Again, a warm welcome to Cara for her first recipe on the blog! Cara’s post is for a gluten-free pie crust. Enjoy! ~Elizabeth
I love to bake. I love the simple chemistry, working with my hands, and the “something’s baking” smells that fill my house. Plus, nothing beats how cool it is to serve the people I love most something I made from scratch, and then watch them gobble it up.
As a baking enthusiast I was saddened to learn that my son, Avery, is allergic to many of the most essential and common baking ingredients: wheat/gluten, cow’s milk, and eggs. Virtually everything baked by me, or anyone, includes these ingredients! But, rather than giving up my favorite pastime, I decided to take up gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free baking as my new hobby.
This 4th of July, I set out on a mission: to bake a pie that Avery could eat. I started with a basic pie crust recipe from my beloved, food-particle-encrusted copy of The Healthy Kitchen by Dr. Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley. My first attempt (and yes, there was more than one!) at making this dairy-free & gluten-free went thusly: I substituted Smart Balance for the butter (1-to-1), and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free baking flour for the standard wheat flour (1-to-1). Both of these substitutions have been useful in making excellent cookies and muffins, so I had good reason to think they’d work here.
Sadly, while this first attempt was basically edible, it was by no means good enough. It was tough, and kind of paste-y, and just… not good. Don’t get me wrong, the pie was consumed… but we all kind of ate around the crust. So call me a perfectionist, but getting a pie crust flaky and good enough to eat without the filling is the ultimate goal, right? I started over, and began with making sure I had… Crisco.
Crisco. Where to begin, with Crisco? Some people consider it to be the Devil’s work, but mostly because everything it touches turns to gold. It is solid at room temperature which, for something considered an ‘oil’, is never a good thing. But, Crisco is dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free! My mother has been baking with it for years, and everything she bakes is delicious, and we are all still here to tell the tale.
Crisco came through – the result was flaky, just like the ‘real thing’! A tiny bit sweet and nutty; a delicious and perfect pie crust. Everyone dove in and made it disappear, and no one ever asked me how I made it. What do they care? It tastes good – just as good as the “real thing”. Mission accomplished.