Monday, November 24, 2014

Gluten Free Pie Crust

It is night and my shadow is cast on the front crust.  

Holidays are coming and I don't have to live without cake and pies any longer! I haven't finished experimenting with the cake yet but I have reached an "I got it!" on the pie crust.

Since I had to become gluten free, I had given up on even trying several techniques that I had learned at ECU in Family and Comsumer Science.  Back then (not saying when), it was referred to as a BS in Home Economics. I could roll out a perfect pie crust but that pie crust was an art of wonderful gluten.  Gluten is the substance that helps made the dough pliable and hold together.

Oh, how I missed making pecan chocolate pie, savory chicken pot pie, quiche with a crust, fresh strawberry pie, chocolate chess pie, and variations of pumpkin pie. All that has changed since I spent a weekend trying out different gluten free pie crust recipes.  I wouldn't ordinally spend that short time developing a recipe, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up and I will not be spending another holiday watching other people eat my favorite dishes, which I can't eat.

The Kitchen Laboratory - Experimenting with Pie Crust Recipes

The first recipe I tried was a pie crust using amaranth flour and it was pretty bad. If I had checked the reviews first, I would have not tried it. The crust actually makes a cracking sound when it breaks. The earthy taste is much too strong. My daughter said it tasted like earth worms -- that is pretty earthy, but how would she know the taste of earth worms. Hmmmm.

Next came a gluten free pie crust recipe from Martha Stewart. Some reviewers stated that the butter in the pie crust ran out of the pie pan.  Mine didn't do that but the butter pooled in the middle of the pie pan as the sides of the crust oozed down to the bottom of the pie pan. About half the reviewers had problems with the recipe. I'm not absolutely sure but I believe it has to do with the flour blend used. The recipe doesn't state the flour blend used but most of the gluten free recipes used on Martha's site use Cup4Cup, and that is rice flour based. Since this recipe won't work with my flour blend, I didn't save the recipe. Reviewers ( evidently using rice flour)  have given raving reviews for the recipe. If you use rice flour, you might want to give it a try.

Another pie crust recipe I tried was from the site Simply Gluten Free.  This recipe for pie crust gave me reason to tread on. The sight sells a gluten free flour which is mostly rice flour. I am not a rice flour user. I tried the recipe with with my own flour blend and it worked.  The pie crust was flaky. I would consider using it again. I did use a food processor to make this recipe.  It is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.  If you don't need a sweet dough, leave off the sugar but if using a rice flour, it will help the pie crust brown.

I thought I had finally found a good pie crust dough at Simply Gluten Free. I cleaned up the kitchen and thought I was finished. Then, why I'm not sure, I wouldn't give up with the idea I need the perfect gluten free pie crust.  I found a pie crust recipe at Bob's Red Mill site. It had 78 - that's right - 78 positive reviews for the recipe. The flour blend suggested for use in the recipe had no rice. So I had planned to wait until morning, go to Big Lots and get the Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, as suggested for the recipe.

Since the blend had no rice and my blend was a little similar to Bob's Red Mill, I went back to the kitchen at 9:00 PM and started the recipe. Oh, my gosh, it worked out perfectly! It was so easy to make and it was tasty and flaky. It tasted very simular to the recipe from Simply Gluten Free but it was easier. I didn't use the processor because I had just cleaned it and I didn't want to clean it again at 9:30 PM. A processor, though, can be used to quicky make the dough. It took no time at all to blend the flour and butter with a pastry cutter and roll it out on floured wax paper.

I had been rolling out the doughs on parchment paper but I found it easier to roll on wax paper.  The wax paper doesn't seem to absorb as much moisture and peels off easier. Still needs to be rolled with lots of gluten free flour. Am I a happy baker? :-D

I have include the flour blend I used in the pie crust. I developed this blend by reading this site of Gluten Free Girl. I used the 70% whole grains and 30% starch rule. I chose not to use the rice flour because of the arsenic and rice flour's high glycemic index. The recipe for the flour blend can be found at the bottom of the post. If you choose not to use my blend, I am not offended.  Get the Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour. It can be used for most all baking.

I won't copy the recipe on this post because you can go to the site to get Bob's Red Mill pie crust recipe by Nancy Sackman.  In my photos, you notice that the pie crust looks darker than the photo at Bob's Red Mill site. The reason for the color differences is in the flour blend. The Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour from Bob's Red mill is bean flour based and mine is whole grained based, which makes a darker dough.  Both are high in protein.

