Pumpkin pie makes me gag. Sorry. French apple pie… with its soft, crumbly top… makes me a little sad. Why? Because to me, apple pie just isn’t apple pie without a nice top crust and a dollop of vanilla ice cream (vegan or cow… your pick). I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free, dairy-free (gf/df) pie crusts in anticipation of serving something to my family that I could also enjoy.
My first attempt at a gf/df double-crust pie crust was for a 9″ vegetable pot pie. The filling was delicious, but the crust was a bit difficult to work with and its taste and texture were disappointing. That’s when I started Googling the heck out of gf/df pie crusts. I finally hit on a flour blend that sounded promising, and learned that it was probably the bean flour in my gf all-purpose flour that was causing an unpleasant aftertaste. Even in this savory dish, I did not like the garbanzo effect. There were aesthetic issues as well. The crust didn’t brown much, and though I measured carefully (by volume, not weight), I ran a little short on dough and wasn’t able to make a pretty edge.
Research taught me that I was likely to get better results with a flour blend that included mostly rice flours, including “Mochiko” or “sweet white rice flour”, and tapioca flour. I wasn’t able to find any Mochiko in time for Thanksgiving, but I will definitely incorporate some in my next pie crust. I still ended up with a pie crust that rolled out very easily and tasted great!
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
Here’s the blend I used, with the exception of my substitution of potato starch for Mochiko, from a most helpful blog called The Art of Gluten-Free Baking:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
(mix together and store in a cool, dark place, or in fridge for long-term storage). 1 cup of this mix equals 140g. Use this mix cup-for-cup or gram-for-gram in all of your recipes:
1 1/4 cup (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 cup (205 g) white rice flour
1 cup (120 g) tapioca flour
1 cup (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as “glutinous” rice flour or under the brand name, Mochiko.)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
I also used Jeanne’s pie crust recipe, but substituted one Earth Balance Shortening Stick and one Earth Balance Buttery Stick in place of butter to make it dairy-free. I liked that it included apple cider vinegar and I think it adds a really nice flavor and possibly even scent. Oh, and I also upped the flour to 2 1/2 cups because I was nervous about not having enough dough. Another takeaway from my research is that it sometimes helps to weigh the flour instead of relying on volume.
Speaking of gf flour and volume, be sure to read “how to make a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix” by Shauna James Ahern on her blog, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Don’t skip the video! Jeanne and Shauna helped me to create a crust that everyone loved. My pie was enjoyed by my gluten-eating family, including the ones who don’t have very nice things to say about vegan and gluten-free foods. I was hoping my pie would be merely edible. Not only was it edible… it was delicious!
2 1/3 cups (350g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 oz; 230 g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter or non-dairy butter replacement, cold and cut into pieces.
1 tablespoon vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1-7 tablespoons cold water (I think I used around 4)
extra tapioca flour for rolling out (I found I did not need to do this. Wax paper was enough)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg wash (optimal)
Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling top (optional)
As for the filling, I knew after my second practice pie that I wanted to include cornstarch to gel the juices, and vanilla because, well, it’s vanilla! The filling recipe I adapted was from Kraft’s The Perfect Apple Pie. My apples were really flavorful organic Fujis from The Fresh Market, but you can use any tart/sweet apple. I find Granny Smiths to be too tart. You could spend days reading up on which apple varieties make the best pie (yes, I have). My rule of thumb is to use an apple variety with an even tart/sweet balance. Like a Fuji.
I finally got the hang of my new apple peeler/corer/slicer! Yay, new skill!
Ta da! I went with an egg wash and large-grain sugar sprinkles. Next time, I will probably try a non-dairy milk wash and a finer-grain sugar.