the rolling pin and the parchment paper.

Once I got my crust and filling together, it baked beautifully. My crust was flakier than any wheat flour crust and tasted just as good.

Would I make it again? Maybe. It is time-consuming, as are most pie crusts. And, once in a while may be worth it when I'm craving a piece of gluten-free pie.

Here's my version of Sizemore's crust recipe.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at 1leanwizard@gmail.com.

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