Pie Crust – and a Goodbye to Gluten-free

Well, I weighed for a while whether or not to write this post up, then decided that since I took all the pictures, and a few of my teensy handful of followers started reading this regularly for gluten-free recipes, that I may as well.  This will most likely be my last one like that, and I thought I should explain.  This is a blog about food, not my personal life (WordPress is not Xanga), but often, we cannot separate the two.  We cook for many reasons, and we love food for many reasons.

I myself am not celiac, nor on a gluten-free fad diet.  I began exploring gluten-free baking last summer, when I met a guy with celiac disease.  We hit it off, I returned to Spain, we kept talking, and we hit it off again when the economy drove me home.  But everyone who has dipped their toes into the tumultuous waters of romantic attachments knows that sometimes, though a connection may be real, sometimes time and circumstance may interfere.  To start angling back towards the food aspect, sometimes you may have gourmet ingredients, but forgot to take into account that you’re living in Colorado until your souffle deflates because of altitude issues.

New fancy pie shield from my stepmom for my birthday! It’s adjustable.

So, no more gluten-free, unless I run into more celiac people.  Which is probably going to happen.  Who knows? But I couldn’t leave this recipe out of the gluten-free chapter of my life and my blog, because of who I am.  That’s right.  We’re talking pie.

A month or so ago, I was introduced to my then-boyfriend’s friends.  I was rather nervous, because there was going to be a lot of them all at once, and that’s a lot of charm to summon up.  Then Alex began dropping hints.

“You know, I’ve told them all about how you bake pies.”

“Oh really. Wait, Alex, you don’t even like pie that much.  I only made you pie once, all last summer because you told me you don’t like cooked fruit.”

“Oh, you mean that chocolate cream pie with the chocolate and vanilla crumb crust with the whipped cream? I think apple would be a good idea this time. You know…to…win them over.  Oh, and I was telling my roommates about that cool little refrigerated bag you have that you brought up ice cream in last time.”

“Did you just ask for ice cream without asking for it straight out?”


“It has to be gluten-free, doesn’t it.”


So, under the guise of winning hearts and minds, I was to make a gluten-free pie.  A la mode. I could do that.

Except gluten-free pie crust is a total pain in the ass.

Gluten-free Pie Crust

I am the master of pie crust.  So when I found out that I was going to have to live up to my advertised hype without my strongest weapon, I started reading.  There are a lot of good recipes out there, with various tricks or additives.  But unfortunately, I had to work the two days leading up the Pie for Friends deal, so anything tricky?  Out of the question. I opted to adapt this recipe, while ignoring a lot of their suggestions.  Probably not a great idea, as you will see below.

I halved the recipe, because Alex insisted on a crumb topping, like his mom used to make.  Oh yes.  Full on challenge.

3/4 stick of butter – 6 Tbsp – chilled

1 c flour blend (this one is fab)

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/8 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sugar

1/4 c cream cheese, chilled

2-3 Tbsp cold water, or as much as you need to get it to pull together.

Mix together the flour, xanthan, baking powder, and sugar.  Cut in the butter.

When you have coarse crumbs, add the cream cheese and cut it in as well.

You can make this in the food processor, but freeze everything first so that the friction does’t melt your fat too quickly and destroy the future flakiness.  I just like making pie crust by hand because I find it peaceful.

Add the water in little by little until the crust comes together.  I always need more than the recipe calls for, but that’s me.  Form the crust into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough when it comes time, making sure you have plenty of gluten-free flour or cornstarch to keep it from sticking from the counter.  Now.  A warning.

Gluten-free crust cracks like a son of a bitch.  Just gut through it and roll it out.  There was a lot more cursing in my kitchen than there is on this page.

How can this be happening to me??  To ME??  I haven’t had a pie crust mishap in years!  Scream at it, then start smooshing it together.  Where there is too much, tear or cut it off and patch it in the places where there isnt enough.  Make sure to fold under your pie crust where it touches the pan so it’s thick enough.

