Oh My, Pie (Crust)

For a long time in my kitchen attempting gluten-free pie dough was easily one way to throw away expensive ingredients.  I made my share of GF pie wrecks after decades of being a gluten pie maven. It was mighty discouraging.

Until.

Think ratios.  Ruhlman ratios, to be specific.  Buy the app or the book, already.  It is worth every penny whether you bake gluten-free or not.  And for fantastic gluten-free pie dough it is just that easy. No need for fancy gimmicks, gums, or other oddities.

Pie dough ratio is  3-2-1 easy.  Three parts flour to two parts fat to one part liquid.

I use 300 grams of GF flour made up from superfine brown rice flour, superfine white rice flour and arrowroot.  I use 200 grams of fat split somewhat evenly between icy cold shortening and unsalted butter.  I use 100 grams of icy cold water.  Add a pinch of kosher salt, a touch of sugar if it is a sweet pie and that’s it.

My food processor is my friend in this case.  I toss in the flour, salt, sugar and pulse to mix it all up.  I sprinkle the top with the shortening and butter cut into pieces.  Pulse until it looks like coarse stuff.  I put the ice water into a cup with a spout and while the food processor is running I pour it in through the tube which lets it dribble in.

Once it comes together in a mushy ball, stop.  Don’t even bother to look at it.  Just dump it out onto a large piece of plastic wrap.  Remove the blade carefully – scrape the rest into the pile.  Pull the wrap up around it, smash it somewhat flat into a disk and pop into the refrigerator for at least two hours and overnight is better.  You can freeze it at this point in a zip lock.

The dough will seem impossibly gooey, and it is, but leave it alone.  When you get ready to use it, break off pieces and keep the rest in cold storage.  Let it set for a few minutes while you prepare to roll it.  Using plastic wrap (parchment tends to stick) place a large piece on the counter top or rolling surface.  Sprinkle tons of arrowroot starch on the surface.  Take your dough piece and shape it into a ball and place on the starch covered plastic.  Flip it over or sprinkle it with more starch.

Arrowroot (or other) starch is your friend.

Prepare to be messy – you will be covered in starch dust.  Using another piece of plastic wrap placed on top of the dough ball and as big as the one on already on the counter top  – use your rolling-pin to make some indents in the dough.  Press the dough down with the rolling-pin so that it looks like a row of u-shaped divots.  Now do it the opposite way so it is a checkerboard of divots.  That helps the dough not split apart when you begin to roll.

Roll from the middle of the circle out.  Use a light touch. If you just roll back and forth it tends to rip the dough and make it uneven and tough (yes, GF dough can get tough).  Make sure it is loaded with starch as you go along.  I lift the top piece of plastic often and move the dough to make sure it is still free and add starch when necessary.

Keep rolling gently until the circle is bigger than your pie pan.  If you’ve used plenty of starch which has now made the dough less sticky, it should be moveable.  It might break but so what.  You can glue the pieces together easily.  One way to get it into the pan is to dust the top of the dough circle with starch again and using your rolling-pin, lift one edge onto the pin and keep going slowly so that the whole piece of dough is now rolled up like a coil around the rolling-pin.  Starting on one end of the pie pan (overhanging it slightly) unroll the dough slowly and gently over the pan.  Gently take the edges and let the dough slide into the pan – try not to stretch it because that will lead to both shrinking and cracking if you are blind baking it.  Press the edges and trim.

You can repeat that whole thing for a pie top, but make the piece slightly larger so that it fits over the heaping pile of filling in the pie.  Crimp the edges together with a fork, trim, cut some slits for vent holes and bake.

I bake all my pies at 350 no matter what the pie recipe says.  It is a good temperature to make the crust golden, but not burned and it eventually cooks the filling.  It will take longer to bake, but I’ve never had a bad result.  I have, however, ruined the crust baking at a higher temperature for a long period of time.  If you really want to bake a pie at 400 or 425, I’d do it for a short time and then turn the oven down to 350 to finish.

It also helps to brush the top crust with an egg wash (one beaten egg with a bit of water or cream) to give it a shiny golden glow.  For a pie that needs to bake for a long time, like a fruit filled pie – I wait until the last 45 minutes to brush the top.

Got a crust in pieces?  Use pie glue.  If the dough is not yet baked, pinch the edges together until it is one nice piece again.  If the dough seems to need something more, use scraps of dough (always handy to keep around until your pie is completely finished) and patch and pinch.  A touch of water on your finger helps glue it together.

Blind pie baking cracked the shell?  Again, save those dough scraps.  Using little worms of dough, place them on the cracks and with a slightly wet finger, paint the dough into place over the crack.  Almost like using spackle on a wall crack.  Bake a few minutes more – but only a few minutes.