Making the Pie Crust

I went one step further and made a cheddar cheese crust. I added twice the amount of shredded cheddar cheese as compare to the butter.  I then cut both the cheddar cheese and butter into the flour, salt, and a tad of sugar. Next time I make it I'm going to try using extra sharp cheddar cheese. There is only a hint of cheddar cheese taste with sharp cheese. I think that adding more cheese will only make the dough more oily and the extra sharp will help with the flavor.

The orange color is from the cheddar cheese.

Pour the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, into the flour mixture and toss with a fork until the dough will hold together. Be careful not to add too much water; it will become too sticky. Spoon all the dough into a zippered bag. (Gluten free dough does not come together as easily as gluten dough). Once the dough is in the bag, it is much easier to form the dough into a disk inside the bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  (It can stay refrigerated up to three days). It needs refrigerated time for the moisture to distribute throughout the dough. It takes gluten free dough more time to for the moisture to be absorbed than gluten dough. Before rolling the dough let it sit out of the fridge for 10 minutes to come to room temperature.

Sometimes it appears as if the dough won't come together.
Just coax it gently and it will if it has enough liquid.
This dough surprisingly rolls out beautifully. The dough needs a lot of gluten free flour between the layers of wax paper. Place the flour on the first layer of wax paper and lightly move the dough disk over the flour.  Lightly dust the top of the disk and place another piece of wax paper on the disk.  Roll the dough from the center of disk out to edge, turning the paper 1/4 turn after rolling. Repeat rolling and turning until the dough is rolled half the size you want it. Flip the paper and slightly peel the paper away from the dough. If needed, lightly dust the dough with flour by rubbing your hand in the flour and then lightly rubbing the dough. Finish rolling out the dough from center to edge of paper until dough is about 1/8-in thick and the size you want it.

Wax paper is pulled back.  Flour hand and rub on dough and 
cover with the wax paper again.  Continue rolling dough.

After rolling, peel the top paper off the dough. Turn the dough over on top of the pie pan and gently pull the paper (which was the bottom paper) off the dough.  Gently help the dough fall into the pie pan and gently push the dough into the bottom of pie pan.  Press gently into the sides. If using a regular pie tin, cut the dough 1/2-in to 1-in from the side and roll the dough under to make a decorative edge. This site and this site show how to make several different, beautiful decorative edges.

Sometimes the dough may tear. It can be mended by pressing the
dough back together carefully. The dough is very forgiving.
After rolling out the dough for the first two mini pie pans, there was dough left over.  Not wanting to throw out the dough, I pressed the dough into a third pan.  Imagine -- the dough can be pressed into the pie pans.  When pressing the dough in the pan, the dough is not as smooth and uniform as the rolled crust, but it can be done.

The dough in the front mini pan has been pressed into the pan rather than rolled.

I am so glad that I finally got the courage to make pie dough again.  It wasn't as difficult as I imagined it to be.  I thought a gluten free pie crust would be impossible -- but it isn't.  This pie dough is high in protein, whether using the 70% Whole Grain flour blend or Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour.

Don't or can't use grains? Then try this recipe at Elana's Pantry paleo piecrust or this site that has 10 paleo pie crust recipes, stated to be remarkable. I'll try those out -- but that is for another day. I'll post here when I give them a try.


Linda's 70% Whole Grain Flour Blend (notice the cup amounts - another
reason for measuring with a scale)

70% Whole Grain Flour Blend GF


200 g oat flour (1 2/3 c)          (Of oat, millet & quinoa, can use 350 g of one)
50 g millet flour (1/2 c)                        
100 g quinoa flour (1c)
100 g sorghum flour (3/4 c + 3tb)
50 g bean (fava & northern) (1/2 c)
50 g corn flour (masa harina) (1/4 c + 2tb)
50 g amaranth flour (1/4c + 2tb)
50 g teff flour (1/4c + 2tb)
50 g buckwheat flour (1/4c + 2tb)


100g tapioca flour (3/4 c)
100 g corn starch (3/4c + 3tb)
100 g potato starch (3/4c + 2tb)
One cup of blend = 108-117 grams


"Easy As Pie Crust (Gluten Free)." Bob's Red Mill. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

"How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports." How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

"How to Make a Gluten-free Whole-grain Flour Mix - Gluten Free Girl and the Chef." Gluten Free Girl and the Chef RSS. N.p., 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

"The Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough." The Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.<>

Disclosure statement:  I have not received compensation for any products mentioned or used in this post.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Make It Sourdough - Gluten Free Pumpkin Quick Bread

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips & Pecans

It's getting near the holidays.  One of the smells of the holidays I like is pumpkin pie seasoning.  I can almost smell it in my mind. On the spice shelf, I found a box of the seasoning.  It came from my mother's house when I cleaned out her house to sell it. The can was a little old and had a price of 49. My mother made quite a few pumpkin pies in her lifetime and I am almost sure that she must have refilled the little can at some point, maybe several times. I was not sure whether the pumpkin pie spice in the can was gluten free and not knowing -- I threw it out. To make sure my spice mix was gluten free, I made my own with 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

I found another pumpkin spice mix recipe that included 1/4 teaspoon cardamon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest rather than the mace.  No matter how it is made, the smell is wonderful!  Bet you can smell it also.

