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For years I’ve felt really bad when someone asked me if I had a gluten free pie crust recipe. I didn’t really shout it from the rooftops, but I’d never even successfully made a pie crust of any sort or seen one made. My attempts at making gluten free pie crusts had been dismal failures, even when I used a boxed mix. One of my first attempts at a gluten free pie crust was so hard it squeaked when I cut it.
This year I decided that I was going to change all that. I warned my husband that our weekly dessert would be pie until I conquered the gluten free pie crust. I’ve baked and baked and baked, making discoveries and improvements with each attempt. And, a few weeks ago, I finally got it. A good (and easy) gluten free pie crust recipe.
What It Means To Develop An Easy Gluten Free Pie Crust
Now, you have a lot of options when you make a pie crust. You can go all out with fancy techniques and toppings and make it really hard. That’s not what I’ve done here. I was specifically trying to develop an easy, roll-out gluten free pie crust. I had been intimidated by pie crust recipes for a long time, so I wanted my recipe to be welcoming and easy for even the newest gluten free baker.
That goal dictated some of the ingredient choices. You may not love that I’ve used shortening instead of butter. Butter is much more finicky to work with, so it wasn’t a good choice for an easy pie crust. I’ve also kept the ingredient list as small and simple as possible. As a result, the crust doesn’t brown well….if at all. There are solutions for that, and I’ll include those in later pie crust recipes. This is the easy, beginner recipe and I wanted it to have as few troublesome ingredients and as few steps as possible.
The Wonders of Double Crust Gluten Free Pie
One of the other criteria that I had for this pie crust recipe was that it could not be a press-in-the-pan pie crust. I’ve made good gluten free pie crusts like that. They were phenomenal as far as taste. However you can’t make a double crust pie with a press-in-the-pan crust. John’s favorite pie is double-crust apple pie, so I needed a roll-out crust recipe. Also, Pat-in-the-pan crusts generally use cream cheese as the fat. I love cream cheese, but I very much wanted this particular recipe to be casein free, so cream cheese was out.
Let’s just focus for a moment on how awesome it is to be able to make a gluten free double crusted pie. Did you really ever think that was possible? I didn’t! After all the failures I had, and after talking to experienced gluten free bakers that had been trying for 20 years to make a gluten free crust that met their high standards, I really wondered if it was possible to make a gluten free pie crust that I’d be proud to put on my blog. I’m very, very happy to share this recipe with you and I hope that you’re family enjoys a nice, slice of pie very soon.
Easy Peasy Gluten Free Pie Crust
(makes one double crust pie, or two single-crust pies)
120 g (1 c.) cornstarch
128 g (1 c.) tapioca starch
80 g (1/2 c.) brown rice flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
192 g (1 c.) shortening
8 Tbsp. (1/2 c.) ice-cold water
1 tsp. salt
Start by measuring out your flour and salt and combining both in a large mixing bowl. Measuring the flours by weight is more accurate, and that’s more important in pie recipes than in some other sorts of recipes, but I’ve included the volume measurements too if you don’t have a scale.
Step 2 is to ‘cut’ the fat, in this case shortening, into the flour. This simply means that you are going to mix the fat into the flour. The way that you go about this will determine whether you have a “tender” crust or a “flaky” crust. I’m going to give instructions for a tender crust, because it is the easier of the two options.
For a tender crust, pinch and rub the shortening into the flour with your fingers until the flour is the consistency of cornmeal. If you want a flaky crust, the measure out your shortening and divide it into small pieces. Freeze those pieces and then cut them into your dough. You can use a pastry cutter or just press the thin pieces with your fingers. You want the shortening to be visible and in thin, flaky pieces.
The third step is to add the cold water. Just chill it with a few ice cubes and then pull the ice cubes out before you add the water. Drizzle the water over the flour and then mix your dough. I do this with my hands, but you could also use your mixer or a young helper if your hands are not up to the task. The dough should form into a ball rather easily. If for some reason it doesn’t add more cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time.
Now, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a thick disc and refrigerate it for a minimum of two hours or as much as a couple of days. This is very important as the flour needs time to absorb the water.
The last step is to roll the pie dough out. Start with the disc and roll from the center out to the edge. Rotate your dough a bit to the left or right and then repeat. If you keep rotating your dough after every roll then you will get a circle shape and you will minimize the chances that the dough sticks.
I’ve been rolling my dough out on cutting board with just a bit of flour on the board and rolling pin. You can also roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper or quality plastic wrap. Both options are helpful in keeping the dough from sticking. What I’d really love is Pastry Mat “>this pastry mat because it would make it so easy to know when my crust is the right size for my pan.
Follow the baking instructions in your pie recipe after this point. I’ll be posting a few pie recipes over the next couple of weeks, but once you have a gluten free pie crust you can really follow any pie recipe. If the recipe calls for some flour in the filling, then I usually just use brown rice flour or sorghum flour. As long as it’s a small amount of flour, say 1/4 c. or less, using a single GF flour is generally okay.
Notes on Ingredients & Substitutions –
I originally tested this recipe as written. I’ve since tested the recipe with 2 c. of corn starch and no tapicoa starch (I ran out!) and could not discern any difference. If you are allergic to corn, then I think this would work perfectly well with all tapioca starch. Many gluten free pie crust recipes use sweet rice flour (check your nearest Asian food store) and that might be a good substitute option as well. I’m hoping to try both those variations once we get to a large town and I can restock my flour stash. Remember to always look for a gluten free label on your foods, but especially on corn starch. Argo is my favorite brand of cornstarch because it does have a gluten free label.
This recipe uses shortening rather than butter, because shortening is much easier to work with and I intended this to be an easy recipe. I tested the recipe with Crisco shortening, but if you’re not cool with Crisco then Earth Balance Shortening or Spectrum Shortening may be better options for you. The Earth Balance shortening is labeled gluten free. Crisco shortenings are not labeled gluten free. You can read Crisco’s comments on the gluten free status of it’s shortening here. I called Spectrum and their shortening products do not carry a gluten free label either. The ingredient listings do not contain any obvious ingredients that contain gluten, but for whatever reason they have not labeled them as gluten free.
By they way, I found the butter flavored shortening to be too artificially flavored and much preferred the unflavored shortening for this recipe.
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Read More About Gluten Free Pie Crusts