Well, inventing the universe seems a bit much for the Crispy Cook to tackle, so I took a different approach and decided to try my hand at making a custardy type pie in a pre-baked shell. Gluten-free of course, and so that required inventing or at least improving on the universe of my baking skills. These skills being perhaps more like a small galaxy, or an orbiting moon. Or realistically, an asteroid, but I digress.
I've made a few fruit pies in my time, but I wanted to tackle a different species of pie, so I reached for my shoebox full of index cards and picked out a recipe for Maple Walnut Pie of uncertain provenance (it has my teenaged handwriting, so it is probably from a cookbook borrowed from the library). If you are like me, you are one of those folks who likes to eat trees. I mean that toothsome combination of maple and walnut flavors that just tastes so perfect together, especially during the cooler days of autumn.
The Gluten Free Ratio Rally bunch picked pie making for our October project and this month we are led by Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen in tackling gluten-free pie pastry and fashioning it into various pie permutations.
The Gluten Free Ratio Rally is a group of bloggers who believe in tackling baking projects by using basic ratios of flour, fat, liquids and eggs as a starting point and by measuring ingredients by weight rather than volume, to ensure more scientific results. I joined this amazing group of bakers several months ago, when we all shared our results using Pate a Choux (I made Cream Puffs with Coffee Cream), then Pasta (I made Smoked Paprika Noodles), then Cake (I made a Czech Cherry Bublanina), and then Doughnuts (mine were pretty darn fancy Chocolate Donuts with Chocolate Glaze). I had to skip the last round, when this group made pizza (I made one but it was soggy and sorry), but I was determined not to miss a chance to hone my pie making skills, in readiness for the upcoming holiday season.
|Gluten Free Ratio Rally Pie Bakers at Work|
I've made a couple of gluten-free pie crusts in the past with some success, like Baked Brie wrapped in a bean pastry crust (not bad) and Apple Sour Cream Pie with flaky pastry crust (maybe a bit too flaky), and was determined to use the Ratio Rally methods to strengthen my pie baking skills. So back to eating trees.
|The unbaked pie crust ready for the oven|
I decided to make two crusts instead of one since it is so much work and so floury to put together one crust anyway. The starting ratio for the Gluten Free Pie crust is 3:2:1, 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part liquid. For two crusts then, I would need 12 oz. flour, 8 oz. shortening (my pie-master is my late maternal grandmother, who always used shortening), and 4 oz. (or less, depending on how things stuck together with my dough) of ice water.
I used equal parts of cornstarch (for lightness), tapioca starch (for flexibility in the pastry) and sorghum flour (for a nutty, hearty taste) for my flour blend. I buy these items in bulk at any one of Albany's Asian markets to keep my gluten-free flour costs down.
My Gluten Free Pie Crust Recipe (adapted from Michael Ruhlman's 3-2-1 Pie Dough recipe)
4 oz. cornstarch
4 oz. tapioca starch
4 oz. sorghum flour (sometimes labeled as jowar flour)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (keeps gf baked goods from crumbling)
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. vegetable shortening
4 oz. ice water
Rice flour for dusting
|The baked gluten free pie crust (a few cracks, but really flaky and tender)|
1 cup water
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
Cream butter and rice flour together. Add egg yolks, maple syrup, corn syrup and water and mix until completely blended. Cook in saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. You don't want this to overboil or scorch, so you need to be doing something right next to the stove, like washing the mound of pie crust-making dishes, to keep a close eye on things.
Add in chopped nuts and continue to stir and cook until a little bit thicker, about another 5 minutes. This will also soften up the walnuts.
Pour into cooled baked pie crusts and refrigerate at least 1 hour to firm up. Serve topped with slightly sweetened whipped cream. Makes 2 pies.
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen has all the links to the other gluten free pie experiments that my fellow GF Ratio Rally Bakers will have for you to see, including hand pies, galettes, savory pies, pot pies, quiches and other pie pastry goodness, so be sure to hop over there.