Disclaimer: My mom makes the best pecan pie. So, if this isn’t the best you’ve ever tasted, it’s because my mom didn’t make it.
Ok, so every time I come home to Memphis, my mom asks if there’s anything in particular I want, and I always ask for her pecan pie. But for the last few years, I haven’t been able to enjoy the most-delicious-dessert ever made, and it’s been heartbreaking to watch my family members partake. I’ve known about the possibility of gluten-free pie crusts, but I had yet to make one that made me actually want to eat the crust with the filling, rather than just scooping it off of it… This year, I just couldn’t take it anymore. And since I’ve been having relatively good luck with baking lately, I thought, what the hell, let’s give it a go. I found this recipe a while back and decided to adapt it to my mom’s super-secret pie crust recipe…that’s not so secret anymore since I’m sharing it, but you deserve to eat pie, too! 🙂
1 cup of cornstarch
1 cup of tapioca flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup of rice flour
1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/2 cup of cold shortening, divided into 4 parts
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of cold, gluten-free vodka (such as Tito’s)
1/4 cup of cold water
That’s right. Vodka. There’s some science behind it, apparently, but I don’t remember, so just trust me. (Or you can substitute more water if you’re alcohol-free.)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (don’t worry, I won’t report you)
2 tablespoons of rice flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (gluten free, check it)
1 cup of light corn syrup
1 cup of finely chopped pecans
For your pie crust, mix the flours, starch, salt and sugar together in a large bowl, then add the in the shortening and butter, in pieces, and combine with your hands. It should resemble cottage cheese curds at this point, as my mother calls it. Then add in the vodka and water (or all water), and continue combining with your hands until a nice ball of dough forms. If it’s too wet, add small amounts of rice flour and tapioca flour, alternating, until you can make it form a workable ball. Remember, gluten-free doughs are going to be wetter and a little more crumbly than gluten-containing doughs, and it’ll be a little more difficult to work with. But be patient, it’s worth it. Also, it really needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, to give the flours time to absorb the water and get drunk on the vodka.
This recipe normally makes 2 very thin pie crusts, if you’re using a 9-inch plate. My mom uses an old china pie plate that’s about 10-inches and a little deeper than some, so we just used all of the dough and made a thicker crust. My mom was a little worried about ruining it (and we didn’t refrigerate it), so she just pressed the whole thing in there, but you can be less gentle and roll it out, with plenty of tapioca flour for dusting everything. You might also want to try the plastic wrap method, where you cover a giant chopping board in plastic wrap, tapioca flour it, plop down your dough, cover it in plastic wrap, and roll out the dough inside of it. This way your rolling pin doesn’t stick to anything and your dough is contained. Then peel off the top layer, and invert your dough into the pie plate (ungreased, there’s plenty of grease in the dough, unless you know your pie plate to be troublesome).
Preheat the oven to 375. For the filling, cream together the sugar and butter in a bowl, then add in the eggs and combine. Add the flour, salt, vanilla extract, and corn syrup and combine well. Then add the pecans and pour the mixture in the pie crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until set (check starting at the 35 minute mark for softness and browning of the crust, if it jiggles leave it in, if the crust is browning too much cover it in tin foil).
SUCCESS! I finally have pecan pie back in my life (well, when I go home and my mom makes it for me). And now you can too! 🙂 With a nice, healthy spoonful of ice cream….yummmmm.
Let me know how this crust works for you! I hope you can use it to make and enjoy your favorite home-made pies! There’s no better way to spend time with your family than experimenting in the kitchen, creating together and eating together. Happy Holidays!