Dough shrinking after blind baking? Yeah.  I know.  I’ve no idea.  Anyone who does have an idea about that, speak up in the comments and help us out!

Foil or parchment stuck after blind baking?  Sometimes it happens and other times not.  Now I always butter the parchment or foil before I press it on (butter side down).  Never sticks when I do that, but be careful pulling it out.

Pie weights? Nah.  I’d lose them or forget I have them.  I buy cheap big fat dried beans and spill them over the foil or parchment (buttered!) and reuse them until they begin to lose their usefulness (as in they stink).

Dough seems undercooked in fruit pies or double crust pies?  Happens.  Ceramic pie plates do that if you place them on a baking sheet – or at least it does for me.  I tried metal pie pans and that helps, but the best way is to not place the pie pan on a baking sheet directly.  Place the baking sheet on the rack below to catch the drips and let the pie pan sit directly on the oven rack so the heat can get to the bottom without protection, so to speak.  If I am making a single crust pie with fruit (like a crumb topped pie) I prebake the crust for about 15 minutes and that always helps.

Crust won’t roll?  Just pat it into the pan and go with the crumb top or open top pie.  I’ve even made lattice tops that will work when a bigger piece wont’ stay together.  You can even do dough shapes like cut-out cookies and place those in a pattern on top and it will serve nicely as a top crust.


Oh My, Pie Crust, Gluten-Free
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Author:
Chill baby, chill. You want it all to be cold cold cold. Doughs love cold. This makes enough for a two pie crust (9-10 inch).
Ingredients
  • 300 grams GF flour - superfine brown rice, superfine white rice, arrowroot starch
  • 200 grams total of unsalted butter and shortening, ice-cold
  • 100 grams ice water
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add cubed pieces of butter and shortening and pulse until it looks like coarse crumbs - about 10 good pulses will do it. While processor is running, pour ice water into feeding tube so it drips in. When dough merges into a smooshy ball turn it off. Dump dough on plastic wrap removing blade carefully and scraping all the dough into the ball. Wrap and refrigerate at least two hours and overnight is better.
  2. On a large piece of plastic wrap covered in starch place one half of the dough. Cover with more starch and more plastic wrap. Press down with rolling-pin in one direction and then another. Roll from center out into a circle making sure dough is not sticking. Add more starch if necessary. Place dough in pie pan.
  3. Proceed with the pie recipe.
Notes
You can start with a high temperature for a filled pie, but reduce baking temperature to 350 to finish. Brush dough with egg wash last 45 minutes. For variations to enhance the pie, add some crushed herbs (savory pies) to the crust during the roll-out or in the case of some fruit pies, add some lemon zest to the crust during the shortening and butter stage in the food processor. As long as you use a 3-2-1 ratio, your imagination is the limit for what you can add to the crust. Happy pie making.

 

 

Comments

  1. This sounds divine! Thank you for the easy-to-follow instructions. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  2. Melissa says:

    So excited to try this. I haven’t made my favorite macaroni spinach feta pie since I got diagnosed, but this is the kick I needed to do it again. Thanks!

  3. Practice makes perfect when making pie crust…I’m still in the practicing phase. Maybe your recipe will get me to perfect!

  4. please can this recipe be converted to cups and or ounces?
    thanks
    JSB

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      This is where the Ruhlman app comes in handy. It converts to about 12 oz flour to 8 oz fat to 4 oz liquid. Hope that helps.

  5. I’d love to try this recipe! What ratio of brown rice flour to white rice flour to arrowroot starch do you use within the 300 grams?
    Thanks!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Glad you asked! I actually tried it with different variations – and it always works if the starch is in the region of 30%. I typically use more brown than white. So- try about 90 g starch and 120 g brown and 90 g white. Around there. It should be very sticky at first and When using more starch for rolling, get less so. Hope that helps!

  6. I love your blog. It’s nice to read something well written with clear recipes! I am glad that you understand that gluten free peeps need lotsa choc too.. I’m definitely going to try this pastry recipe =)

  7. your combination of flours for GF flour is the simplest I’ve seen on the net so far. Most of them call for xanathan or guar gum, but I don’t have that/want to use that. What difference will that make in the resulting baked goods? Please help!

