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who needs gluten when there is pumpkin pie like this?

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18 November 2006

who needs gluten when there is pumpkin pie like this?

pumpkin pie spice, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

It is easy. I promise you. It is easy to make pie.

Pie intimidates people. I wrote about this last year, so there is no need to repeat myself. Just trust me, especially those of you who have never made a pie from scratch — you can do it. Gluten-free or not, you can make pie.

There are a dozen different recipes for gluten-free pie crust that work. I like this one best, just from my own taste. But it's easy to play with this one. Instead of white rice flour, try some brown rice flour. If you don't like sorghum, or can't find it, I'm certain that teff or amaranth would work in its place. Tapioca flour might even work better than potato starch, but yesterday I had potato starch at hand. Play. Don't worry about making mistakes. Contrary to Hallmark, Norman Rockwell, and Martha Stewart belief systems inculcated into us, your pie does not have to look perfect. It just has to taste good.

This one tastes good.

Now, if this is your first gluten-free Thanksgiving, and you are daunted by the idea of making gluten-free crust from scratch, there are plenty of alternatives.

Gluten-Free Pantry makes a Perfect Pie Crust mix that I can attest to, since I used it for the first six months after my celiac diagnosis. (Then, my food scientist inclinations took over and I stopped using mixes.)

Mona's Gluten-Free has a great bread roll and pastry mix that makes fantastic pie crusts. As well, the inimitable Mona has her own blog now, which includes a great post on a gluten-free Thanksgiving. (As well, she has an incredible photograph of some gorgeous gingerbread men that is making my mouth water!)

Crave crust

And, for another option, in case you just don't want to bake at all, there is Crave Bakery. Now, for purposes of integrity, I have to tell you that Cameo, the president of the company, sent me one of their pumpkin tarts overnight the other day, just so I could taste it. That's a photograph of its crust, just above these words. However, I am sent masses of gluten-free food for free, and most of it I never mention. This pie is good. The fact that it is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free makes it even more astounding. The crust is flaky, the pumpkin filling dense with taste, and the whole pie a beautiful sight. Crave goods are available in Whole Foods on the west coast. However, if you live somewhere else and really need one of these tarts, I am sure that Cameo could send you one!

Still, I have to say, it's worth a shot, even if you are scared. Go ahead. Make a pie.

My favorite gluten-free pie crust, adapted from Rebecca Reilly's Gluten-Free Baking

This recipe is only slightly adapted from the excellent, essential book, Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly. Her recipes work, and they work well. Even more important, they aren't just content to be gluten-free and barely palatable, as so many of the earliest books on gluten-free cooking were. These recipes rock. I have made half a dozen foods out of this, and not a single person has been able to guess that these are gluten-free. If you don't own this book, and you have baking experience (it's clearly not for sheer beginners) you should buy it, now.

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon strong cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon from World Spice Merchants)
8 tablespooons (or, one stick) cold butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 ice-cold water, or enough to make the dough stick together

Mix together all the dry ingredients, including the sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into little pieces, about 1/2-inch thick and drop the pieces into the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork, meld the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter has crumbled into pea-sized pieces.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Drop the egg and apple cider vinegar in, then stir them in, gently, with a fork, stirring from the center out. Once they are incorporated into the dry ingredients, slowly drizzle the ice-cold water into the mixture, a little at a time, then stirring to see if it has become dough yet. You do not want this dough to be too wet. Add water only it all coheres together.

At this point, drop the ball of dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. (Prepare this ahead, unless you want to wipe dough off the box of parchment paper later!) Place another piece of parchment paper, the same size, on top of the dough. Gently, smoosh the dough outward, equally in all directions, until it is a thick, round cake of dough, about the size of a pie plate.

Refrigerate the ball of dough, for as long as you can stand. Ideally, you would prepare the dough in the evening and refrigerate overnight. Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least twenty minutes before you want to work with it.

Leave the dough in the parchment-paper sandwich and roll it out. By rolling it, gently, between the pieces of parchment paper, you will not need to add more flour to the mix. Roll it out as thin as you can, then strip the top piece of parchment paper off the dough. Gently, lay your favorite pie plate on top of the dough, then flip the whole thing over. The dough should sag into the pie plate. You can crimp the edges at this point. If some of the dough falls off the sides, don't worry. Simply re-attach the pieces to the crust-to-be by pressing in with your fingers.

