September 4, 2011 by Flora Dawn
Out of all the desserts I make, I must admit, pie is my favorite.
There is something extremely comforting about perfectly ripened, slightly sweetened fruit, encased between layers or flaky, buttery crust. Or a smooth, velvety pudding pie topped with whipped cream or meringue. Let’s face it, pie is perhaps the perfect dessert.
And yet, few home bakers will tackle making pie crust from scratch. Instead they avoid making pies altogether or attempt to make “homemade” only after heading to the grocery store for a mix or refrigerated crust.
I must admit, I have never purchased one of those mixes or refrigerator pie crusts, so maybe they are better than they sound (but I seriously doubt it).
I’ve always made pie crust from scratch. It does take a little practice and patience, but it’s definitely doable. And I encourage you to give it a try.
I have made several different gluten-free pie crusts, however, one of my kids has multiple food allergies and accommodating all of her allergies is a bit difficult. And let’s face it, after too many substitutions, what you are left with is hardly the traditional, original-tasting dessert.
After numerous failures, I have found a really great tasting, flaky, and yes, buttery pie crust that is gluten-free, egg-free, and nut-free! It is based on a recipe from food blogger and pastry chef Tara Barker.
Like all pastry recipes, this does require the usual patience and time. You have to chill the ingredients and refrigerate the dough before rolling. And yes, making pies from scratch will most likely mess up clean kitchen counter-tops (and if your like me, your floor, sink, and oven as well). But the end result is worth the hassle.
I used a food processor to make this dough, however, if you don’t own one you can use a pastry blender or fork to combine the ingredients.
This dough is nice to handle and rolls with ease (at least as long as it’s chilled). And if it cracks or gets tears you can easily patch it your fingers. And that’s all before it even goes into the hot oven. It comes out nicely browned, and when you bite into it, it tastes just like pie crust should.
A perfect piece of pie, or in my case a pocket pie, is so worth the effort.
I used this dough and Freezer Apple Pie Filling I had stowed away from last fall to make some amazing (and I think adorable) pocket pies. The pocket pie press was at Target for around $5 but similar tools can be found at Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table. I can’t say it worked perfectly, but it did produce cuter pocket pies than I could have otherwise.
Butter Pie Crust
Makes one double crust (or enough for about 8 pocket pies)
- 12 tablespoons cold butter ( 1 1/2 sticks)
- 2 cups pastry flour blend
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup cold cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons very cold water
- Cut the butter into half-tablespoon size pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a covered container and freeze until frozen solid. Place dry ingredients (flour blend, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder) in resealable freezer bag or covered container and freeze until chilled thoroughly, about 30 minutes.
- Place the flour mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times or until combined. Add the cream cheese and pulse several times. Add butter pieces and continue to pulse until butter is incorporated and no pieces are larger than pea-sized. Add the ice water through the chute and pulse until a dough is formed. Remove dough from food processor and knead until a dough that holds together is formed; you can do this on the counter or place the dough inside the freezer bag and squash it together (saving your hands from getting really messy).
- Divide dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap, pressing down to form discs. Place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, at least two hours.
- Roll dough into an approximate 10-inch circle, turning and dusting with cornstarch as necessary to prevent from sticking.
- Depending on the pie recipe you are using, you might have to adjust cooking temperature and times, but I typically bake pies in a preheated 400 oven until the crust is browned (for my pocket pies that was 25 minutes).