    You have a great blog by the way, and this is a wonderful entry because it simplifies everythign and makes me less scared of making a gluten-free pie, I really hope it’s really that simple!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Thank you, Shuhan. And yep. It is that simple. The gums are typically used to add in a little bit of stretch and give to GF flours to make them more like regular AP flour. I think there are very very few things you actually need the gums for in GF baking. About the only thing that we’ve made so far that doesn’t work without a gum is a certain type of very light fluffy bread. But even whole grain breads made with a combination of GF flours come out quite well without gums. Many people can’t taste the gums in baked goods, but I am one of those who can. I don’t like the flavor it imparts and it is not kind to my, um, digestion (polite way of saying it really doesn’t like me). I am better with guar gum than xanthan gum, but I try to use neither. I like the cleaner flavors of the GF flours alone. You’ll notice in some of my recipes I add an egg white or an additional egg – that helps bind the baked good without gums and makes it not fall apart. GF baked goods generally need a tiny bit more liquid than regular AP flour made goodies. And you have to be aware of what properties the GF flours have – like coconut flour, for example. It has great flavor, but it sucks up liquid like a sponge so you need less of it and/or more liquid when you use it. That’s why I specify which flours I’ve used in each recipe because it matches the liquids/fats I use to make the product just right. Once you start using the flours you’ll get to know them.

      The pie crust will absolutely work as long as you follow the 3-2-1 ratio almost exactly – it does have a little of room for error. Make sure the butter/shortening is really chilled and the water is ice water (but dump the ice cubes). And refrigerate the crust before baking and it will be great. It took me a couple of tries to nail it down when I first started, so if the first couple are not perfect – don’t worry. Just keep making it and it will work. And if you have a food processor, let it do all the work. But one hint about that: stop the machine the second it starts to turn into a dough ball. Less handling is better. Give it a try and let me know how it came out and if I can help.

      • thanks for the super long reply, I feel so much more confident about doing this now. you’re awesome. i’m going to try this and let you know!

      • I tried it and it turned out quite ok! Not as flaky as normal white flour but still really good! Thanks for the help (:

        http://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/09/shortcrust-pie-pastry-as-easy-as-1-2-3.html

      • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

        excellent!

      • Actually, after making this again for the third time, I’m starting to be a bit more discerning. I find the buttery flavour and flakiness of it was brilliant, but at the end, there was a bit of a chewy/stickiness to it if you get what I mean, like when you bite into candy and at the end it sticks to your teeth?

        I made up 300g of gf flour this way: 90g tapioca starch, 90g sweet rice flour (aka glutinous/sticky rice flour), and 120g superfine white rice flour.
        As you can see, I used white rice flour+glutinous rice flour instead of brown rice flour+white rice flour, as I can’t find brown rice flour.

        Is that chewy bite due to the glutinous rice flour, or is it the tapioca starch? I’m also wondering whether glutinous rice flour counts as a starch or a grain, because it’s properties are rather like that of a binding agent..does this mean that I should have reduced/replaced the tapioca starch/just gone with white rice flour and tapioca starch?

        thanks again for all your wonderful advice, i’ve been trying out more things from your blog lately too (: have a great new year’s day! looking forward to more in 2012! x

      • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

        Couple of suggestions. First, I think the sweet white rice might be causing the chewy, guminess. It is a soft flour and often results in a chewy texture. It is great in breads, but I don’t use it much in baking cookies, pies or cakes. If you can’t get a hold of any brown rice flour, I’d increase the regular white rice flour and the starch, but just slightly. Tapioca starch can also end up making the texture slightly chewy, but you’d have to use a lot to make that happen. You can always mix two different starches to cut back on the tapioca, but keep the same amount of total starch in the recipe. Although most people say that with GF flours, you cannot over mix and toughen the crust, I actually believe the opposite. In everything I bake – over mixing leads to a pretty dense and chewy end result. Less is more in the case of crusts, biscuits and cake batter. Hope that helps! And Happy New Year, Shuhan!

      • thanks for the quick reply! going to try out your suggestions and I’ll let you know how it goes again! x

  8. I am the family pie maker, my mom does wedding cakes, my aunts do cookies and I was dubbed pie maker. While I do not have celiac, my mom, aunt and uncle all do. I have been searching around to find an easy pie crust recipe and this looks & sounds like it might be a winner. We are having a family party in a few weeks and I usually bring the pie, so I will be trying this out along with some gluten pies! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  9. jensunnyside says:

    Hello
    I’ve just blind baked this pie crust to test for Thanksgiving. The flavor and flakiness were good, but I had some holes that developed where the bottom meets the wall of the pie. (Does that make sense?) I’m not a big pie maker in general, so I’m not sure if this was due to poor technique on my part, or the lack of stretch in the dough. The dough was evenly rolled, and I tried not to stretch it as I laid it in the pie tin, but maybe I did??? Any thoughts?

    Also, I had a very different experience with mixing my dough. First, I used Dove Farm gluten free/wheat free flour. I had to add about 50% more water to get the dough crumbly the way I’d expect a regular flour pie dough to be. I then put the dough in a ziplock bag and kneading the dough until it came together and placed it in the fridge overnight. I rolled it out between two sheets of plastic wrap with no gluten free flour and had no problem with sticking, probably because my dough wasn’t wet like you described your dough. All-in-all, I’d say that this pie dough behaved not too dissimilar from my regular pie dough, with the exception of the holes that formed during baking as mentioned above.

