FeaturesAug/Sep 2010 Issue

Gluten-Free Summer Pies

Slice into the season’s sweet rewards

Photograph by Sarah Brooke Photography
Dairy and eggs impart a golden hue.
The crust above is free of gluten, dairy
and eggs.

I had the opportunity to work in a local pie shop where I learned some new tricks for creating a perfect pie. I wasn’t at the shop long before I saw that making a gluten-free pie is much easier than making its wheat-filled counterpart. You can work gluten-free dough and make mistakes and the crust will still turn out fine. The only issue is that gluten-free slices may crumble a bit when they’re cut and served. A minor inconvenience, I say, in light of such a delicious treat!

Now is the ideal time for enjoying pie. Fruit that’s in season in your area is always the best choice. It has a higher brix value (measure of sweetness), allowing you to reduce the total amount of sugar needed in your recipe. Taste the fruit you plan to use. If it’s very sweet and succulent, you can lower the amount of sugar in your recipe accordingly.

If you decide to make a fruit pie out of season, there’s good-quality frozen fruit available in your supermarket. Larger pieces, such as peach slices, should be thoroughly defrosted before going into a pie. Smaller fruit, like raspberries, require less thawing prior to baking.

After one hour in the oven, check your pie for doneness by sticking a knife into it. The fruit should be soft and tender but not mushy. If you need to bake the pie longer than an hour, cover it loosely with foil to keep the crust from over-browning.

When I worked at the shop, I became thoroughly immersed in all things pie. The same thing happened to everyone who was employed there. The focus on pies was so intense that the shop owners’ young son even asked for a slice in his sleep. “I want pie,” he said, dreaming. For those of us who must avoid gluten (dairy and eggs, too), these flavorful recipes are like a dream come true.


The crusts above are gluten free.
For coloring tips, see "Easy As Pie."

Apple Pie

MAKES ONE 9½-INCH PIE

This pie has a filling that's just the right combination of tart and sweet.

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into
    ¼-inch pieces
2-3 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend of choice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free
    alternative, melted
2 pie crusts, one partially baked

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place apples into a large mixing bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour mix, cinnamon and sugar, mixing until it's a uniform color. Sprinkle mixture over the apples and combine gently until apples are evenly coated.

4. Mound apples into partially baked bottom crust. Drizzle butter over the fruit.

5. Top filling with second pie crust and crimp edges to seal.

6. Brush top crust with egg wash. Or brush with high-protein milk of choice and sprinkle with sugar.

7. Bake pie in preheated oven for one hour or until fruit is tender and crust is golden brown. If pie needs to bake longer, cover it lightly with foil to prevent over-browning.

Makes 10 slices. Each slice contains 417 calories, 21g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 115mg cholesterol, 196mg sodium, 54g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 6g protein.

Peach Pie

MAKES ONE 9½-INCH PIE

Here’s a scrumptious way to enjoy ripe peaches.

¾ cup sugar
¼ cup gluten-free flour blend
6 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free
    alternative, melted
2 pie crusts, one partially baked

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and flour, mixing until a uniform color.

3. Place peaches into a large mixing bowl and drizzle almond extract over them. Sprinkle sugar mixture over peaches and mix gently until evenly coated.

4. Mound peaches into a partially baked bottom crust. Drizzle butter over fruit.

5. Top filling with second pie crust and crimp edges to seal.

6. Brush top crust with egg wash. Or brush with high-protein milk of choice and sprinkle with sugar.

7. Bake pie in preheated oven for one hour or until fruit is tender and crust is golden brown. If pie needs to bake longer, cover it lightly with foil to prevent over-browning.

Makes 10 slices. Each serving contains 433 calories, 21g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 115mg cholesterol, 196mg sodium, 57g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein.

Photograph by Sarah Brooke Photography

Gluten-Free Plum Tart

MAKES ONE 11-INCH TART

Thinly sliced plums are key to a beautiful plum tart. To add color, teff is used in place of millet flour in this crust.

½ Pie Crust recipe (replace millet flour with an equal
    amount of teff flour)
¾ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons gluten-free flour blend of choice
2 pounds red or Italian plums, skin on, pitted and
    sliced ¼-inch thick
½ tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Roll out dough for one pie crust and press it into an 11-inch tart pan. Partially bake crust according to pie crust instructions. Let cool.

2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and flour blend.

3. Place plums in a large bowl and sprinkle lemon juice over them. Add sugar mixture and toss plums until fruit is evenly coated. Let stand for 30 minutes until juicy. 

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

5. Arrange plums in a spiral pattern, one overlapping another, in the partially baked crust. Pour sugar mixture juices over the plums.

6. Place tart in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees, cover tart loosely with foil and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes until plums are tender.

7. Remove from oven and brush warm juices in tart over plums. Cool completely before serving.

Makes 10 slices. Each slice contains 248 calories, 9g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 55mg cholesterol, 98mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein.

Photograph by Sarah Brooke Photography

Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

MAKES ONE 9½-INCH PIE

Sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb complement one another. This recipe is always a summer favorite.

1½ cups sugar
¼ cup gluten-free flour blend of choice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (7 to 8 stalks cut into
    ½-inch pieces)
1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed, cored and
    sliced in half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free
    alternative, melted
2 pie crusts, one partially baked

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine sugar, flour blend and cinnamon in a small bowl.

3. Place prepared fruit in a large bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit. Then gently toss fruit with sugar mixture to evenly coat.

