How to Make Gluten-Free Pie Crust

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  • Start to Finish: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 2 crusts
  • Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

Many folks who have turned to gluten-free foods to combat allergies and digestive issues find themselves missing out on some of their favorite desserts. Often the stuff on the market shelf tastes like sweetened cardboard and the idea of making a homemade gluten-free pie crust can sound daunting, especially for the novice baker. Rather than making your own gluten-free flour mixture, you can now buy many varieties. This simple recipe adapted from Epicurious lets you create a memorable pie for a holiday celebration or just a satisfying treat for you and yours.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum powder
  • 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water 
  • 2 tablespoons cold orange juice

Directions

Making the Dough

In a large chilled bowl, sift the flour, sugar, salt and xanthan gum and whisk the ingredients a bit to ensure that everything is thoroughly blended.

Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the size of baby peas.

Combine the orange juice and the ice water. Working quickly, add the liquid to the flour by tablespoons, mixing each tablespoon in with a fork. Continue just until you can gather the dough into a ball. If the dough is dry -- meaning there is still flour left in the bottom of the bowl -- add a little more ice water.

Divide the dough into two equal balls, then give them each a press with the back side of a dinner plate until they look like little flying saucers. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes. If you want to save the dough for later, seal it up in a zipper bag and freeze it.

Warning

  • Xanthan gum helps replace the gluten in wheat flour and holds the dough together in a more traditional way. However, it is derived from corn, so those who are allergic to corn should omit it; you'll just have to handle the dough a little more delicately to keep it from crumbling.

Rolling It Out

Gluten-free dough is a little more sensitive than traditional pie dough. Roll the bottom disk out between two pieces of parchment paper and transfer it to the pie plate by removing the top layer of paper, placing the open side of the plate over the dough and carefully turning the plate over so that the dough drops inside. Press the dough against the side, sealing up any cracks with water-moistened fingers.

For a double-crusted pie, you might find it easier to make a lattice crust or to roll out the dough and then cut it into circles or shapes with a cookie cutter. Arrange the pieces in a pattern, covering the top.

Tip

  • Cold is key in making the perfect pie crust. For a shortcut, freeze the sticks of butter and then grate them into the flour mixture.

Baking

Gluten-free dough, especially when made with butter, tends to burn at the edges, so use a pie crust shield or create your own by crimping strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the crust.

Variations and Substitutions

Cornstarch -- also known as corn flour in Europe -- makes a pretty good flour substitute without any other grains. It works best in single-crust pies, as it's light texture makes a bit too crumbly for a full top crust.

Use the basic recipe to make two single-crust custard pies. Prick the bottom of the empty shell and fill it with pie weights before baking. This technique is suitable for fruit pies made with gelatin.

For a quiche, omit the sugar and make a rustic crust with buckwheat flour.

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