    Thanks for your very helpful recipe. I’ve never baked gluten free, and I found the simplicity of your recipe refreshing.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      You bring up some really good points! I talked with the resident Geek (Cap’n Awesome) about why a crust would do that cracking thing because it happens to me, too. I typically use the patch method to remedy that when I blind bake – if it comes out with cracks I use some saved raw dough that I pinch and roll into tiny logs to pop into the cracks with a little water – like repairing a wall with spackling paste – then I bake for a few minutes more. That method works really well in spots where the filling will hide it, like the bottom of the crust.

      But the Geek thinks it might be caused by structural weakness when the pie is placed into the pan. I guess he is saying that where it bends, it becomes a bit thinner and thus weaker. He suggested that just like building a bridge that one way to remedy it is to know that it will be structurally weak at those points and to strengthen it before baking by making that area slightly thicker. I would do that by pushing the crust down a bit in the pan once you’ve placed it in there – and pushing some extra dough into the curve of the bottom edge to make it thicker. When I think about it as I am writing this – I realize that I also try to build up the outer top edge to be slightly thicker and higher than I need because I expect it to shrink a bit as it bakes – as the moisture evaporates from the crust.

      I looked up Dove Flour and it does say it might need extra liquid, so no surprise you needed more – which then would make more liquid evaporate and thus a little more shrinkage.

      It sounds like it pretty much worked aside from the cracking. If I were in your kitchen (so to speak) I’d probably do 2 things: 1) make that bottom edge where the sides meet the bottom, and the top edge slightly thicker and I’d make sure to save some raw dough to use as patches as a back-up plan.

      Thanks for the kind words. And I hope my suggestions will be useful. Let me know if that helps or if you have any more questions and happy holidays!

  10. I had this pie crust for Thanksgiving, and oh my I’m dumping my old pie crust recipe for this one. Absolutely no comparison. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I’m trying it already. Halfway done, will bake it tomorrow and see. It’s a really brittle crust!! but I had fun, it is my first crust and it smells fantastic. About the pie weights: A friend uses pennies. She claims heat distribution is even with them. Gonna try it and let you know. Thanks for the blog!!!

  12. I am so excited to find this, have missed pies/tarts/quiche so much since having to go wheat free. Can’t wait to give it a go!

  13. Hi! I tried making this dough today but i had to sub the butter with coconut oil because i only had 100gms of shortening (i thought i could use all shortening) anyway as i pulsed the dry with the fats it started to make a nice ball from what i could see through the processor but being the novice that i am i trickled the full amount of water and ended up with a batter like dough :(. I cooled it up and it became hard but once a bit warmer did not hold together at all :(. Any suggestions? If i can’t fix this any suggestions with what i can try and do with the results? I’d hate to have to throw it all away! Thanks in advance!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Lili. You can use all shortening but it wouldn’t have the same flavor without the butter, but it does work as a DF crust. Not sure about coconut oil – I’ve never tried it. And yes, as you said, as soon as you see it come together stop adding water. I don’t think it would make a decent pie dough at this point because it will be too mushy, but you could use it as the base for a bar cookie of some sort. Sort of like a more batter-like shortbread. Maybe pecan bars, or 7-layer bars or rocky road. That’s what I’d try to do. Good luck!

  14. Lisa
    I want to prepare this for this weekend to make hand pies, is using all butter ok?

  15. Thanks for prompt response lisa!

  16. I do not want to use shortening because of food sensitiveness for my niece
    In that case can I use this recipe of yours http://glutenfreecanteen.com/2011/11/19/turkey-hand-pies-gluten-free/ with the above flour(if so what is the gram count) fix I do not have C4C. Thanks again!

  17. You are awesome. I have mild sensitivity to gluten and my best friend is quite sensitive to gluten and gums (borderline coeliac). I love to bake, so I have been trying to bake things gluten-free… I love how you do not use gums. I have been fighting the temptation to use xanthan gum!!

    A quick question… I am also trying to make things vegan as well for my best friend as well as other friends who are vegan and gluten-sensitive. If I used vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening (I live in Korea and shortening is hard to come by), would things go crazy? I would just stick with butter or cream cheese (like you did with your Turkey Hand Pie recipe) for my pie but for my vegan super-healthy gluten-free friends, I need to go no butter and no crisco/shortening and no margarine. Would it work?

    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes and tips!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Thanks, Angela – I might use coconut oil (solid) if you can find it. Or you could use earth balance or something similar. I haven’t tried it so you’ll have to experiment but if you go with coconut oil I might use less, perhaps about 25% less and start from there.

Trackbacks

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