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So I was standing in line for movie snacks, scanning to see if they had Reese’s Pieces (Did you know Reese’s Pieces are gluten-free? And also a sure-fire lure for stranded aliens? True Facts!) when I tuned in to the conversation going on in front of me. The sweet young thing surrounded by her sweet young friends was ordering “the chocolate-covered peanuts?” And the concessionaire was pretending that he didn’t know what she meant, because he knew exactly what she was talking about, and he wasn’t going to give in until she slitted her eyes and lowered her voice and said “The GOOBERS. I want a box of GOOBERS.” Which if I had to wear a red polyester vest all day and sell “buttery topping,” I would probably play mean games like that, too.

But I empathized with the girl. I HATE shopping at stores with stupid names, using products with stupid names… I have a very small cool reservoir as it is, and I can feel it leaking away every time  I say something like “I bought my Zumba tapes at Fit ‘n Hollywood on Wiener Street!”

I have a food-related point here. Honest.

A lot of gluten-free baking recipes call for 3 or 4 different kinds of flours, blended together. Which makes sense. If you’ve ever tried to substitute straight rice flour for wheat flour, and had to choke down the subsequent grittiness, you know what I’m talking about. But I get tired of the whole “1/2 cup of sorghum, 1/4 cup of teff, 2 tablespoons of potato starch, teaspoon of finely ground unicorn hair blah blah blah…” So I’m always looking for a flour mix that I can substitute in those recipes.

Enter Gluten Free Mama. (Don’t you love that clanging sound as two halves of a story come crashing together?) The “Mama’s Coconut Blend” makes a really delicious gluten-free pie crust, without dragging out 18 different bags of flours.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust
adapted from Gluten-Free Baking, by Rebecca Reilly. She has serious French baking bona fides, and knows what good pastry tastes like. I’ve tried a few recipes from this book, and plan on trying several more. I’ve make this pie crust a bunch of times, and it’s always fantastic.

For a single-crust:

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (omit if crust is for savory foods)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice

Whisk together the gluten-free mix, sugar, and salt. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture, occasionally stopping to toss the butter shreds with the flour. Cut the butter the rest of the way into the flour, either with a pastry cutter, or by rubbing the mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center, break in the egg, and add the tablespoon of vinegar. Using a fork, stir from the center, working the flour into the egg mixture to form a soft dough. (Note: if you live in a dry climate, like me, do not be afraid to add water, as much as you need to make the dough form a cohesive mass. Nothing more frustrating than trying to form a crust from a handful of dry crumbs.)

Now. Here is where Ms. Reilly and I part ways, because she’s all “la la la roll it out to the size needed to fit into your pan.” No. Stop. That way lies MADNESS. This dough is tender. This dough does not want to stick together. It wants to fall into little shreds whenever you try to lift it into your pie pan until you are weeping with frustration and ready to throw the whole mess against the wall.

INSTEAD. Pat your dough into a flat little circle, and flour it up heavily. Put it in a gallon zip-lock or between a couple sheets of parchment and roll it until it’s about 8 inches across. Then flop it into a greased pie plate, and do the rest of the work with your fingers. You can pinch and stretch this dough as much as you like – it will not toughen or shrink when it bakes, because there’s NO GLUTEN. I know, a revelation to no one but me, but I did enjoy the little choir of angels that erupted over my head when I realized this.

So pinch and shove and crimp your dough until it looks like pie crust and is evenly distributed in the pie plate. Then proceed with your pie, or you can pre-bake it in a 400F oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. You don’t need to weight it – it will stay almost exactly where you put it.

This crust has a beautiful crispy quality, almost like a lovely thin sugar cookie. It holds up to wet heavy fillings beautifully. It’s delicious, and not in that “well, it’s pretty good for gluten-free” damning-with-faint-praise way, but in a “I do believe I WILL have another slice of pie” sort of way.

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