7.05.2011

do you know what today is?


It’s Pie Day. And last I checked, there were over 1400 people participating in this enthusiastic event organized by Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. That’s a whole lot of pie. So don’t even try to see them all, tempting as it may be. Better to check out a couple dozen or so, until you’ve looked at and read about so many tantalizing versions that you’re compelled to abandon the computer in favor of your kitchen and a pie plate. A much better use of your time, in my opinion.

But before you take off from this page, in search of more pies and tarts and crostatas and quiches and everything else all these exuberant bakers have created, I’d like to talk to you for just a moment about my gluten-free pie crust.


I haven’t brought it up in a while. I don’t want it to seem like I’m harping on the subject. But if you’re gluten-free, I really think you need to know about this pie crust. This is the crust that I used for my favorite apple pie, for the galette that initiated my love affair with apricots, for the tomato tart that kicked off last summer for me, and it's the crust that has most recently been featured at 40 Paper as both a peach-basil crostata and a raspberry-almond crostata. This is the crust that a recent (non-gluten-free) customer at the restaurant was so impressed by that she had a whole conversation about it with Josh, and was amazed to discover it is gluten-free. And she was no ordinary customer – she had a pastry arts degree.

When a person who knows her pastry and can eat the best gluten-full pie crusts fawns over a gluten-free one, that’s when you know it’s really good.


So yes, this crust tastes wonderful, and it has flaky layers that thrill and amaze me every time I make it. But I also love this crust because of how easy it is to make, and the fact that you could almost be fooled into thinking you’re working with a gluten-full dough when you’re rolling it out. Except, of course, that it’s more forgiving than traditional pie dough. There’s no gluten in it, so you don’t need to worry about it toughening up. If it happens to crack or break, you can just patch it back together, and no one will be the wiser. And although keeping things cold counts during the making of the dough, once you’re at the rolling-out stage, you actually want the dough to warm up a bit; it makes it more pliable, easier to work with and less apt to break apart.

I don’t know anyone who’s afraid of pie. But I know a lot of people who let pie dough intimidate them into a corner, unable to believe that they could possibly harbor the skills needed to make a good crust. Throw in the need for that crust to be gluten-free, and the intimidation becomes paralyzing. So many people miss out on pie because of this!


Today’s event is designed to change that. To show people that pie doesn’t need to be perfect to be good. That there are ways around the fear of pie crust – maybe you make a crust that just needs to be pressed into the pan, or you forgo the dough altogether and make a cookie or graham crust, or perhaps you just buy a premade crust. If it ends with a fresh, homemade pie in your house, it’s all good.

But if you want to make a crust, if you want to feel the satisfaction of overcoming your trepidation and make a pie that your friends and family won’t be able to get enough of, then you should make this crust.

If you want to make a gluten-free crust that will still be talked about long after the pie it held is gone, this is the crust you want.

Happy Pie Day, everyone!


Raspberry-Lime Pie
Yields one double-crust 9-inch pie

We devoured this pie yesterday, at our family’s annual 4th of July barbeque. I had made it in the morning, in the rush of packing and organizing and trying to get out the door at a reasonable hour. It’s not my most attractive effort, with cracks and leaks and even some burned edges, and all the photos taken quickly, in bad lighting. But it tasted phenomenal. And that’s the wonderful thing about pie: it’s such a redeeming, Everyman sort of dessert. Even when it’s falling apart, it’s good. There was strong consensus yesterday, however, that this pie wasn't just good. It was amazing.

Make some pie. You’ll be glad you did.

For the crust:
12 Tbsp/180 grams unsalted butter, cold
2 cups/268 grams Tara's gf pastry flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup/4.5 ounces/about 128 grams cream cheese, cold
5 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:
7 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar, depending on the tartness of your berries
4 Tbsp cornstarch
zest of 1 lime
juice of half of one lime
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional, though I highly recommend it)

1 egg, whisked with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Make the crust:
Cut the butter into small pieces. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour mixture in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. (Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to make the recipe in two batches.) Set the bag aside.

Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a large pea. Remove the cover and add the water. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (It is easiest to divide the mixture in half at this point.)

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by pressing and squeezing it, from the outside of the bag, until the dough holds together in one piece. Repeat for remaining dough mixture.

Separately flatten the two halves of dough into discs, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least 45 minutes, and preferably overnight.

Roll out the crust:
Place one disc of dough on a well-floured board. Dust lightly with additional gf flour, and gently roll out into a circle with a diameter of about 11-12 inches. As the dough warms, it will roll out easier; go slowly at first, while it's still cold and fragile. As you roll, periodically lift the dough and rotate it, dusting your board and the top of the dough with additional flour as necessary to ensure that it isn't sticking to your board or rolling pin. If the dough cracks a bit, just press it together with your fingertips - don't worry, this dough can handle a bit of wrangling! When it's the right size, gently pick it up (your rolling pin can be used to 'carry' it), and place it in a 9-inch pie plate, carefully easing the dough into place. Don't try to stretch the dough, as it will just shrink back when baked. Again, any cracks or breaks can be pushed and patched back together. Trim the dough so that it overhangs your pie plate by about an inch. (This dough tastes really good by itself, so when you trim the edges, you may want to save those scraps and bake them off for a little snack. Treat yourself.)

Assemble and bake the pie:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a mixing bowl, combine the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lime zest and juice, and cardamom (if using), and gently stir to thoroughly coat the berries. Pour the filling into prepared crust, mounding it towards the center.

Roll out the second disc of dough in the same manner as the first.

Brush the perimeter of the bottom crust with the egg wash, and gently place the second dough circle on the pie, pressing the two crusts together (against the lip of the pie plate) to seal them. Press/patch together any cracks or tears that form. Trim any excess crust and fold the edge under itself, decoratively crimping if desired. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several slits in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape during baking.

Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, covering the crust with a foil collar after 45 minutes if it browns too quickly. The pie is done when the filling is bubbling and thickened.

Try to cool the pie on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting into it. Serve warm or at room temperature just as it is, or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

7 comments:

  1. I reckons that's a pretty fine looking pie Tara! I've been eyeing up your pastry recipe for some time. I stop when I see the cream cheese (that we don't tolerate so well), maybe one day I will just have to try it and handle the consequences just to have some of that flaky goodness! It looks very similar to a sour cream pastry I used to make years ago when I cooked in Sydney. That double whammy of fat makes all the difference :-) Happy pie day xx

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  2. Emma - Thanks so much! How about trying the recipe with a dairy-free cream cheese? (Do you have that Down Under?) I've got no experience with it, but I assume it's designed to mimic regular cream cheese, so it might work here. I'd hate for you to have to endure any 'consequences,' even for great pie! And yes, fat does miraculous stuff, doesn't it?

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  3. Cream cheese is a great addition to pie dough - I love the flavor - and the plastic bag trick is brilliant. I am going to try that. Do you think it would still hold together without the x-gum? I'm trying to avoid it and boy, do I miss it sometimes. Like in pie crust. That is one very pretty pie!

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  4. Lisa - Thank you! That plastic bag trick is via Rose Levy Beranbaum, who's pretty brilliant herself. As for leaving out the xanthan, I don't know. I'm trying to limit my intake as well, but haven't dared to try the crust without it. It's so completely perfect as it is, and I'm afraid of pie disappointment if it doesn't turn out as well sans gum. Guess I should take my own advice and just go for it!

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  5. Okay, you win. I am really really intimidated by pie crust, but honestly, how many Pilsbury crusts can I pull out of those red boxes? So I'm going to do my best and try to make a pie crust, gluten free for my stepdaughter no less, this weekend! Thanks for the inspiratio

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  6. Bunny - Hooray for pie! I'm so glad this event has convinced you to try your hand at gluten-free pie crust. I'm sure your stepdaughter will love it. And remember, as long as your ingredients are good, the end product will taste good, regardless of any messy appearances. :)

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  7. Yes we do have soy cream cheese in Australia, but it's really yuk compared to regular. Might be okay in a pastry though? I'll let you know :-)

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