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A Dealmaker's Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

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The deal was I make turkey and pumpkin pie

and they bring me a crate or two of homemade wine

Pumpkin Pie from a *real* pumpkin
Credit: browniesfordinner on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Okay so last week I made a veggie "meatloaf" foolishly thinking that everyone would be happy with it this Thanksgiving.

Then when I caved to the pressure to make a stuffed turkey breast, I was promised some homemade wine.

But, even though I love a good pumpkin loaf, it seems those same turkey-loving members of my family want pumpkin pie.

Well, I hummed and hawed over this latest request - but then they threw in a whole crate of homemade wine or two for my troubles.

As those of you who follow me (okaaay, the three of you and a cat), I avoid anything involving peeling, kneading, or more than two pans to scrub. I'm just really lazy. Oh, but I love homemade organic gluten-free meals. (Ah-hem, cough . . and homemade wine).

pumpkin pies
Credit: liz west on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Thoughts on Store-Bought

What I've discovered about store-bought pumpkin pies (besides the fact that most aren't gluten-free) is that the crust tastes a bit like the aluminum foil they bake them in - or it could be just my taste buds.

The other thing I find is the spices seem "off" to me. Often I find it's either too bland or too heavy on the cloves or something. So, I came up with my spice ratios (which is heavier on the cinnamon and nutmeg). Of course you should go with whatever you like most.

I'm also not keen on metal pie pans and always use glass baking dishes whenever possible. They are more hygienic, dishwasher-safe, and they don't affect the taste of anything you bake in them.

first pie crust made from scratch
Credit: Credit: Liz (perspicacious on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Rose's G-F Pie Crust with Maple Syrup

Makes: 1 pie crust | Prep: 20 mins | Total: 50 mins

Since I buy Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour, I looked up the gluten-free pie crust recipe[1] posted on their website. After reading through the comments as well, I made a few tweaks. 

Note: This recipe makes enough for an 8 to 10-inch pie pan. Be sure to use cold milk.
Hand pies - Blending the dough
1.5 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt (*use 1/2 tsp. salt with unsalted butter)
3/4 tbsp. maple syrup (Grade A Light preferably) OR 1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) salted* butter OR Earth Balance
4 - 6 tbsp. COLD unsweetened evaporated milk OR regular milk OR milk substitute
In a med-large bowl, whisk flour, xanthan gum, and salt together. Add maple syrup (or sugar) and cut in butter (or substitute) with a pastry bender until dough reaches a crumbly mixture. A few pea-sized crumbs are fine, you don't want to overwork the dough.
Add evaporated milk (or other milk substitute) 1 tbsp. at a time while mixing dough until everything is just moistened and form it into a ball. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes if time - it makes rolling out the dough easier.
On a large clean surface, lay out a sheet of wax paper (larger than the size of your pie pan) and place ball of dough in the center of it. Put another sheet of waxed paper on top and roll out dough to fit pie pan. Remove top sheet of waxed paper and invert dough (with bottom sheet) into pie pan. Pinch down or flute edges of crust to prevent it from shrinking away from the sides.
TIP: While I'm preparing my pumpkin pie filling, I leave the wax paper on top of the dough in the pie pan to keep it moist and clean. Just don't forget to remove it before pouring in the filling.
Note: For any pie that requires more than 20 minutes baking time (such as pumpkin or apple), it's not necessary to pre-bake the pie crust. Also, you don't need to poke holes in the crust (only do that for pre-baked crusts).
Pumpkin batter
Credit: nikki (domesticallydelish on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

G-F Low Fat Brandied Pumpkin Pie Filling

Makes: 1 pie worth | Prep: 10 mins | Total: 50 mins

I adapted this recipe[2] from one by Melissa Clark on The Leonard Lopate Show. To make it lower in fat, I swapped out heavy cream and used unsweetened evaporated milk instead. What's more, the (12.5 oz / 370 mL) can of evaporated milk that I opened to make the crust only required 2 - 3 oz worth of it (so I didn't waste any or wonder what to do with the rest).

*Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

**Rum can be used instead of brandy (most rums are gluten-free, the exception is sometimes found in flavoured rums).[4] Oh and I never wonder what to do with the rest of it.


Pumpkin pie!
1 can (14 - 15 oz) organic pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 tbsp. salted* butter, at room temperature (or butter substitute)
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup unsweetened evaporated milk (or milk substitute)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup light brown sugar (gently packed)
3 tbsp. brandy** (Calvados[3] is a gluten-free, apple-based brandy)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Your favourite spice ratio:
The original recipe called for 1.5 tsp. ground ginger and 1 - 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root, 3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt.
I'm not keen on that much ginger, so I used 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice blend. I omitted kosher salt since I use salted butter.
Ensure oven racks are set so your pie will bake in the center and preheat to 400 F (205 C). Note: You will be reducing the heat.
In a large bowl, lightly beat egg and egg yolks. Then add the remaining ingredients - don't forget your favourite spices in the ratios you prefer - and blend until smooth.
Remove wax paper from surface of your pie crust and add pie filling. Smooth the top before baking in oven for 10 mins (at 400 F/205 C). Then reduce heat to 350 F (175 C) and bake for 30 - 40 mins. Allow to sit for 10 mins to cool before serving.
TIP: If at any time the crust appears to be browning too fast, cover with foil or a pie crust protector. You may also reduce heat to 325 F (165 C) if need be.

Ohh, the Aroma of Pie Baking is Intoxicating

Pumpkin Pie!
Credit: Jay Shouldol on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic


Oct 2, 2014 7:48pm
I have had a miserable time with gluten-free pie crust, but I've always pre-baked the crust and most of the recipes I've seen add an egg and vinegar. We like the pre-formed gf crust from the health food store, but they cost $6 here, so I'd really like to learn how to make my own. I'm going to give this a try, as pie is hubby's favorite dessert.
Oct 2, 2014 8:45pm
I hear ya, make sure the milk is cold and don't overwork the dough. Once it "just forms" a ball, stick the bowl in the fridge - with plastic wrap over it - for a good hour. For me, that made all the difference.

Oh and before you roll it out (between two sheets of wax paper), you can also put just a light dusting of gluten-free flour on the wax paper first.

One more thing, if where you live is particularly humid, lean towards adding more xanthan gum rather than less. Hence the range I wrote of 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. - my house is fairly dry and on the cool side, so I can get away with using a pinch.
Mar 9, 2015 7:12am
I tried this awhile ago, but we moved, so I'm a bit late in getting back to you. This went super well. Hubby was so grateful. I need a bit of practise, but this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for pie crust from now on. Next time, I'll try your filling too. Thank you so much for posting this!
Mar 10, 2015 2:38pm
Oh hey, well thank you for taking the time to report back. Pastry is fickle. Temperature and humidity seem to play a part in how it all "holds together" and there's not much you can do about those.

I used to always overwork my dough, now I'm much less of a perfectionist and it turns out better.

Glad to have helped and that your Hubby enjoyed it.

Take good care,
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  1. Nancy Sackman " EASY AS PIE CRUST (GLUTEN FREE)." Bob's Red Mill. 29/09/2014 <Web >
  2. Melissa Clark "Recipe: Melissa Clark's Un-Pumpkin Pie (Caramelized Butternut Squash Pie with Brandy)." WNYC | The Leonard Lopate Show. 11/10/2013. 29/09/2014 <Web >
  3. Jane Anderson "Is Brandy Gluten-Free?." About.com | Celiac Disease. 10/05/2014. 29/09/2014 <Web >
  4. Jane Anderson "Is rum gluten-free?." About.com | Celiac Disease. 20/05/2014. 29/09/2014 <Web >

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