The spice mix can be used in pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bread pudding.  Sprinkle it over root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash or butternut squash.  It can be the wonderful spice in a streusel topping.  Did I forget the coffee or latte?  How about in pumpkin pancakes and waffles? I read a brownie recipe that included pumkin pie spice. I'm guessing you can think of other uses for this spice mix.

Before I concoct a gluten free recipe, I usually cut the recipe in half for experimental purposes. Gluten free ingredients are more expensive than regular baking ingredients; therefore, if the recipe doesn't work, I will be throwing out fewer ingredients.  From there, adjustments can be made easier and cheaper, if they are necessary. When experimenting on this gluten free recipe, I made 12 muffins (half the recipe), rather than two loaves.

Are quick bread and muffins the same?  Sometimes -- but the baking temperature and cooking times are a little different. The Pro Baker Group from King Arthur Flour suggests baking the muffins at 400℉ for 15-20 minutes and the quick bread at 375℉ for a longer time, depending on the size of the loaf pan: the 3"x5" for 35-45 minutes, 8"x4" for 45-55 and the 9"x5" for 40-50 minutes. They also suggest that the amount of oil might be different, with more oil for the muffins.  I think more oil is used to keep them from drying out quickly.  A sourdough recipe of quick bread will take a little longer to bake because the batter is a little wetter.

Experimenting with substitution of applesauce for oil will come later.  Usually only a fourth of the butter is substituted; more causes the product to become dry. Suggestions for this substitution can be found at this site.

 I never seem to find the perfect recipe I need to compensate for gluten-free and low sugar.  So I have to experiment.  I found a sourdough quick bread recipe at King Arthur Flour, which wasn't gluten free, low sugar nor sourdough but there were good ideas for ratio of ingredients. If you don't need to eat gluten free, give that recipe a try. You just might find it to be your favorite quick bread recipe.

 I found another recipe at Cultures for Health, also not gluten-free and low sugar but it was sourdough. I found some ideas that will help in formulating a recipe for gluten free and low sugar quick bread. Remember from this post on sourdough that sourdough bread is good for you and better for a diabetic because sourdough "anything" has a lower glycemic index.

A gluten free sour dough starter can be made as instructed in my recipe at Make It Sourdough - Gluten Free Starter.  I have been able to keep that starter alive and working well since I made it almost a year ago.  I even preserved some of it through a drying process.  Using this sourdough starter, I made the following gluten free pumpkin muffins and quick bread.  The recipe turned out great. Even my grandson ate one of the muffins and he is an extremely picky eater.  The recipe is not sugar free but low sugar. I believe that some type of sugar is needed for tenderness of the bread. The sweetness for this bread comes from honey and Stevia in the Raw.  Other sugar substitutes could be used or if sugar is ok in your recipe, use whatever sweetener you like.

My gluten free flour blend* (see below) consists of gluten free oat flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and corn flour (masa harina).  Any all-purpose gluten free flour will probably work.  I use Dr. Jean Layton's recipe for seed dust rather than use xanthan gum or any gum because it works and because it is more healthy than the gun. If you like to use xanthan gum, and your gluten free flour blend does not contain it, use 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of the flour.

I make my own gluten flour blends because most commercial gluten free flour blends contain rice flour.  Rice flours, both white and brown, are highly processed and have a high glycemic index.  These are two of the reasons for my not using rice flour.

Now, lets get back to the Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread. Making the sourdough sponge is important for this recipe. The sponge needs at least 7 hours to ferment. During this process, there is a
symbiotic relationship between naturally occurring latobacilli and yeast. The bacteria ferment the sugars that the yeast use to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol (the hooch). The bacteria feeds off the alcohol. The process is a little more scientifically complicated and if you want to know more, go to this site. As a science teacher, I really can get into the process, but I won't bore you with the scientific information.

Sourdough before fermentation & before formation of sponge.
The batter was smoothed with a wet hand.

Sourdough sponge, which has formed a slight dome in 8 hours. Note the cracks in dough.  

The Sourdough Sponge at the end of 12 hours.  Notice the air pockets
in the dough on the side of sponge.The sponge is ready!