You can pre-bake the pie crust, if you like. With this pumpkin pie, however, I just pour the pumpkin filling directly in and bake it immediately. It works well.

Oh, and for the filling? Just the recipe off the Libby's pumpkin puree can. It works every time.


At 9:35 PM, Anonymous beastmomma said...

How delightful! I wish that I could have a big piece RIGHT NOW!

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for a shout out for the Libby's recipe! It's got the best mix of spices of any pumpkin pie I've ever had. Don't use that pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice! Don't do it! Just don't! :D Susan

At 11:04 AM, Blogger astillac said...

Yay! I'll try to make it today... right now, actually! I think I've got everything on hand!

Crave has fulfilled my desire for a moist, rich chocolate cake when I simply can't wait any longer. I've yet to master the creation of such a cake, so I get Crave as a rare treat for me.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for such a wonderful blog! I am really new to a very restrictive diet (3 weeks in). I really love to cook and bake, and was really hating to miss out on pumkin pie this Thanksgiving. Now, thanks to you, I think I will have fun experimenting and hope for a wonderful finish to our Thanksgiving meal. You pictures on your blog are awesome and very inspiring. They make it all seem so much more personable. It's so encouraging to know others are walking a similar path, and doing it so joyfully! Thank you! Thank you!

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to make this crust right now. Thanks for posting the recipe. I have to use Ener-G egg replacer, so I hope it works the same.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger chrisd said...

That sounds like a great crust. I can't do your pumpkin pie because of dairy problems.

But if anyone asks you for a dairy free pumkin pie filling, go to Imagine Foods; they have a great one!

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Luminescense said...

I'm so glad that there is an alternative to those prepackaged pie mixes. I had a bad experience with the Gluten Free Pantry version (ugh). As someone who's been baking pies from scratch since I was 16, this was the thing that bummed me out most about being gluten free. Now that I know I don't have to rely on sub-par mixes, I am thrilled to bake the family's Thanksgiving pies this year!

Thank you Shauna!!!

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Kathryn said...

Do you think I could double this for a traditional apple pie (actually the Cook's Illustrated apple-cranberry pie)?

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

I am really excited to try this recipe but have been searching all weekend, unfruitfully, for the sorghum flour. I live in Brooklyn and am willing to go anywhere in ny or bk to find it, have been calling everywhere and absolutely no luck. Any advice? Besides mail order? I am in charge of pie making for thanksgiving. Thanks.

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can find sorghum flour in any Indian food store. It might be labled "Juwar flour." But where do I find SWEET rice flour?

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

I feel silly for asking this -- but does this recipe make one crust or two? And with regard to the last item on the ingredient list -- do you mean 1/4 cup? Thanks.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Shauna said...


That's not a silly question. I can't believe I didn't put that. This makes one pie. And yes, that is 1/4 cup. Although you have to use your sense and dribble in the water until it feels done.

Good luck!

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Mickie in Queens said...

My mom made the gluten-free pie crust from Wild Oats last night and it was phenomenal! It seems very similar to yours. Sadly, it is hard to find on the internet now because Whole Foods took over Wild Oats, and the Whole Foods recipe is NOT good. You can still find the Wild Oats recipe on

1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening or Wild Oats Organic Unsalted Butter, chilled
1 Wild Oats Large Egg, cold
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together rice and tapioca flour, potato and cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt into a mixing bowl.

Cut cold shortening or butter into dry ingredient. Blend with a pastry cutter until butter in incorporated into eh dry ingredients.

The dough should hold together when squeezed. Beat egg with vinegar and mix into dough.

Form dough into a ball with your hands. Add a little tapioca flour if the dough is too sticky. Roll out the dough between to sheets of wax paper. The dough should be about 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter than the pie plate.

Peel one sheet of wax paper away from dough. Place pie curst in pan. Remove top sheet of wax paper. Trim excess dough and crimp edges to form a decorative border.

Happy Holidays
a newly wheat-free woman

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Library Lindsay said...

