27 November 2008

GF Tips: Pie Crust

If you just want a recipe, go here. Below are my comments on the recipe.

I've been using Bette Hagman's "Vinegar Pastry" for quite a while, and I wound up making quite a few modifications to it, primarily because they make the dough easier to handle. See, we're trying to get GF flours to stick together and roll out nicely, even though it's the gluten that makes regular flour stick together. Xanthan gum only gets you so far. Eggs help, too, but they can only do so much. The key to making the recipe work for me was when I, for no reason that I can remember, replaced some of the "shortening" with olive oil.

First off, I can't actually use shortening, as it all seems to be made from soybeans these days, and soybean oil makes me ill. Same problem with margarine. So I'd been using real butter to make the crust, and it just didn't work very well. The year that I replaced a third of the butter with olive oil, though, the dough was suddenly manageable. Here is a site with (almost) the original recipe... I may have to try using featherlight flour instead of separately measuring the separate flours, but that's for next year.

So my primary modifications are to add extra eggs (I usually go for three) and to use 1/2 c butter + 1/4 c olive oil. I played around with that this year, decreasing the butter a bit to see if I could get away with it. Answer: not quite. I wound up having to re-mix and add some of the missing butter back in, as the first crust I rolled crumbled. Other modifications: I usually need more ice water than the recipe calls for, and I find that the dough is much, much easier to handle if you ignore the instructions to refrigerate it. Perhaps if I could actually use shortening, the refrigeration would help; I don't know.

The final tip? Get a pie crust bag. Yes, I know, the books say that wax paper/saran wrap/ etc. also works. Unless you've got double wide wax paper or saran wrap, it really doesn't. What I've got is no wider than my pie plates, and you need at least some excess.

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