Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gluten-free Pie Crust Recipe

I have found that gluten-free crusts aren't too difficult.  What helps to make them easy is, ironically, their lack of gluten.

Wheat-based pie crusts are very finicky.  They have to be rolled out correctly the first time or the gluten is developed and the crust becomes tough.  GF crusts don't have this issue.

What makes gluten-free crusts tricky is that they tend to crumble and break apart.  However, you can try rolling them out as many times as you like.  If mine doesn't roll out correctly on the first go I just fold it over onto itself and roll it out again.  You can do this many times for a really flaky, layered pastry.  Or, if all else fails, you can just press it into the pan.

The hardest part of making pie crusts for me is the timing and the temperature of the ingredients.  You have to keep the bowl, the ingredients, and the blade cold if you don't want to have your dough turn out like this disaster:
Don't.

There is a lot of waiting and refrigerating to do so be sure to plan ahead.  I adapted this recipe from the Joy of Cooking, a very good resource for pastry making.

Gluten-free Pie Crust Recipe

mix time: 20 min
rest time: 30 min
cook time: 
30-50 minutes filled (like apple pie) or 
20 minutes pre-cooked for a custard filling

First, put your bowl, your blade or pastry cutter, and all 2 1/2 sticks of butter in the freezer for at least ten minutes.  In a large bowl or a food processor, mix:

2 1/2 (315 g) cups gluten-free Deluxe Pastry Flour
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (if your flour mix doesn't already have it)

Add:

2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or in the food processor until the pieces of butter are pea-sized.  It should look like this:

Add:

1/2 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces or 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Continue to cut the fat into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces.  Add:

1/3 cup ice-cold water

Gently cut the liquid into the flour and butter until it looks evenly distributed and small balls begin to form.  Press the balls of dough together gently.  If they stick together, you have added enough water.

If they don't, add 1-2 more tablespoons ice-cold water and repeat as necessary.  Divide the dough in half, make two big patties with it, tightly wrap it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several days.   Half of the recipe will be the bottom of the pie crust.  If you don't need a top crust you can freeze the other half.

Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to warm up enough to be pliable like play-dough.  Lightly flour the surface and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper.

If you are going to use the crust for a liquid filling you will need to cook it first.  Carefully place it in the pie pan and press the edges into something decorative or remotely pie-like.  Patch any gaps with extra dough.
Refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes.  If you have a relatively dry filling such as apple pie, you can fill and cook the crust according to the pie recipe.  If you have a very wet pie filling such as a lemon custard, you will have to cook the crust before adding the filling.  Cover the crust with tin foil and weight it with uncooked rice or beans.  Cook in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the tin foil and weights, then prick the crust all over with a fork and bake for another 5 minutes.  If you are going to fill the crust with something uncooked and very wet, glaze the crust with egg yolk and put it back in the oven for one minute.  Then fill the pie and cook as needed for the filling.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

GF Gourmand's Gluten-free Gift Ideas

Need some gift ideas for a gluten-free person in your life?  Here are some practical suggestions for things to give or read this holiday season.

This holiday season, get your friends and loved ones something they can cherish forever: a book.  

The Essential Gluten-free Restaurant Guide by TriumphDining.

Know someone with a new baby in their life?  Get them the Eco-nomical Baby Guide: down-to Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet, written by the authors of GreenBabyGuide.com.

Not that they need more press in this circle of friends, but this one is on my wish list:

Gluten-free Girl and the Chef


Have gluten-free friends?  If they are new to the diet, it's likely they will need some new kitchen equipment to help them in their new culinary pursuits.  Here are some things I've always desired:

Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer

Chantal 8-inch Omelette Pan

You can find these and other culinary tools in Portland or online at Kitchen Kaboodle.

Or, if your GF friend isn't a cook, get him or her something that will be both decorative and practical:  a Vanilla Spoons Gift Basket. It's the perfect edible gift for the holidays!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

St. Peters Sorghum Beer

One of the only things I miss about eating gluten isn't about eating at all: it's about drinking beer.  I'm always on the lookout for new gluten-free beers, which is why I was eager to try St. Peter's.

I enjoyed drinking this beer.  It stands out against other gluten-free lagers for being higher quality, hoppier, and cleaner.   The hoppiness plays nicely against the inevitable metallic flavor that sorghum imparts on a beer.

The description on the bottle reads:

"A clean, crisp beer with a pilsner style lager finish and aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops.  Made from Sorghum, not wheat or barley.  Brewed with skill and patience in Britain's finest small brewery."

I've found St Peter's Sorghum Beer at various GF-friendly grocery stores in the Portland area selling for $6.99.  When weighing the price, keep in mind these factors:

1) It's gluten-free.
2) It's imported.
3) It's from the UK.  They not only make hearty beer there, but they also have a strong currency.
4) It's 1 pint, .9 oz.  That's about two servings in beer glasses like the one pictured.  A typical American bottle of beer is 12 oz.
5) In the world of gluten-free beer drinking, any new beer you can try expands your options considerably.

Have you tried St Peter's Sorghum beer?  Do you have an opinion you would like to share?  Please leave it in the comments.

Check out my Beer Guide for more gluten-free beer reviews.