Gluten-free Pie Crust

I have been very lazy where pie crusts are concerned.  In the past, I have resorted to press-in types, because I didn’t like fussing with rolling them out.  For health’s sake, I also tried whole wheat versions with oil rather than shortening.  No one gave rave reviews over those.  Then during the low-fat craze, my crusts became even less tasty and harder to get out of the pie plate.  Rarely were there pies coming out of my kitchen.  Then I had to give up wheat and figured that completed the demise of pies for me.

Gluten-free Pie Crust 005If any of this sounds familiar, I want to jump up and down and shout that it doesn’t have to end this way for you!  I have found the solutions to my problems.

First of all, let me just say that organic virgin coconut oil is the biggest answer to all of your crust problems, whether wheat or gluten-free.  This stuff is amazing and has many health benefits.  Even though you start with solid coconut oil, as you work the crust you do not have to worry about the warming from your hands melting it and causing it to destroy the crust.  It actually makes it easier to work with the crust!

The second answer to crust problems for those with gluten-free needs is a product called Orgran gluten substitute.  This is made in Australia, but is available through Amazon I am told.  A friend shared a box with me and I was hooked.  PLEASE note, that you do not have to use this in this recipe, as I’ve given another option, but it is the easiest to make when you do.  It is primarily starch-based with some “-oses” and guar gum.  If you do not like to use those things, I’ll tell you how to skip it.

When I used the Orgran product, I both pressed in a crust and rolled out a crust.  (Pictured above are both – the press-in in the foreground with no edging and the rolled out in the background with a crinkled edge.)  The crust was so pliable and workable, that rolling it out was easy!  If I tore the crust, it easily patched with a little pressing and rolling.  Warming the ball of dough and kneading it a bit allowed for the best workability.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it was flaky, tender, and the best crust I had tasted in a long time!  Everyone liked it.  Success!  And it popped out of the pie plate without sticking, making for a pretty piece of pie on each plate.

The next time I did not use the Orgran and substituted more oat flour.  The crust still worked, but it was not as pliable and tended to want to stick to my rolling pin.  With some Pumpkin Pie Crust viewpatience and extra warmth/kneading, it still worked well.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it came out of the pan easily and was tasty, but it wasn’t as flaky and tender.  It had a tendency to crumb a little more.  The crust in this picture of pie is using the extra oat flour, as is the whole pie pictured below.  You can see that it doesn’t fall apart.  I think it is a viable option, and definitely a cheaper one.  I am wondering as I write this if I used melted coconut oil whisked with the water if that wouldn’t help even more with the texture of the finished product and the pliability of the dough.  I will have to continue experimenting.

Another great thing about this crust is that if you want a fancy edge, it will handle the extra grief needed to produce one.  On the other hand, if you want to just bring the crust up even to the edge of your pie plate and hack it off there, smoothing the edge, it works, too!  How can you not love such a versatile crust?  🙂

I have only worked this into a single crust pie.  I do not know how the more fragile no-Orgran crust will behave in a top-crust situation, but the one with the Orgran should be fine.

This makes 3, 9″ deep-dish single crusts with a little left over when you trim the crusts.  (If you saw my pumpkin pie recipe, you know that I have 3 pie plates to accommodate that recipe.  Thus the strange number of crusts.)  You can decrease the recipe to make a smaller amount if you have smaller pans or want fewer pies.

Pumpkin Pie-Whole

Gluten-free Pie Crust

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c. arrowroot
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 c. Orgran gluten substitute or oat flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (with a sweet pie the 2 tsp. seemed a little too much)
  • 1 c. solid coconut oil (measure and refrigerate if necessary during the summer heat)
  • 10 T. cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil until it is well mixed into the flour.  There should be smaller-than-pea-sized pieces formed when you are done.  Quickly stir in the cold water and knead/squeeze until the dough becomes well formed.  Divide into 3 equal balls of dough.  Onto waxed paper, roll out each circle of dough*.  If using the oat-flour-only option and it sticks to the rolling pin, use a lighter touch and be patient.  Transfer the crust to each pie pan by inverting the waxed paper over the pan.  Carefully peel off the waxed paper and fit the crust into the pan.  If there are splits or tears, just press the crust together.  Trim the top edge, finishing it as you would like.  Fill and bake according to pie’s directions.

