Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flaky, Rollable, Tender, Delicious Gluten Free Pie Crust

Yep.  You read that right.  I've conquered it!

My grandma made dessert every day.  Every.  Day.  From scratch.  I lived with her for years and can remember perching myself at the end of her huge chrome-trimmed table as she slid the fabric sheath on her rolling pin and dusted flour on the canvas.  She'd give my aunt Vicki and me the scraps, which we promptly destroyed by overworking and smashing into pot pie sized tins.  Her cookies are legendary, but where her real pastry talent lies is within the layers of her pie crust.

Never tough.  The right blend of flaky and tender.  The perfectly rolled, never over-worked edge adding a hint of salty, savory crisp to a sea of pie fillings: coconut custard, lemon meringue (my favorite!), lemon chiffon (a close second), pumpkin chiffon (family favorite), cooked strawberry, strawberry gelatin, banana cream, peach... where was I?

Right.  The crust.

When I first began cooking on my own, I called my grandma often.  She graciously read recipe after recipe to me over the phone and explained techniques.  I still have a handwritten cookbook from 1996, filled with her recipes scrawled with in my nineteen year old handwriting.

Thanks, Grandma.

This recipe will make enough for two pies if you're a really super efficient housewife from the fifties.  If you are likely to crack the edges and have trouble rolling out pastry, it'll make one plus scraps.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

2/3 C. Shortening*
1 tsp salt
6-7 TBSP ICE water**

*note: yes, shortening.  Grandma used Crisco, of course.  
I used Spectrum non-hydrogenated.  It's about $5 for a tub at Whole Foods.

**ICE water.  Ice a cup of it, set it aside while you work.  You'll add it bit by bit but it MUST be cold.

You can absolutely do this with the tines of a fork the way my Grandma does.  
(But I do it in my Cuisinart.)

In the bowl of your food processor mix the flour, salt, and add the shortening.  Close it up.  Pulse - I counted just for you - around 25 times.  You want that fat to get distributed through to every grain of flour, or at least as many as you can.  It should not really look like flour anymore once this happens - more like wet sand.  If you smoosh it together in the palm of your hand and squeeze, it will stick.

Now, stop.  Get that cup of ice water.  You don't need the ice - just the really, really cold water.

Using a tablespoon (actual tablespoon measuring spoon) begin adding water to the chute on the food processor.  I dump one tablespoon in, then as it drizzles down I pulse.  Continue until it comes together - mine took about 7 TBSPs of water.  It will begin looking like sugar cookie dough.  It should never ever be *wet* - just - combined.  

At this point, I take it out of the bowl and pat it together in a disk.  This helps get the air out and creates the general shape for a pie crust.  Now, let it rest.  Do you HAVE to do that?  No.  But I do think it helps things chill out a bit.  You can even pop it in a ziplock or wrap it in saran at this point, if you're not ready to bake the pie yet.  When you are ready to roll, dust the counter with flour (or use one of those awesome vintage rolling pin things like my grandma had)  WOW!  This is it!

Someone snatch that up!

Okay - so roll it out - you want it even, sometimes I roll in a few directions to get it nice and round.  Then I usually use a pizza cutter to trim off the edges.

Transfer to your pie plate and fill.  You're done!

1 comment:

  1. I'm working on this, but am hesistant to purchase yet one more flour blend. Have you tried other flour mixes? Can you rate your results? Also, I find that my best efforts so far (these were with Jules GF flour) are, while tasty and flaky, are somewhat leaden, heavy, and tough, reminiscent of Pillsbury crusts (which I hate - my wheat flour crusts were a work of wonder, and this gf business is so maddening!). Could you describe what this crust is like baked? I'm trying to shortcut what has already been a laborious process . . .