I'd never made a pie before, but I wanted to try this recipe for my mother because she's been having a lot of stomach problems lately and the doctor told her to lay off the wheat and gluten to see if that made a difference. Of course, the holidays are the worst time to have to bind yourself to some restricting diet. So anyway, I tried it and it turned out great! Thanks for the recipe :)

I found your blog through my friend Olivia's food blog "Anything But Spaghetti"--take a look!

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous In solidarity with my gluten free wife said...

I'm going to try this out, but I want to share what I currently do: I use a basic graham cracker crust recipe but instead of graham crackers I substitute gluten-free cookies. It's so simple. The gluten-free ginger snaps in particular make the most wonderful crust for a pumpkin pie ever, you have to try it:

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar optional if cookies aren't sweet enough
6 tblsp butter
cinnamon or other spice optional

pre-bake at 350 for 8-10min

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Debby said...

You can find SWEET RICE FLOUR in Oriental and Asian food stores. Happy baking!

At 9:09 AM, Blogger nini said...

Thank you so much!! I am not a pie fan myself but when fall approaches one has to have pumpkin pie. I will try it.

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Potato Starch is a lot clumpier than, say, rice flour. When measuring Potato Starch, do you pack it in the cup so there are no gaps? Or do you spoon it into the cup loosely and level it with a flat edge? Thanks!

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Barb said...

Heads up on the Durkee Brand of pumpkin pie spice blend, it contains flour! Keep reading labels.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Bunny Trails said...

Honestly, I swear, I would not have enjoyed Thanksgiving w/o finding your site! THANK YOU!

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Frances said...

Does anybody know how this recipe works with ener-g egg replacer, earth balance spread instead of butter, and honey instead of sugar in the filling?

In addition to gluten free I am also cane-sugar and dairy free, (I know, it's a sad story!!) My intuition and experience tells me the butter substitute and honey would work, but I'm concerned about the egg replacer as I haven't tried it yet in baked goods. It works in waffles though!! :)

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Debbie said...

I've made this pie crust several times now, and I don't think I will find another I like as well or that performs as well. It really helps for me to get my hands in the dough after adding most of the water and forming it together. That's when I can tell I've got enough liquid in it. I wasn't so great with rolling it out, so I plunked it down in the pie plate, formed it up the sides and crimped my edge as usual. I'm going to make an Alton Brown quiche in it tonight.
Thanks-from the bottom of my heart and my pie plate,

At 7:13 AM, Blogger jules said...

is there a substitute for the vinegar? i want to make a pie for my mother for thanksgiving and she has multiple allergies including gluten and vinegar. eggs and dairy are ok for her.



At 12:09 PM, Blogger Tango Goddess said...

Is there a substitute for the sorghum flour? There's nothing like that here in Argentina. I have everything else.

I've also made a simple, sorta bisquity crust with just white rice flour, butter, and water. Nothing out of this world, but it worked. I'll be trying yours!

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often make the pumpkin filling as a custard without the crust in individual ramkins, just pour, bake and eat!

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Charis said...

I just found your blog - my BF can't eat gluten (found out not too long ago) so I can't wait to try out recipes :)

At 6:10 PM, Blogger AmyRuth said...

Can you make the crust, roll it and put it in the pie pan and then freeze it before you blind bake? Often I freeze the unbaked crust so that I can do ahead.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much... I'm going to try this for my MIL who misses out on so much during the holidays... I have a cranberry/pecan pie that she loves and this will allow her to enjoy and no one else will know!

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous gluten free since 2000 said...

You can get Sorghum flour at many natural food stores or the better supermarkets. Is the a "Wild by nature" or Fairway in Brooklyn? I go to the one in Plainview. Just look for the Bobs Red Mill product display, it comes in a 2 lb bag and is only about $3.00

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Thanks so much - that crust was fantastic, and I was able to stretch it out to make 2 pies. It was my first time making pumpkin pie from scratch, and though time consuming, it most certainly will not be my last!

At 6:17 AM, Blogger nidea said...

You write "1/2 sorghum flour" -- is that 1/2 C? I'm trying this for the first time today and it would stink if you really meant 1/2 t!