*Another option would be to press the dough into each pan evenly and proceed with filling.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

(Sometimes when a blogger does a variation on a former recipe it seems almost like cheating to me…but…if you just stick an addendum onto the first-time-non-altered recipe, most people aren’t going to see it, right?  That must be why we do it.  It couldn’t be because we’ve been too busy/tired/burned out/bored/exhausted to create a new recipe, right?  Um-hmmm…that’s what I thought.)

Everyone was missing cookies.  I hadn’t had time to bake and it had been too hot to slave over an oven for a long time period anyway.  However, when the natives get restless for cookies, you know you’d better do something about it!

I thumbed through my pile of recipes (the ones awaiting hole-punching so that I can file them in my already-stuffed notebook…) and saw my Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Mmmm…man, those sounded good!  And I actually had all of the ingredients available.  But I still wasn’t interested in standing in the kitchen for an extended period of time dropping cookies onto the cookie sheets.  (There is just something about hot weather that makes me lethargically lazy.)  I wondered if I could turn them into blondies?

I added a little more coconut oil and put parchment paper in the pan (although, you might not need that, but it makes clean-up a snap!)  They came out very nicely.  They are still a relatively tender, fragile cookie/brownie ~ it seems that gluten-free cookies are either fragilelike this, or tough as nails ~ but they taste so good, I didn’t mind.

You’ll notice this recipe has very little variation from the cookie recipe I mentioned above, except it’s easier!

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1/2 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 c. fine almond meal or almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand), breaking up any lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper in a 9×13″ pan so that the edges stick up above the pan.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine and beat margarine, coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a fourth of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until well incorporated.  It may look a little separated due to the extra liquid needed with the coconut flour.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in almond and coconut flours until no dry spots remain.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to make sure your oven isn’t running too hot.

Place on cooling rack in the pan for 15 minutes or so, then lift the whole batch out (using the edges of the parchment paper sticking out of the pan) onto the rack to finish cooling and to make sure the paper doesn’t end up damp beneath the blondies.  After completely cooling, you can either transfer them back to the pan to cut them (esp. if you have one of those neat cake pans with plastic lids that can store the blondies – less dishes to wash!) or you can put them onto a cutting board to slice them into bars and store them in an airtight container.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Celiac disease seems to be on the upswing.  All of a sudden, you have friends or family who can’t eat wheat and other grains.  What do you feed them?  Panic ensues.  The packaged gluten-free items can be tasteless or hockey pucks – and expensive.  Plus, how good for you are those starches that they use to replace the flour?

As I researched cookies online, I found that there are a lot of recipes that I wouldn’t even want to try to gather the strange ingredients to make.  Who wants xanthan gum in a cookie…and what IS it?  After a few “unorthodox” recipes (read: not the gluten-free industry standards) were perused, I decided that I was probably better off to quit reading and start cooking.  Those “unorthodox” cooks had used some healthy ingredients in their baking and the pictures looked tasty!  Modifying my already-modified vegan recipes was obviously the place to start.

There’s another thing ~ if you have been vegan for long, you know it can be sticky enough bringing vegan cookies to a school, church, or family function, but gluten-free vegan cookies?  Oh, my.  Now nobody will touch them, right?  Relax.  These actually taste pretty good!  My teen boys, J & R, gave them a thumbs-up.  In fact, J even liked them better than my usual ones because he likes a softer cookie.  (Which means if you put a little sign on them “gluten-free vegan cookies,” it virtually guarantees nobody will eat them, and you get to take them home.  Win!)  (Addendum ~ that actually didn’t work at a party we attended.  There were only crumbs left.)

I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I posted yesterday and cut it in half.  (Just in case my plan didn’t work and they flopped!)  It was a good thing that I did.  By the time I got to the last pan, the dough had begun to change a bit and become drier.  Therefore, I do not recommend doubling this recipe. The next time I make them, I might drizzle in some more non-dairy milk toward the end and see if that changes anything.  (If you try it, let me know how they come out.)  The picture shows the story of the order of baking from top to bottom ~ it’s readily apparent that things changed.  (I used 17″ cookie sheets and had 3 sets go into the oven.)

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1/2 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 c. fine almond meal or almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand), breaking up any lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.  This step is non-negotiable.  Without it, I cannot be responsible for how awful your cookies look.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine and beat margarine, coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a fourth of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until well incorporated.  It may look a little separated due to the extra liquid needed with the coconut flour.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in almond and coconut flours until no dry spots remain.

Drop by teaspoon onto parchment-covered cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Carefully remove to cookie racks to cool.  I found the last cookies will be more fragile than the first ones.

Variation:  Make into blondies/bars here