Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie for Everyone, a Fearless Friday Feat

*The following Fearless Friday is a guest post by Bran Mydwynter.*

I don’t have a sweet tooth, really. But there’s only so much turkey or mashed potato I can eat each Thanksgiving before I need a sugary, spicy chaser. (How’s that for a tortured metaphor?) And this year, since I’ve had to go gluten-free, I’m not going to leave it up to fate that there will be a dessert at my not-in-laws I can eat. Thus? This Friday, I went over to Heather’s, and we made pumpkin pie.

Gluten-free pie-making isn’t really a whole lot different from regular pie-making. A lot of the same principles apply; keep the butter cold, drizzle the ice water in slowly, don’t mash the flour and the butter together too much so that the crust will remain flaky. That sort of thing still applies. The difference, really, is that (like any other gluten-free baking) you’ll use more than one kind of flour.

The reason for that, and we can explore this more another time, is that there is no single kind of flour which can easily do all the things you need your wheat-based flour to do. So what you do is use a mix of various types of flour (each with its own useful qualities, like protein content or chewiness) in the hope that, all together, they can approach the qualities you’d want from wheat-based flour.

Make sense?

In this crust, we have white rice flour, which is a nice start, but doesn’t add a whole lot of extra oomph to the dough, and can be gritty with a bit of an aftertaste. So you temper it by adding sorghum flour (which has a nice body to it), cornstarch and tapioca (both of which are light starches, so they won’t contribute any heaviness to the dough, and they lack any aftertaste.) And we add sweet rice flour.

Sweet rice flour, also known as mochi flour or glutinous rice flour (because it’s sticky, not because it has gluten in it) is made from a particular kind of sticky rice popular in various parts of Asia. You can buy it online, but I found mine in an Asian food mart for less than half the price. The best part about baking gluten-free goods with sweet rice flour is the texture it imparts: spongy, moist, and almost like a “real” baked good. I had brownies made with sweet rice flour a few months ago and they were about the best brownies I’d ever had. Ever. This was the first time I’d gotten to bake with it, and I can’t wait to try out all those recipes with it that have been popping up all over the internet lately.

You need an egg for binder, and apple cider vinegar for…well, in this recipe it’s for flavour. Apple cider is used a lot in gluten-free baking to help raise acidity in the dough and add a little bit of leavening with the yeast it contains, but we’re not dealing with a risen dough here. Anyway.

/**So Heather forgot to take an oooh look at the pretty baked pie picture, so you’re stuck with the almost ready to be baked shot ***/

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

That’s about it for the unconventional pie crust ingredients. Let’s get started.

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon good, real cinnamon
  • 8 tablespooons (one stick) cold butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ice water, or just enough to make the dough not crumble

Homogenous Flour MixtureCombine all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and stir them all together until they’re homogenous.

Cut your butter into small pieces, and cut it into the dry ingredients with two butter knives or a pastry cutter until the dough looks crumbly and none of the chunks of butter are larger than pea-sized. If you work slowly, like I do, put the whole shebang into the fridge for a few minutes so that the butter can harden back up. The quicker you work, and the colder your butter is, the more flaky your crust is going to be.

Once the butter has been cut in, make a little well in the middle and dump in your egg and your apple cider vinegar. Stir all that together with a fork until the dough is evenly wet, trying not to smash too badly all those lovely tiny bits of flour-covered butter. One tablespoon at a time, being adding in your ice water until you can pinch a bit of the dough and the bits will stick together.

Gluten Free DoughDump this good-smelling mess into the center of a piece of parchment paper -trust me on this; if you use waxed paper the water content in the dough will make it fall apart when you roll it out, and you’ll be picking little bits of waxed paper off your neatly-rolled-out dough. Don’t be like me.¬†Gather it together into a slightly-flatted ball, and cover it with another piece of parchment paper. Press out from the center so that a wide disc of dough (almost as wide as your pie plate) is sandwiched between the two pieces of paper, and pop it into the fridge to chill. Best practice says to let your dough chill in the fridge overnight, but this turned out fine with only an hour or two of refrigeration.

While it is chilling, start preparing your filling. (That rhyme was accidental. I’m leaving it in. I’m that kind of girl.)

  • 1 large (about 8″ diameter) or two medium pie pumpkin(s)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk

Preheat your oven for

/**
hey Heather, what did you do it at?
/***

Heather says: 400F

Cut open your pie pumpkin(s) from stem to stern, and scoop out the seeds and stringy innards. Place them face-down on a cookie sheet, and fill that cookie sheet with water. Pop them in the oven for about an hour, or until the pumpkin is soft when pierced by a fork.

Take your dough out of the fridge at this point; you’ll want it to rest in room temperature for about twenty minutes before you use it so it will become malleable enough to roll out.

Scoop the pumpkin from the skin, and let it cool enough to handle.

Pumpkin PureeWhen it is, put it in the middle of some cheese cloth and gently squeeze out some—but not all—of the water.

Squeezed Pie PureeIf it looks a little runnier than the pumpkin puree you’d get from a can, that’s perfectly fine; the recipe takes that into account. You’re going to be using 3 cups of this cooked pumpkin in this recipe. Discard the rest, or use it for another recipe.

Use whatever blending tool you have around (we used a stick blender) to blend the cooked pumpkin to an even consistency.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (sugar, spices, salt). Stir in the eggs, the evaporated milk, and the pumpkin, and make sure they are blended well together. I took the stick blender to it again, not only because it’s fun to use, but also so that the spices were incorporated well into the filling.

