Sunday, October 12, 2008

Easy Gluten Free Pie Crust

If I could give you the best recipes on to try from Ginger Lemon Girl... I would say try those incredible chocolate chip cookies, my Everyday Carrot Cake, my sandwich bread, my cream cheese meltaways, and the lovely pie crust we're featuring here today!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this pie crust. It's EASY. Really, really easy, and it's so simple. It rolls out beautifully, even compared to that other crust I really love (yet actually made me so mad two weeks ago that I threw my rolling pin across the kitchen in a moment of sheer "pie-crust-roll-out" anger!)

This crust is also flaky and delicious. Keep in mind that it is also not one bit healthy. It uses an entire stick of butter for ONE CRUST. It's also an "all-starch" crust, save for the redeeming bit of sorghum flour... but for goodness sakes, is a pie crust really supposed to be healthy? Of course not! IT'S PIE crust!

This recipe is actually a revamp of my Cream Cheese Meltaways cookies. Last Christmas when I made these cookies I realized that they completely did not spread when I baked them. So I decided to roll them out and make sugar cookies with them as well. The dough made PERFECT sugar cookies and it rolled out like a charm. The wheels started turning way back then about using the dough as a pie crust. I exchanged most of the sugar in the recipe for a bit more flour and said a prayer! It worked. It made a PERFECT crust. A gluten free crust that was easy to handle. A gluten free crust that was forgiving. It's the best pie crust I've ever made.

Don't shy away from the long directions! They are NOT hard, simply thorough! I will add pictures the next time I make the crust, so you can see how delightfully easy it is!

Easy Gluten Free Pie Crust

4 ounces cream cheese **
4 ounces (1/2 cup, or 1 stick) butter**
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


*30 minutes before making pie crust, remove butter and cream cheese from fridge and set on counter to soften.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix together softened cream cheese and butter. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Add dry mixture slowly to cream cheese mixture. If you use a stand mixer this will be easy, and you can slowly combine the ingredients on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until dough forms a stiff ball. If mixing by hand, this may take 5-8 minutes to combine well enough to form into a stiff ball.

You can chill dough if you like, but you can also use this dough immediately. When ready to use dough, place two sheets of a good quality plastic wrap on your counter or table. Place the sheets of plastic wrap side by side, slightly overlapping, to give you enough space to roll out a 9"or 10" crust. Sprinkle white rice flour on the plastic wrap and place the dough in the center.

Sprinkle additional white rice flour on top of the ball of dough. Then, place a new sheet of plastic wrap on top of the ball of dough (so it won't stick to the roller) and start to roll out your pie crust starting from the center. Roll out the crust to 1/4" thickness, or however thick you desire. I actually had enough dough to make a large 10" pie crust along with a smaller 8" pie crust. So you could probably make 2 (9") crusts with this dough if you desired.

Gently place crust in pie or tart shell and bake as directed in your recipe of choice.

*** Please be aware that because the dough does not contain gluten it may STILL tear while you are transferring it to the pie tin. That is OKAY!! This dough is very forgiving and you can simply press the dough back together in the pie tin and even "patch" the dough if necessary with leftover crust! It will "mesh" together beautifully and is very, very forgiving!! ***

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Additional Gluten Free Pie Crust Hints and Tips:

To prebake shell for fruit pies or savory pies and tarts: Simply press crust into your pie tin or tart shell and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Add fillings and follow your recipe as directed.

** Casein Free Pie Crust Options: While I have not tried, this, I believe you could successfully use Tofutti in place of the cream cheese and a casein free shortening such as Crisco or possibly Spectrum in place of the butter with successful results. If you try this, please let me know how it works for you!

Sweet and Savory Crust Flavor Options: For sweet pie crusts or for fruit pies, I would add an additional tablespoon or two of sugar to the crust. You could even add a splash of vanilla or cinnamon. For a more savory crust for meat pies and tarts, add italian seasonings, fresh dill, or garlic... there are SO many things you can do with this crust!

Make your own pie crust mix: Simply mix together all dry ingredients together and place in a ziplock bag or tightly sealed container of your choice so that you can quickly put together a gluten free pie crust in minutes. I am going to make 6-8 bags of this pie crust mix for the upcoming holidays!

Corn-free option: If you cannot use cornstarch, arrowroot flour or sweet rice flour can be used in place of the cornstarch.

Using Quality Plastic Wrap to roll out dough: I have learned that cheap plastic wrap will not work properly when you are trying to roll out a pie crust. Trust me... you'll end up throwing your rolling pin across the kitchen and shouting things that are never normally uttered from your mouth. I recommend using a product such as Saran Wrap, or something similar, which will perfectly stick to your counters and the dough without being TOO sticky or not sticky enough (either of which can make the dough VERY hard to work with!!)

Stay tuned for the recipe for that delicious Sweet Tomato and Feta Tart you see pictured above!

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