Making a Great Gluten-free Pie Crust

Requires Two Things: The Right Tool, and the Right Technique

After four years of developing flour mixes that excel in producing stellar quality gluten-free baked goods if I have learned anything, it is how much more I have to learn.

Now one of the major challenges that I have to overcome is fear. Two months ago I was afraid of even thinking about trying to make a gluten-free Pâte à Choux, which is simply the foundation for baked pastries like Eclairs and Cream Puffs. I finally decided to give it a try, and did a little internet research, found a great regular flour web site that had a recipe for Pâte à Choux, converted it to gluten-free and lo and behold ... WHAM! First try success. Just a beautiful pastry, easy to fill and froze well, refrigerated well and was an all around very pleasant surprise.

Now the last couple Novembers we've made pie crusts and filled them with pumpkin for Thanksgiving, and it's gone over well for our customers, but our crust hasn't quite been that ultra flaky goodness that just makes pie eating almost perfect, and I like perfect a lot better than okay, or even good. So every once in a while I spend a couple hours at home reading on pie crust making. After a recent venture into pie crust research I realized that I already have the perfect tool tool to make that perfect pie crust, what I was missing was the technique. See, I was researching under the premise that I needed some type of device, a dough press, a rolling pin made of titanium, platinum or gold. And that had blinded me to seeing that it was not a tool or device, but a method that was needed.

So I left Mehl's Flour Company's gluten-free bakery the other day and ran over to my mom's house, and she had a bunch of peaches that were getting to the point of either using them or thinking about tossing them. So I made the snap decision that I'd save the peaches from being wasted by making a pie at work (where I have all the right tools). Well as I headed home I kept thinking that the real test is being able to make a pie at home without all the fancy mixers, measuring scales, and ovens. So I decided to focus on technique and instead of looking for a tool to make the crust, to place my trust in the perfect tool I already have, which is Mehl's Flour Company's Gluten-free Flour.

I like to get things organized when I bake, so I started grabbing everything I would need, and realized I had no dry measuring cups, no hand mixer (where it crawled away to is going to puzzle me for a good while -- I am sure it doesn't have legs), and no rolling pin.

So what I ended with was Mehls' Flour Company Gluten-free Flour, a bowl big enough for the job, a big spoon, a sturdy fork, a little corn starch and a 34" metal softball bat.

Now odd as that may seem, I was actually feeling pretty good. I've probably made a couple hundred pie crusts by hand, and I now knew what I needed to do from a technique standpoint, and after developing over a hundred recipes for baked goods in every category I knew the mix was the right tool ... so what was there to worry about. I finally was going to make pie crust with both the right tool and the right technique.

So I used a liquid measuring cup to get approximately two cups of flour into the mixing bowl, I used the big spoon to put the estimated right amount of butter/margarine blend into a cup and threw that in the freezer for fifteen minutes, and put about 1/3 cup of water in another cup and also put that into the freezer. See, that's the technique part. The Holy Grail of pie making is really just using really cold butter, margarine or shortening and water.

After the butter blend and the water had chilled long enough I dumped the butter blend into the flour and used my trusty sturdy fork to cut the butter blend into the flour. Once I had it nicely mixed into a bunch of doughy chunks, I dumped in the ice cold water and mixed that in, and what I had was a nice dough ball with plenty of small chunks of butter blend dispersed throughout. So I separated the dough into two parts, about 2/3 to 1/3 in proportion. Then I spread a bunch of corn starch on my cutting board, rolled the larger dough ball around on the starch until it was fulling covered, spread a little more corn starch onto the board and proceeded to roll out the crust with the softball bat (which I had fully washed and sanitized in case you're one of the few who got to taste this creation). Once it was rolled out and about the right thickness, I used a couple long thick knives to lift it up and dropped the crust into the pie pan.

Next I poured the peach filling I had whipped up into the crust. Then I took the remaining dough and rolled it in flour, and rolled it into a long rectangular shape, then I used a knife to cut it into long strips and placed the strips over the top of the pie and voila, a nice looking latticed peach pie!

I baked it for fifty minutes, and lo and behold, using only a fork, a simple bowl, a softball bat, Mehl's Flour Company Gluten-free Flour, a butter margarine blend, and a little tap water I was able to make a beautiful and tasty gluten-free peach pie with a tender flaky crust!