Dough between sheets of PARCHMENT paper.Go back to your dough. Roll it out in a circle between the two layers of parchment paper so that it’s thin and wider than your pie plate by a few inches. Take off the top layer, place your plate upside down on top of the rolled out dough and flip it right side up. Peel the second sheet off of the dough, and begin damage control. Smooth out the cracks, press the crust into shape, and make it pretty. You have slightly more leeway with a gluten-free crust than you do with a traditional crust, since the slightly-stickier dough means you can just press back on bits which have fallen off, and generally sculpt your pie crust without worrying about affecting structural integrity.

Add Pie FillingPour your pie filling into the pie shell, and bake at 425 F for the first 15 minutes. Then, turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, until the filling no longer jiggles, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

The pie will set as it cools, and your patience will be rewarded.

Enjoy!

Did you do anything for Fearless Friday? If so, please feel free to share in the comments. Either share a link to your own blog or tell us in your comment how you pushed your culinary boundaries.

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Comments

    • says

      Those with a gluten intolerance or allergy are typically learning that they need several types of flours to replace wheat. I think Bran did a fantastic job explaining the reasons for each type in a manner that would allow someone to adjust the ratios if there was a feature they wished to promote.

      As I know several people with intolerances, I will be stocking my pantry with these flours to be able to bring foods they can enjoy. Now, if someone has a true wheat allergy (where they have a systemic reaction) I would be obligated to warn them that my home is not gluten free and there is always the risk of cross-contamination.

    • says

      I think buying all the ingredients at one time might be intimidating, sure. (And expensive.) But what I suggest doing is buying one "gluten-free baking staple" at a time, each time you go to the grocery store. Rice flour, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, xantham gum…

      If you start accruing them gradually, there will come a point when you having the ingredients to make most anything, and after that it's just maintenance.

      You can do eet!

  1. knitaddict says

    Heather, we're on some sort of cosmic link with one another!!! LOL–last nite, I made my Thanksgiving/Christmas pumpkin pies! I read that a cooked pumpkin pie can be frozen for about 3 months and with this here new baby getting ready to make its appearance any day now, I figured better safe than sorry! (Don't wanna miss out on ze pumpkin pie…I eat it for breakfast! *ashamed face*) Anywho, we follow a strict gluten free diet for myself (I've got Celiac Disease) and our 4 yr old daughter (she's autistic)…….but I TOTALLY CHEAT! I get ready made gluten free pie crusts from Whole Foods…they're frozen and they're really good…can't tell much of a difference.

    • says

      I've got this problem, see. I'm cheap. And I'm poor. And I'm celiac. Okay, three problems. ;) So every time I go to Whole Foods or Earth Fare to spend a chunk of gold on a baked good that won't last three days, I get a little twitch in my eye. ::grin::

      So for me, if I want it, I have to bake it myself. Sometimes I WISH I could get over it and buy a loaf of bread (I haven't been able to make any since July or August), but alas, it is not to be. My friend L loves those GF pie crusts from Whole Foods, too; she was teasing me with blueberry pie a few months ago, but we didn't think she should ship it from Wisconsin. ;)

    • GF Wife says

      Which brand do you like from Whole Foods? They have 365 Every Day and Gillian's that I have found. Are there other brands? My hubby is GF and he loves apple pie.

  2. knitaddict says

    ALSO, last year, BEFORE I KNEW that ready made gluten free pie crusts even EXISTED, I read that you can EASILY make a crustless pumpkin pie…..some people call it pumpkin custard. Just buy a can of Libby's and follow the recipe on the back…when you're ready to bake…take a pie plate and spray it w/Pam and pour the "pie" in…..bake just like normal. That's what we did last year since pumpkin pie is such a tradition in our house and I was so new to the gluten free diet…..I was a little intimidated in the beginning. But we did that and there was not ONE BITE LEFT…it was marvelous and got a little crusty on the edges…..yum! Just perfect! Either way you shake it, pumpkin pie is certainly one of the first desserts that should be attempted after switching to a gluten free diet….at the VERY LEAST, it'll taste GREAT and THAT will give your ego a much needed BOOST! LOL

  3. Sarah Schatz says

    I used to make my gluten free baked goods with several flours too. But then I realized that the gluten-free flours weren't agreeing with me either. So I switched to grain-free flours like almond and coconut flours. I made an almond flour pie crust the other day that is great, and you only need the one flour, which makes life simpler. It was not as flaky as regular pie crust but still very yummy.

    I also made a coconut pie crust which is very different but still very good. thanks for the post!
    Sarah

    • says

      Oooh. I've been chomping at the bit to try both of those flours. Where did you get the recipes?

      (To tell you the truth, a lot of gluten-free flours give me a stomach-ache. Especially breads. OUCH. Therefore, I try to avoid them as much as possible, and focus on eating naturally GF things. But I'm starting to be curious about cooking and baking more with bean and nut flours…)

  4. Jennifer says

    I’m glad to see this recipe… I have a similar “flour” question and was wondering if anyone had any ideas… I am making an apple pie for T-day and want to try wheat flour in place of white, (my mom is diabetic). Can I just substitute one for the other? I assumed I could until I read this GF recipe and realized that I might be inadvertently leaving out a key piece. Thoughts? Thanks! -Jen