The best gluten free pie crust is so buttery and flaky, it’s hard to believe that it’s gluten free. But it is!
When someone I love wants a gluten free pie, I’m not afraid of the challenge. It’s On like Donkey Kong, because I believe everyone should be able to enjoy a buttery, flaky crust under their favorite pie filling.
I’ll figure out how to make the best gluten free pie crust!
Ha. That is easier said than done. Pie crust made without wheat gluten binding it together can be a challenge, to say the least. Most of the gluten free pie crust recipes out there are a little lacking. While some of the recipes were palatable, none of them are what I would consider to be a good pie crust.
Creating the best gluten free pie crust was proving to be more difficult than I had expected.
I tried all sorts of replacement binders to take the place of the gluten, but proper texture of the finished product eluded me. Much of the dough was wet and sticky, yet completely fell apart when I tried to manipulate it. Others were so hard and stiff that I would’ve needed a steamroller to flatten them before even thinking of sliding them into pie plates.
When I thought I had mastered the best gluten free pie crust a few different times, it turned to mush after being filled and baked.
Just when I was ready to shelve this project out of frustration, the Aha! moment happened. It was a total game changer in my quest for a “real” gluten free pie crust. I knew that I needed to try yet another binder. This time I tried one that wasn’t a commercially dehydrated and pulverized powdered thickener with chemical properties that I didn’t fully understand. I’d had enough failure at the hands of those pricey substitutes! This time I went for a binder with which I was well acquainted–the egg!
I realize how obvious it all sounds now that I’m typing it, but I was so caught up with the idea of substituting gums and starches for the gluten that I completely overlooked the most common binder available. For generations, many of our grandma’s pie crust recipes contained an egg because it made the crust “nicer” to roll out. Those crafty grandmas were on to to something!
Adding a beaten egg was the keystone to creation of the best gluten free pie crust!
Since I’m not a full-time gluten free baker, I used King Arthur Flour’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour mix as a base. Many of my gluten free friends mix their own flour blends, but I am not yet confident enough with the medium to rely on my own blends. King Arthur Flour does it well, and I trust them. I whisked a pinch of salt into the KAF mix, grated the butter into the bowl, tossed the butter to coat, and then worked a beaten egg into the mixture by hand. The mixture should still contain visible pieces of butter, as it’s that visible butter that will equate to flakiness later.
Comfortably Domestic Tip: I highly recommend using clean hands to make a gluten free crust. Using a mixer or food processor results in weirdly textured dough that is not akin to pie crust. This pastry is very loosely bound together, so it’s much more fragile than dough containing wheat gluten. A careful hand is required.
After incorporating the egg, work in one tablespoon of iced water at a time until the dough clumps into large pieces that hold shape when squeezed. The dough should feel moist but appear a little dry to the eye.
Transfer the dough onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Parchment paper is essential because it is contains silicone, which will give much needed slip when it comes time to roll out the crusts. Divide the crumbles in half on the parchment. Gently work the dough into two disks, ensuring that it is mostly smooth. (A few small cracks around the perimeter are okay.)
Working with one disk at a time, place a barely dampened paper towel over the disk that is not in use. Place another large sheet of parchment over the other disk. Roll the dough between the sheets of parchment to about 12-inches in diameter to line a 9-inch pie plate. Carefully remove the top sheet of parchment paper. If some of the dough sticks to the top sheet, just pick it off and press it back into place.
As I mentioned earlier, gluten free dough is quite fragile. I note this here because it is nearly impossible to lift a rolled gluten free crust to transfer it to the pie plate.
To get the crust into the pie plate with minimal damage:
- Lift the bottom sheet of parchment up off of the counter.
- Center it over top of the pie plate, and quickly flip the the parchment over the plate to get the dough into the plate in the same manner as a traditional wheat crust.
- The bottom sheet of parchment is now on top of the dough in the pie plate. Carefully peel away that bottom (now top) sheet of parchment.
See all of the cracks in the pie dough? Don’t freak out! The dough is very crumbly, but quite forgiving. Simply press the cracks in the pastry together, as if it were modeling clay.
Once any cracks are fixed, lift the overhanging edges and press them into a decorative edge. In my experience, the edge pieces want to fall apart unless I use a heavier hand to squeeze them into
The plain edge can either be left as is or coaxed into a more decorative edge.
The best gluten free pie crust is now ready to be filled and baked!
I’ve included many more helpful tips and tricks for using this gluten free pie dough in various styles of pie in the recipe portion of this post. No matter how you choose to bake it, just know that you’ll end up with the best gluten free pie crust — one with a buttery, almost shortbread-like texture that holds up beautifully to most any filling.
Be sure to come back later to see what I make with my best gluten free pie crust!