At 9:47 AM, Blogger peteathome said...

Great recipe. But I think the recipe makes enough for two bottom-crust-only pies or one two-crust pie.

Just made up another recipe. This time we used 3/4 "healthy" shortening and 1/4 butter. This made the crust flakier.

We used half of the recipe for pumpkin pie and the other half for a top-crust pot pie ( using up our Thanksgiving leftovers).

Boy were these good. The whole family loved them even though I'm the only gluten-free member. I just ate the last of the pot pie for lunch. Yum.


At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Tracy said...

This was great!! I'm going to try it with butter crisco next time to see how it comes out. Also it'd be super easy to leave out the sugar for a savory crust. It rolled like normal pie crust, it held up like normal pie crust, it tasted like a GOOD pie crust. I'm extremely excited.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger peteathome said...

I should have mentioned that I reduced the sugar to just a teaspoon and left out the cinnamon so I could use it for both the savory pot pie and the pumpkin pie. I also reduced the vinegar to slightly less than 1 TBS - 2 TBS was too noticeable in taste and smell.

I agree with Tracy - this makes not just an acceptable crust but a GOOD crust.

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous diabetes said...

nice post..ived been looking for news and articles about diabetes and
sugar free recipes as well and this one is perfect! thanks for sharing
this one out...

At 7:13 PM, Blogger alexis said...

This was really good and my family who is usually quite snobby about my gross gluten free concoctions couldn't tell which one was poison and which one was gluten free. Yay!

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Sarah of Oregon said...

I want to thank you for posting the pie crust recipe on your website! My husband and I made a gluten-free pumpkin pie and brought it to our family thanksgiving because we were worried that my sister, she is celiac, wouldn't be able to have desert with the family. Turns out she was clever to bring some gluten-free cookies, but enjoyed the pie immensely and appreciated the gesture. Thank you again!

At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Sujan Patricia said...

I bet it tasted so delicious :) I'm sure it'll be a big hit with the kids! Thank you so much for sharing!!

At 6:55 AM, Blogger allosuzy said...

I Shauna
great site!
I am a real French Canadian sweet tooth - we grew up putting sugar on everything[fried eggs breadslices you get the idea.]I will definitely try the gluten free piecrust as I have a guest coming for the big church picnic this Saturday who can't eat gluten Sounds great.will let you know how it turned out . maybe with Ontario peaches and blackberries ......

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I am looking for a gluten-free pie crust recipe for a savory pie (made with leeks). So, it shouldn't have cinnamon or sugar, and maybe not even sweet rice flour. I tried a recipe for such a pie crust and it tasted like cardboard with a very weird consistency. I want to try your pumpkin pie this year but still need the savory crust recipe. Do you know of one?

At 1:27 PM, Blogger christina said...

Does anyone know if it's possible to substitute coconut oil for the butter? I need to make this dairy free.

At 5:46 AM, Blogger Peter said...

Christina - I think coconut oil has too low a melting point - you'd end up with an oil crust that is crunchy ( I've tried this). If you refrigerate the oil so it is solid, and also the flour so it won't melt the oil too quickly, and then work the cold oil into the cold flour it might work.

I've gotten very good results using some of the vegan non-saturated shortening sticks like "earth balance".

At 11:57 AM, Blogger christina said...

Thanks, Peter. Some good thoughts. I will try!

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all these great recipes. My mom has a severe form of celiac disease. I will try some of these recipes at Thanksgiving!

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I didn't see an answer to the question of how much sorghum flour to use?

At 4:33 PM, Blogger AgainstTheGrains said...

I used your pie crust recipe to make a fantastic pumpkin pie. It was great! I changed a few things though to add some fiber in it. Instead of 1 cup rice flour I used 3/4 and then 1/4 cup sesame seeds. I also added 1/8 cup physillium (sp?) husk. Then used 1 1/4 sticks of butter. It was phenomenal! I have more recipes too..

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Just a quick note to say thanks for this awesome recipe! I made it three times during the Thanksgiving weekend and it was wonderful, each time. I smiled each time I read, "...don't worry.." in the recipe--whether it was 5:30am or 5:30pm when I was making it. Happy holidays to you and your family! Have fun!