See? We survived.  I swore my stepfather to secrecy, but since I am now posting pictures of it on the internet, that’s kind of been rendered moot.  Just to remind you all, I’m not perfect.  Stick that sucker in the freezer, so that when we add the filling, we don’t muss the stupid crust we just spent so much stupid time doing its stupid fluting.

My third apple peeler. It needed some adjusting.

You’ll find the recipe for the pie and the crumb topping here.  The only difference in the crumb topping is swapping out the flour, no xanthan needed.  It’s supposed to be crumbly.

So, I made you scroll through all of these pictures, and I’ve moaned about how frustrating this crust was.  How’d it taste?


To make it even fancier, I made creme fraiche ice cream out David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop.  If I was going to make pie AND ice cream, I was going to go all out.  Also delicious.

I packed ‘er up in my new fabulous pie carrier that my stepmother gave me as a belated birthday present.  I thought she got me a hat box.  I have now become the perfect party guest.

And yes, I do have a purse-like refrigerator bag for ice cream.  I am super styling.

The pie was amazing.  Everyone loved it, I lived up to expectations, and discharged my duty.  While I won’t be making this particular version again, I hope you all do.  And please, come back and tell me if you improve it.  I’d love to take some of the headaches out of it, if I ever have to spoil celiacs again.

Goodbye, gluten-free.  I’m sure there will be another food quirk coming my way, given my friends.


6 Responses to “Pie Crust – and a Goodbye to Gluten-free”

  1. 1 sybaritica August 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I have seen so many blog posts on gluten-free this, and gluten-free that, I decided to see what the fuss was about. What I read, from credentialed specialists was that unless you are celiac, or suffer some similar intestinal disorder there is no benefit at all to going gluten-free…. how is it do you suppose that so many are convinced they are doing something healthy by avoiding it?

    • 2 desasdishes September 1, 2012 at 2:32 am

      I’ve heard quite a bit of conflicting ideas, but I’ve also heard that if you don’t have an allergy or celiac disease, you shouldn’t go completely gluten-free. However, gluten allergies seem to be on the rise, either because of awareness that it exists or some other reason. I’ve heard that it’s healthier for those without a gluten problem to eat a variety of grains instead of just wheat. Honestly, I’m not a nutritionist. And even though I’ve done a lot of gluten-free cooking, the easiest way to do it is by planning meals that don’t revolve around bread or grains. When I was dating this guy, I didn’t go gluten-free. I read up on it and started experimenting so I could be sure I didn’t shorten the life of my boyfriend.

      • 3 sybaritica September 1, 2012 at 2:35 am

        The ‘current wisdom’ on healthy eating seems to change from day to day. I like Michael Pollan’s dictum… ‘Eat food, not to much, mostly plants’. Easy to follow, eminently sensible.

  2. 4 Megan@eatmybeets September 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Beautiful pictures 🙂 I too have adapted my diet for a guy – my boyfriend is allergic to wheat, and so I started looking for ways to exclude wheat from recipes. At the time, I would feed him every now and then, but that’s sort of died off. However, I still hardly cook things that have wheat in them.

    • 5 desasdishes September 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      The big problem was that my ex had a sweet tooth and always mourned the lack of cookies and cake in his life – he discovered he was celiac when he was in his very early twenties, so he already had a pretty well-developed set of cravings. I’ve had vegan friends, friends who don’t eat processed sugar, diabetic friends…it’s always an intellectual challenge and makes you think more closely about what you yourself are eating. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be making Irish Car-bomb Cupcakes soon to thumb my nose at them all. 😉 Thanks for coming by and sharing!

  1. 1 Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes « Desa's Dishes Trackback on October 5, 2012 at 2:57 am

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Hey, I'm Desa. I've been bouncing between the Pacific Northwest and Sevilla, Spain in the last few years and from tiny apartment to tiny apartment. I cook mainly for one, which means some potentially boring meals, but here I'll be sharing the food that excites me. Feel free to offer suggestions, commiseration, or desires. And thanks for coming by!


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