Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gluten Free Pie Crust

My dad has Celiac so I've learned to do a LOT of gluten free cooking over the last couple of years.  In fact, my sister and I have become quite adept at making GF recipes taste like the real thing - and that's the problem with most GF recipes and commercially available GF products: they taste like garbage!  And all those poor unfortunate gluten free folks out there have simply reconciled themselves to their fate of having a disease that forces them to have to accept horrible tasting, poor renditions of normal food that they used to eat.  So my sister and I have done gobs of trial and error experiments and have come up with some stuff that you'd never know is GF.  I'll include some here on my blog once in a while so others can finally know what it's like to eat decent tasting food again.

I had some crust bits left over after making a pie for Thanksgiving and made it into an apple pie type thingy that I made up as I went along.

 OK, these pictures were taken after I'd already eaten half of it.  It was so good!

So all of this is about a GF pie crust I made for Thanksgiving.  I had gone all over town trying to buy a GF pie crust, but everyone was out, so I knew I'd have to just make one from scratch.  I looked online and found a recipe from that sounded do-able and got to work.


I want to share the recipe I use for GF all-purpose flour mix.  The main problem with most GF flours at the store is that they're made from about a hundred different kinds of flours and other ingredients and preservatives.  And even the GF flour mix recipes that you find online or in most GF cookbooks still include a long list that is not only intimidating, but also VERY EXPENSIVE to put together.  Last year my folks were at a GF expo and met a gal who had published a GF cookbook of real live every day food that people actually eat in average homes across America (not all that frou-frou stuff that you find in most GF cookbooks, as if you get diagnosed with Celiac and immediately develop a fine taste for gourmet shi-shi food that takes two hours to prepare, rather than wanting to eat what you've been eating for all your life).  The gal's name is Christina Davis, and her book is called "Irresistibly Gluten Free: Simple Family Favorite Recipes".
Irresistibly Gluten Free by Christina Davis published by Brigham Distributing (2010) [Paperback]

She has developed the shortest recipe for the simplest GF flour I've ever heard of, which she calls "UNflour".  I also want to point out that every commercial GF flour is made of very heavy non-wheat flours, so no wonder your final result is a rock hard loaf of bread or concrete pancakes.  If you want your food to turn out light and fluffy, you have to use light and fluffy ingredients in your GF mix.  This is not rocket science (yet the commercial GF industry still hasn't figured this out, but I, a nobody housewife with no food industry experience, has.  Gee, funny that.)  So here's the mix and I want you to note that it does not use any of those expensive non-wheat flours, this is all very cheap):

For a small batch:
3 c. rice flour (I use brown)
2 1/2 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. tapioca flour

That's it!  No laundry list of ingredients.  And you can see that these ingredients are inherently light and fluffy - the cornstarch really helps keep it light - but more importantly, these do not have any strong flavor that will taint all your food (that's the hugest secret in GF cooking: NOT making everything taste like that nasty flour mix).  I buy my cornstarch for $1 per box at Walmart, and the two flours at my local health food store, Good Earth ($1.09/lb for brown rice flour, $1.25/lb for tapioca flour- at those prices you can afford to make a double or triple batch).  I put all my ingredients in my designated UNflour container and then put the lid on and just shake it to mix it.  It's way too simple, please try it yourself, you'll never go back.  Oh by the way, any time you're using GF flour, you must also add a small amount of xanthan gum to your recipe.  It's a binder and GF flours are usually made of things that don't really bind together, so you need xanthan gum, usually only about 1/2-1 tsp. per normal size batch of regular pastries like cookies, cakes, etc.  A batch of cookies might need 1 tsp, but a cake might only need 1/2 tsp.


So I found a recipe online which looked awfully similar to normal wheat flour-based pie crust, just with GF flour instead, and I made a few modifications to suit my needs.  However, the website's GF flour mix was long and involved and had ingredients that were heavy and would taint the flavor, so I just substituted my good ol' UNflour and away we went!  So here's my version of the recipe:

1/2 cup Crisco or unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/4 cup UNflour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2-4 Tbsp. ice cold water

Cut shortening into 1/2" pieces and freeze 15-30 minutes.  In a food processor combine UNflour, xanthan gum, salt, & sugar; pulse 5-6 times.  Add shortening and pulse 6-8 times (until it resembles coarse meal).  With processor running, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough just barely clumps together.  Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least one hour before rolling out.  Makes 1 crust.

My notes: I used butter the first time I did this, but I strongly suggest Crisco (no other brand!) because shortening really works better for making a pie crust stay together.  The biggest key to this recipe is to keep everything ICY COLD.  I made a double crust peach pie and both crusts mixed up really quickly and were in the fridge chilling in no time at all.

I can't believe this thing is gluten free, it tastes so good!!!!!!  I seriously am wondering if someone mixed some crack into my UNflour because I couldn't stop going back for more, it was so delicious it was addictive, and it was the CRUST that made it taste so good.  To me, UNflour tastes almost like regular wheat flour when baked up.  OK, I've blabbed long enough.  Bye.

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