At 10:59 AM, Blogger sarah said...

Help! Does anyone know how I can find Mona's french baguette mix? I would like to purchase some to serve at my restaurant, it is not available locally. I live in New Hampshire. Any Help would be greatly appreciated. By the way, this is a great website and has been most helpful when it comes to handling our celiac customers and their needs. Thank you. Buon Salute

At 10:02 AM, Blogger PERMANENT POSIES said...

We are new to the Celiac's World of no glutten. My daughter is a Celiac. Her absolutely favorite thing is pumpkin pie. I will try this crust.

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Clover said...

I'm at least months, maybe years late on this post, but I just discovered your blog today. We've been wheat free around here for over a year, and the only thing that has been truly difficult for me is pie crust. I just don't make pie anymore, which makes me very sad, because I love pie. I've had a GF Pantry pastry mix in my cupboard for 6 months, but in my heart I'm deeply opposed to not making pie crust from scratch, so there it sits. I've tried several recipes for GF pie crust,including the Recbecca Reilly one, but none of them ever tasted good enough to warrant the hassle they were to make. I don't think I like the vinegar; can that be skipped or substituted with lemon juice? I don't really know its function in the crust. I also can't use butter, since the kid who is allergic to wheat is also allergic to milk, but I think (I hope) I may have finally found a suitable butter substitute. Are there any other posts I should read for tips regarding pie crusts? Thanks and great blog, by the way. I've been neglecting my child to PBS this morning to browse through your archives.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Shauna said...

Clover, I'm so happy you found the blog and like it. As much as I thought this pie was good when I made it, I really love the pie crust by ratios we made up in November of this past year:

It's easy, once you have a kitchen scale and start throwing in weights. Since then, I've changed it a bit again. You'll learn how to play with it too, which is a blast.


At 6:31 PM, Blogger Dancing_Jester said...

Hello! My boyfriend is GF and of course he loves pumpkin pie. He's not crazy about the taste of the sorghum flour, though. Would soy flour work in it's place?

Also I noticed that you've not listed xanthan gum in your recipe. Does this recipe not need it?


At 2:01 AM, Blogger sherryd0049 said...

For sorgum flour you can try Whole Foods Store or try ''

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous sonyalea said...

I have just discovered that I'm allergic to rice and wheat and yeast, and dozens of other foods. I wonder if I could make this recipe with kamut, millet, quinoa and sorghum flours? I'm so thankful for the range of flours out there now, and for people like you, helping me explore.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Allie said...

Everyone raves about this recipe on Twitter, and I was looking forward to joining them! But I attempted this recipe last week and it didn't work out. I've made pie crusts before (in ye olde gluten-eating days) but this is so different (and I'm fairly new to GF baking) so I'm not quite sure where I went wrong. The end result was that it was way too dry. I added almost double the water called for in the recipe and still feared that it was too dry, but I forced it into a ball and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, when I tried to roll it out, it just fell apart. Should I have just added more water? Or was it something else? I made the recipe exactly as written, except that I didn't have sweet rice flour so I used tapioca flour instead.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger julia said...

I love you, Shauna! I´ve only been gluten free for two years -- what an incredible relief!! And what a wooden-headed jerk my gastroenterologist was! I developed my own recipe for muffins, free of xanthan gum, have made a cookie or two, and a cake (a génoise that turned out just fine with white rice flour and no other alterations) but I´m only starting to get serious about baking again. I can tell from your recipe and your beautiful photos that this recipe will work and that I´ll be revisiting this site many times. And thank you for recommending Reilly´s book since I was wondering where to start just this afternoon. You´re a godsend, though, thank you for being such a generous blogger! -- Julia

At 3:24 PM, Blogger brookejl said...

Thank you,

I was just diagnosed yesterday with a severe Wheat allergy,one week before Christmas.

While I am mourning all the wonderful recipes handed down for generations,I still want to have my holiday baking day with my son.

Do you know of a sugar cookie, or custard pie?

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Danielle Hunt said...

Hi, I would like to sub out the white rice flour and to brown rice flour and wonder if it would be the same weight. I much prefer baking my scale. I would weigh it myself but I do not have white rice in my house. Thanks!


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