Tips for Making Gluten-Free Pies and Pastries
A light hand with pastry, which is essential when making wheat-based pie crusts and pastries, isn’t an issue with gluten-free recipes. Gluten-free pie crusts and pastries are automatically tender. The trick is to make them flaky.
Producing a flaky and light pie crust or a tender pastry may take some practice! When you make wheat flour-based pie crusts and pastries, you must handle them very little to prevent a lot of gluten from developing. Wheat-based pie crusts need to straddle a delicate line between enough gluten to produce the desirable flaky layers and too much gluten, which makes the pastry tough.
Here are some tricks for making the best gluten-free pies and pastries:
Keep all the ingredients cold. To make a flaky pie or pastry, the butter or other fat should remain as cold and as solid as possible. Then, when the pastry meets the hot oven, the butter melts quickly and creates steam, which puffs up the structure of the pastry, creating those flaky layers.
If you don’t use a scale to measure flours and mixes, always measure by spooning the flour or mix lightly into a measuring cup and leveling off the top with the back of a knife.
Although you can handle this dough without fear of making it tough, try to keep your hands off as much as possible. You don’t want to work the fat into the flour mixture so much that it loses its ability to create layers.
Xanthan gum and guar gum are usually necessary when making gluten-free pastries and pie crusts. Gluten provides the critical structure to create flaky layers. Without it, you need something to make the dough pliable.
You can use any type of fat you’d like. Butter adds great flavor to pie crusts and pastries. Solid shortening makes for a tender pastry and works well for most recipes. Lard, that long-vilified fat, is actually pretty good for you as far as fats go. Its fat is mostly monounsaturated (the good kind). Leaf lard makes the flakiest pastry you’ll ever eat.
It’s easiest to roll out pie crust between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. Just tear off two sheets of the paper and rub your work surface with a damp paper towel so the paper doesn’t slip around as you work. Sandwich the dough between the paper and start rolling.
Roll from the center of the ball of dough out to the edges. Turn the dough around and roll as evenly as you can, making sure there aren’t any spots that are thicker or thinner than others. You can get rings to put around your rolling pin that ensure an even thinness.
Your crusts will have a better final shape if you chill the dough before rolling it out and then chill the shaped pie crust before filling it and baking. Give those fats a chance to solidify so they can create the layers you want. You can chill the crust in the fridge for at least an hour or put it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
After you master pie crust, branch out! Look for pie recipes and make them with your delicious, gluten-free, flaky, and tender pie crust. Experiment with different flour blends and enjoy the feel of watching dough come to life.