April 27, 2010 by Flora Dawn
I still remember my first attempt at making pie crust. I was about 12 years old, and although I cooked on a regular basis I was unaware that the saying easy as pie was a lie.
For some reason I couldn’t get the dough to form a ball, it wouldn’t roll out properly, and it certainly was not going to be lifted and draped over that pie plate. The beautifully crimped and golden brown pie that I had envisioned was not to be and it left me in tears.
I read some magazine articles and watched some pastry chefs on food network and in no time was able to produce a perfect pastry.
Here are a few of my hints:
- You’ll hear people swear by butter or shortening. I prefer butter flavored shortening or a combination of butter & shortening. You get the best of both worlds; butter lends wonderful flavor, but the shortening will produce a flaky pie crust.
- Use ice cold water, and only add it in small increments.
- Although I prefer a pastry cutter to mix the ingredients, a food processor is very quick and great for the beginner.
- Refrigerate, refrigerate, refrigerate. Don’t overlook this step. Pie crust has to be chilled to roll out correctly and once the bottom crust is put in the pan I refrigerate again while I prepare the filling.
- Try not to overwork the dough, but don’t be alarmed if you have to scrunch it back into a ball of dough and re-roll it several times; it happens.
- Be patient and try to have a sense of humor after all it’s just food.
Although I have been making pie crust for years, I have been very hesitant to make a gluten free version. For starters, gluten free baked goods can be a bit challenging. Not only do you have taste, but texture to deal with. And let’s face it pie crust eludes many home chefs, that is why the freezer case is full of pre-made versions.
I have a confession, I have never purchased a pie crust mix or pre-made crust. It goes against my “from scratch” nature, so we haven’t had a real pie in over six months. Sure we have had graham-like crusts, but not a nice flaky apple pie.
It isn’t that I haven’t poured over cookbooks and the internet looking for recipes, because I have. I just couldn’t bring myself to try it. The task seemed too daunting.
But folks, it happened, I just had to have an apple pie this week. And so I pulled out my latest and very promising cookbook, Easy Gluten-Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone and I made pie crust.
The good news: it worked and tasted fine. The bad news: like most gluten free baked goods, it requires a whole list of ingredients and produced a delicate dough that was difficult to handle. I thought it wise to start with just a simple bottom pie crust, no fancy crimping or fluting required.
Gluten Free Pie Crust (single crust)
I am not used to putting sugar in my pastry, so it tasted a bit sweet to our family; but otherwise this is a very “normal” pie crust. I found the dough hard to handle and ended up pressing the dough back together when it tore, it’s a very soft dough so this method worked fine.
Use the finest rice flour available, I use Authentic Food’s Superfine Rice Flour, but the rice flour at the Asian market will also work.
- 1/2 cup white rice flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 potato starch
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I prefer butter flavored) or 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 egg
- 1-2 Tb cold water
- In a large bowl mix dry ingredients.
- Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening or butter into the dry ingredients until small clumps form.
- Add egg and water, stirring with a fork to combine; dough should start to pull away from sides of bowl and form a ball. If this doesn’t happen add water, 1 tsp at a time.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and press down to form a disk. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (the author states that you’ll have to let the chilled dough rest 15 minutes before rolling out)
- Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dust with rice flour. Place dough on top and dust with more rice flour. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and roll pie crust to about 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and flip your pie pan upside down on the middle of your rolled out crust. Place your hand under the crust and quickly turn over, so that the crust is in the pan and the pan is right side up on the counter. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and trim edges around pie pan. If the dough tore in any spots, simple press with your fingers to mend.
- Return to refrigerator while you prepare a filling.
*This recipe can be doubled, but the egg amount doesn’t double with the rest of the ingredients; just use one egg.