4. Mound fruit into partially baked bottom crust. Drizzle butter over fruit.

5. Top filling with pie crust and crimp edges to seal.

6. Brush top crust with egg wash. Or brush with high-protein milk of choice and sprinkle with sugar.

7. Bake pie in preheated oven for one hour or until fruit is tender and crust is golden brown. If pie needs to bake longer, cover it lightly with foil to prevent over-browning.

Makes 10 slices. Each slice contains 467 calories, 21g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 115mg cholesterol, 199mg sodium, 66g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 7g protein.

Pie Crusts

Either of the pie crust recipes below will work well for the fruit pies. If you prefer one without lard, use the Gluten-Free Pie Crust.

Allergy-Friendly Pie Crust

MAKES TWO 9½-INCH CRUSTS

Lard is an old-fashioned solution to egg-free, dairy-free pie crust. This natural fat can be a source of vitamin D. To impart a golden hue to the crust, see “Easy as Pie.”

1⅛ cups Gluten-Free Multi-Blend Flour Mix, more
    as needed
⅔ cup finely ground gluten-free rolled oats
¾ cup + 1½ tablespoons millet flour
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons sugar (omit for savory recipes, like quiche)
1 cup cold leaf lard or regular lard, cut into pieces
½ cup ice-cold water (more, as needed)

Wash for Top Crust

2-3 tablespoons high-protein milk of choice (soy, almond, hemp)
1 tablespoon sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine flour mix, oats, millet flour, xanthan gum, salt and sugar. Turn mixer off.

2. Drop lard by the tablespoonful onto dry ingredients. Turn mixer on low and combine ingredients. When lard has coated the flour and bits of lard are about the size of peas, slowly add the water in a stream, enough to moisten the dough (you might need a little more water). If dough starts to make a wet, whipping sound, add a few more tablespoons of flour a little at a time until you have a soft dough. (If mixing by hand, use a pastry blender to mix lard into dry ingredients; then gradually add water until a soft dough forms.)

3. Gather a bit more than half of the dough into a ball and shape it into a 6-inch disk for the top crust. Shape remainder into a 4-inch disk. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap both disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling out.

4. On a cool countertop, between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll the 4-inch disk into an 11-inch circle. While rolling, frequently flip the dough over and lift up plastic wrap to ensure dough isn’t sticking. Remove plastic wrap from one side. Pick up plastic wrap sheet with dough and place it, dough side down, into pie plate. Peel off plastic wrap.

5. Trim overhanging dough or tuck it under itself. Crimp the crust by pinching a V-shape every ½-inch around the edge.

6. To partially bake the crust, cover it with foil and heap dried beans or pie weights inside. Then place pie plate in the refrigerator while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Bake crust for 15 minutes or until edges turn golden. Allow crust to cool for a few minutes. Then remove foil and weights. If a crisp crust is desired, return crust to oven to bake uncovered for 3 more minutes. Allow crust to cool for 10 minutes before filling with prepared fruit.

7. For a doubled-crusted pie, partially bake the bottom crust for 10 minutes to prevent sogginess. Roll out top crust to at least a 12-inch circle and place it on top of mounded fruit filling. Fold under the overhang of dough to create a thick edge around the pie. Crimp edges to seal. Cut 7 slits into the top crust for venting.

8. For a lattice top, roll out the second disk and cut into ¾-inch wide strips. Place half the strips horizontally and the rest vertically across the pie, weaving them together for a lattice look.

9. Brush the top crust with egg wash. For more about top crust washes, see “Easy as Pie.”

10. Bake assembled pie in a 325-degree oven for one hour. Pie is done when a knife inserted meets with slight resistance but still easily penetrates the fruit. If pie bakes longer, cover loosely with foil to prevent over-browning.

TIP Leaf lard is a healthier choice than regular lard or a hydrogenated fat. It’s available at most local butcher shops or find it online at dietrichsmeats.com.


Gluten-Free Pie Crust

MAKES TWO 9½-INCH CRUSTS

This recipe, inspired by chef Rebecca Reilly, contains millet flour, a highly nutritious flour that complements oat flour and the multi-blend mix. This flakey crust is indistinguishable from a wheat-based crust.

1⅛ cups Gluten-Free Multi-Blend Flour Mix,
    more as needed
⅔ cup finely ground gluten-free rolled oats
¾ cup + 1½ tablespoons millet flour
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons sugar (omit for savory recipes, like quiche)
13½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into
    ½ tablespoon pieces
1 jumbo egg + one large egg, lightly beaten
2¼ tablespoons cider vinegar or gluten-free sour cream
Egg Wash for Top Crust
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients. Turn mixer off.

2. Add cold butter in ½ tablespoon increments and blend on low speed. When butter is incorporated and butter pieces are the size of peas, gradually add eggs and cider vinegar until a soft dough forms. Stop the mixer and feel the dough. If it’s too sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until you have a soft dough.

3. Follow instructions for rolling out the dough and baking the crust that can be found above in  Allergy-Friendly Pie Crust, starting with instruction #3.


No Dairy, No Eggs!

Multi-Blend Flour Mix

MAKES 4¼ CUPS
This all-purpose blend can be tripled.

2¼ cups brown rice flour
¼ cup potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour
¾ cup sweet rice flour
⅓ cup cornstarch or sweet rice flour or potato starch

Combine ingredients thoroughly. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Karen Robertson, author of Cooking Gluten-Free!, lives in Seattle.

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