Get ready for a game-changing, flaky, gluten free whole grain pie crust that doesn’t suck!
Waaaaay back, I created a really dorky project called “The QT Pi(e) Project.” On “Pi Day” (3/14/10), we delivered small pies via bicycle, to homes in various Pittsburgh neighborhoods, which included some portion of the number π (3.1415) in their address. Through the project and some followup events, I became heavily associated with pie baking, with relative success, but truth be told, PIE BAKING SUCKS!
Pie guide after pie guide will tell you, with great emphasis, “do not overwork the dough,” but where are all those pie guides when the liquid is spent, and the dough resembles a swath of desert? CRICKETS! The whole process puts my perfectionist self on edge because all I want is to deliver the flaky pie crust that friends and family (and sometimes complete strangers) expect, and I want it to be whole grain. That’s challenging enough, but then, you want to make a gluten free whole grain pie crust? Forget about it!
But that’s where Alanna, of The Bojon Gourmet, comes into play! Though I personally don’t have any gluten issues, intolerances and severe allergies are on the rise, so when it comes time to sharing, I tend to bake gluten-free desserts, especially around the holiday season. There are numerous recipes out there for gluten-free baked goods, but a shocking majority rely on cup-for-cup flours, which are typically made of bleached flour equivalents. I want the grains!
That’s why Alanna’s book, Alternative Baker, appealed to my grain-obsessed side. I buy so few cookbooks, but her book tops my shelves. She relies on the powers of whole grains, as well as her extensive pastry knowledge, to create wholesome recipes that actually work. She even created a gluten free whole grain pie crust that turns out flaky, but most importantly, she breaks down the steps in a way that made me understand and enjoy pie making for the first time.
This gluten free whole grain pie crust became the base for a pumpkin pie variation, which I’ll be sharing soon, but this crust merited its own post, so bookmark it, and check out Alanna’s more detailed step-by-step instructions (and everything else she makes!), then tune back in for the filling because it’s a good one!
Gluten Free Whole Grain Pie Crust
About this Recipe: This gluten free whole grain pie crust is wholesome, a little earthy and still flaky. This is a more involved process, but that’s pie crust in general, so don’t be scared away. I cut the sugar from the crust and added pumpkin spice, but otherwise, I followed The Bojon Gourmet’s process to the T!
3/4 cup GF oat flour
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons buckwheat flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
2½ Tablespoons finely ground chia seed
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
8 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (preferably European-style), sliced ¼” thick
4 Tablespoons chilled buttermilk
4 Tablespoons of ice water (from 1 cup ice cubes filled with cool water)
Sift the oat and buckwheat flours, the cornstarch, tapioca flour, ground chia seed (I use my Magic Bullet to grind the chia seeds), pumpkin pie spice and salt into a large bowl, then whisk to combine.
Scatter the butter pieces over the top, and work with a pastry blender or your fingers to combine until the mixture resembles gravel, with lots of butter chunks the size of large peas.
Stir together the 4 Tablespoons of ice water and the chilled buttermilk, and drizzle the mixture into the flour mixture 1 Tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a rubber spatula to moisten evenly. Add just enough water for the dough to hold together when you give it a squeeze, and add it directly to the dry floury bits that like to hang out on the bottom of the bowl (you may need all 8 tablespoons of the liquid mix).
Working The Dough:
Knead the dough in the bowl 10-20 times to bring it together.
Dump the dough out onto the counter and fraisage by dragging portions of the dough across the counter with the heel of your hand (this makes for a flakier dough). Either way, gather the dough up into a ball (a metal bench scraper helps if using the fraisage method) wrap it loosely in plastic wrap, and flatten it into a disk. Chill the dough 30 minutes.
Optionally, for extra flake, roll, fold, roll, or “turn” the dough:
On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about ¼” thick. Fold it in thirds like you’re folding a letter, then roll up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for 30 minutes. Optionally, repeat this step once more.
Shape the Crust:
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12″ circle, dusting the dough lightly with oat flour flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. Ease the dough into a 9″ glass pie plate, fit it into the corners, and trim it to a 1″ overhang. (Save the scraps to patch any tears in the dough post-parbaking.) Fold the overhang of the crust under, and flute the crust by pressing it between the thumb of one hand and the index finger and thumb of the other hand. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with the tines of a fork. Chill the crust for 20 minutes, then freeze it for at least 20 minutes, until solid.
Parbake The Crust
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400ºF. If you have a baking stone, put it on the rack. Place the frozen crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Line it with a piece of parchment paper, and fill to the top with pie weights, dry beans, or clean pennies, pressing the weights into the sides and corners of the crust.
Bake the crust for 15-30 minutes (shorter for a metal pan, longer for a glass pan), until the dough will hold its shape when you lift off the parchment. Carefully remove the weights and parchment and bake until the bottom is dry and lightly golden, about 8-12 minutes longer (for a parbaked crust) or until deeply golden, 15-20 minutes (for a fully baked crust). Use the saved scraps of dough to patch any holes, cracks, or tears in the dough, baking for a few more minutes post-patching.