Gluten Free Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread

1 1/3 cup active sourdough starter (mine weighs about 205 g/cup)
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup milk of choice or whey (discarded from yogurt) or kefir
2 2/3 cup gluten free flour blend 
2 tablespoons seed dust
1/2 cup butter, melted (or 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
1/4 cup honey
2-4 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 large egg (or egg substitute)
3/4 - 1 teaspoon salt of choice
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/5 teaspoon baking powder

1.  Combine, in a medium glass or ceramic bowl, the sourdough starter, pumpkin puree, milk and gluten free flour blend. Lightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap, even punching holes in the plastic wrap. Let the wild yeast ferment the starter with the other ingredients.  It will take 7-12 hours.  Many times, I heat water in a small glass batter pitcher in the microwave.  I place the bowl of batter on top of the glass batter pitcher and close the microwave door.  Be careful not to turn on the microwave unless you remove the beginning sponge to reheat the water. The sponge will form and air holes will appear in the sponge. Cracks in the top of the sponge will probably form (note the photos of the process).

2.  At the end of the fermentation of the sponge, preheat the oven to 350℉. Prepare one or two loaf pans with butter or cooking spray.  If only one loaf pan is used, prepare a 12-cup regular sized muffin tin with butter or cooking spray or with paper cupcake cups.  

3.  Sprinkle the seed dust over the top of the sponge. All the remaining ingredients should be at room temperature.

4.  Combine the  melted butter, egg, sugar substitute (or sugar) and honey.

5.  In another small bowl, combine salt, pumpkin spice mix, baking soda and the baking powder.  

6.  Thoroughly combine the butter mixture and the sourdough sponge. Then beat in the mixture of dry ingredients. (The batter may bubble a little. That is fine.) Fold in any of the following or combination ingredients: nuts, chocolate chips, raisins currents, or dried fruit.

7.  Fill the loaf pans with the batter or fill one loaf pan and one muffin tin.  If desired at this point, sprinkle with sparkle or coarse crystal sugar on top.  Regular sugar will probably melt and not give a sparkle appearance. (Be careful with the coarse sugars. Even though their ingredients are gluten free, they are sometimes produced on equipment that process wheat and and other common allergens). The only place that I have found gluten-free sprinkles and coarse sugar is this site.

8.  Bake the muffins for 20 minutes and check for doness with a toothpick.  It should not be sticky or wet; a few crumbs may cling to the toothpick but it should be mostly clean.  Check the bread at 40-45 minutes.  If testing with an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the center of the muffin or bread should be at least 190℉ but less than 205℉.

9.  Cool 5 minutes and remove to a rack.  

If a frosting or icing is wanted, let the loaf or muffins completely cool before frosting.  Cream cheese frosting is fantastic on these pumpkin muffins or pumpkin loaf.

Sugar Free Gluten Free Cream Cheese Frosting

    1 1/2 cup cream cheese or 12 oz (1 1/2 cups) (room temp)
    1 1/2 teaspoons butter (room temp)
    1/2  - 3/4 cup sugar or equivalent in xylitol, erythritol, coconut sugar, Splenda, Stevia, Truvia
2 tablespoons milk
1-2 tsp vanilla or other flavoring you like

Great Substitutions in the Cream Cheese Frosting:
The vanilla, milk and sugar can be substituted with 1/2 cup maple syrup. This flavor is good with pumpkin. Lemon zest or orange zest can be added to any flavor. Other additions to the frosting could be coconut, nuts, eggnog, cinnamon-sugar mixture or Nutella.

Cinnamon-"Sugar" Topping:
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl.  In another small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sweetener (such as granulated sugar, xylitol, erythritol, coconut sugar, Splenda, Stevia in the Raw, Stevia, Truvia) with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Dip the top of muffin in the butter and then dip in the cinnamon-"sugar" mixture.

This mixture can be also used for any muffin, cupcake, toast, oatmeal, coffee, sweet potatoes, winter squash and any ingredient which you think would be great. Nutmeg can also be added to the cinnamon mix, if desired

* All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend

1 1/2 (180 g)  cups oat flour
1 cup (123 g) sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups (188 g) cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup (58 g) corn flour (masa harina)

549 / 4.5 =  122 grams/cup

Printable Recipe for Gluten Free Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread


"How to Use Applesauce Instead of Oil When Baking." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 25 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

Layton, Jean McFadden., and Linda Johnson. Larsen. Gluten-free Baking for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. Print.

"Pixie Dust Xanthan Gum Replacer." GlutenFree Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

"Rice Flour & Blood Sugar." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

"Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread." Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

"The Baking Circle Community | King Arthur Flour." The Baking Circle Community | King Arthur Flour. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>