Adventures in G-Free Baking

by marilynk

I have a dear friend who has Celiac Disease, which means she went to a bunch of pot-lucks in August and September where beautiful fruit pies were on offer, but she couldn’t partake. I usually bake gifts for people’s birthday’s so I asked Sarah what kind of pie she would like and she requested apple. I have never explored gluten-free baking before, so I did a lot of internet searching. There were a number of recipes that called for mixtures of flours that I don’t usually keep on hand and some included ingredients, like xanthan gum, that I would have to track down.

I wasn’t ready to invest in a bunch of flours and different ingredients when I wasn’t confident of the results, so I went with this recipe that calls for only 3 ingredients. Rice flour is readily available at Superstore here in Edmonton, so I imagine it would be easy to find no matter where you live. I did change up the recipe a little – switching out the shortening for butter (if it makes regular pie crust taste better, I imagine it would do the same for g-free crust) and I used much more water than called for. I don’t have a final measurement for the water, but I added it by tablespoonfuls until the mixture came together.

One nice thing about g-free baking is you don’t need to worry about over-working the dough. There’s no gluten in the mix to make things tough! I have to say, though, I was really surprised at how this pastry came together. This is not a dough to be rolled out and fitted into the pie plate. The consistency is more like play-dough than any kind of pastry I’ve worked with before. So be prepared!

September 2011 Pie #2: Gluten-Free Apple Pie

Filling:
  • 3 1/2 lbs tart apples (I used local apples I picked as part of Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Peel and core the apples and chop into 1/8th pieces. Toss the apples with the rest of the ingredients until well coated. Set aside while you make the crust.

Crust:

  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 3 cups rice flour
  • 8 Tbs cold water (use this as a starting place)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse meal. Add the water a tablespoon at a time and mix with your fingers until the dough starts to come together. Once you have a large ball of dough, knead the dough a few times, picking up all the bits that are left in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place one half in the pie plate (set the rest aside to use for the top crust). Use your fingers to push the dough into the plate to make the bottom and side crusts.

Heap the filling into the bottom crust. Roll out the second ball of dough and cut into strips. Use these strips to make a lattice top crust. I found it was easiest to use a spatula to help pick up and place the strips. Once you have your lattice, take any remaining dough and roll it into a long snake. Place the snake around the edge of the pie plate (covering the ends of the lattice strips) and press down into the side crust, fluting the edge with your fingers. That last part sounds weird, but it was the only way I could get a nice fluted edge on the pie. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar. Bake for 15 min at 400°, then turn the temperature down to 375°F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown (it will be more golden than brown – the rice flour doesn’t brown the same way) and the fruit is bubbling.

The pie turned out well and Sarah and her mom were happy to have a seasonal treat to enjoy.

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