Monday, October 26, 2009

3 Strikes and I'm Out

Thanksgiving is coming. Pie is a necessity. I can rock a homemade crust with wheat flour, so this weekend, I set out to find a workable gluten-free crust that doesn't rely on eggs to bind the flour together.

I began my rainy Saturday measuring and combining assorted flours to create a batch of high fiber mix, and another, starchier all-purpose flour from this Celiac book. Instead of committing these expensive, labor-intensive flour mixes to two-crust pies, I used Martha Stewart's Toasted Pecan Dough (as veganized and de-glutenized by kittee) to make a basic apple cinnamon pandowdy. (A pandowdy has only a top crust. It's supposed to look sloppy, so there was none of the usual anxiety or self-loathing regarding edge crimping.)

Since kittee's pandowdy crust turned out so firm and crusty, I followed her lead and used the high fiber mix. It came together in a ball and rolled easily, but sadly, the crust never set; when I tapped on it with a spoon after 40 minutes in the oven, it was still soft as dough. After it cooled, the crust was grainy and disintegrated into crumbs when sliced.

The crust and filling (MacIntosh slices, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and a bit of gluten-free flour) tasted great, but the final product was more like an apple crisp than pie. Definitely edible, but not fit for company or Thanksgiving.

Next, I followed the recipe again using the high starch white rice flour mix. The crust was lighter, but similarly crumbly and disappointing.

Sunday morning I went in a different direction: blueberry, with a crust out of the aforementioned Celiac book. The author said the key to success with gluten-free crust is extended chilling. After 2 hours in the refrigerator, the dough was too dry to roll out; it came apart in chunks when I applied pressure. Apparently this is typical. Deflated, disappointed, too impatient to chill the dough and try again, I laid the broken crust on top of the filling, Bittman style.

In this pie I used 1 quart blueberries in syrup, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup tapioca starch.

The crust firmed up but did not really brown (that's cinnamon sugar on top). It tasted like regular pie crust. Should I try again, and add more water for increased flexibility?

There are other recipes; should I play around with egg substitutes? Should I give up on the dream of a gluten-free vegan pie crust that looks and tastes and behaves normally? Should I throw in the towel and go the ground nuts/dates/syrup route?

Three crummy pies in two days. Luckily, pie freezes well.

13 comments:

  1. ah, that sounds difficult! they all look pretty and delicious though. but i know what you mean about wanting it perfect for company. keep it up! :)

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  2. Eeek! Sorry about your run of bad luck, at least they are tasty! I don't know anything about gluten free pie crusts so I can't help you...but I will be curious to see your next attempts, sure to be delicious and worthy of serving to company.

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  3. Smoosh them into ice cream!! Not as gorgeous as a pie, but definitely tasty. :)

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  4. I am sorry you did so much hard work and it still didn't come out well. Maybe try a raw nut crust?

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  5. I used the MS crust recipe again yesterday, for a cabbage and mushroom galette I brought to a potluck. It was less successful than the first one, but still edible. But definitely more crumbly. Have you seen this link?
    http://cupcakepunk.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/perfect-vegan-gluten-free-pie-crust/
    xo
    kittee

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  6. Thanks for link, kittee. How did I miss that? I just emailed her and asked which GF all purpose flour she used. That could make all the difference.

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  7. Oh no about the pie failures! I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free flour as the base flour. The chickpea flour acts as a binder like eggs (and it doesn't taste chickpea-y at all) and the rice flour lightens the crust. I've made it 2 more times and worked just like the first time! G

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  8. Oh, I'm sorry that it sounds so difficult to make it as you expected but all the photos look great to me. I'm so impressed with what you did. Please don't give up and good luck, Mary!

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  9. I am sorry you couldn't find a crust that worked well. Don't give up though, I am sure you can find a good gluten-free pie crust somewhere online. Keep trying Mary, you can do it!

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  10. Yes, hm, I am stumped by the science of a GF crust. You are supposed to treat a wheat flour crust gently, so that gluten doesn't form, yes? SO you would think that you could just use a GF flour and it would be fine... hm, I am just not edumacated enough about it! Good luck, tho.

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  11. Oh my gosh, that is the best risotto ever! (I just made it!) I totally agree that it could definitely be served in a restaurant. Yum!! And I added shitake mushies, yum x2!

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  12. oh dear. This does not bode well for me! my cousin is newly gluten free, and I need to make the family desserts for thanksgiving this year. It's taken all these years to get them enthusiastic about eating vegan desserts... now I've got a GF (and another soy-free) person! Ack! I guess I'd better get to work experimenting too. I'll keep an eye on your blog for sure!

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  13. I find with gluten free pie crusts it works best with bobs red mill GF All purpose mix which is fava, garbanzo, sorghum, potato and tapicoa starchs. Then both xanthum and guar gums. (My mother is GF and I like to still be able to bake for her.) But the secret to replacing eggs in pie doughs and cookie doughs is a combo of silken/soft tofu (1/2 silken/soft tofu)2 TBSP water +2 TBSP ground flax seeds.
    I find using that as a binder prevents the dough from getting to crumbly. It will be a bit wetter then typical pie dough, I chill it for 24 hours then roll it between 2 layers of parchemnt. I'll post the recipe on my blog soon, or just email me and I'll send it to you. I feel you pain, gluten free baking is a pain in the ass!
    http://whatyourmommadidntknow.blogspot.com

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