I have been craving apple pie, so I figured it was high time that I tried some pie crust pastry recipes, a la gluten-free. I’ve never noticed a pre-made product made with a gluten-free pie crust, and I think for good reason – it’s kinda hard to make…or so I thought.
My mom and I have tried in the past to adapt a regular pie crust pastry recipe to being gluten-free, but it didn’t really work. They turned out too grainy and not very flaky, and tasted like they were gluten-free. I next tried a very simple recipe using Pamela’s Gluten-free Pancake and Baking mix (it was just butter/shortening, water and the mix) – much better, but it fell apart in my hands after baking…and all I made was pie crust “cookies”. I knew I was on the right track though, because it tasted really great (although with a subtle almond flavor due to the baking mix).
I had heard that you could use Pamela’s GF Bread mix to make pie crusts – one of the winning recipes in the Pamela’s recipe contest (where the fritter recipe from last week came from) was cute little mini pies made in a muffin tin. I have had such good luck with Pamela’s products in the past that I figured it was worth a try. I was not disappointed – the pie crust was flaky, easy to make, and absolutely did not taste like it was gluten-free! Tasters couldn’t believe that they were eating a gluten-free crust, and we promptly sold out of the bread mix at the Cordata store.
My co-worker Michael suggested that I make turnovers for my recipe demo instead of pie – that way each sample would have enough of that awesome pie crust to really taste it. I thought that was a great suggestion and I got to work. I made the crust using organic butter and Spectrum’s Butter flavored Organic Shortening – it is a vegan product that doesn’t have the hydrogenated oil and trans-fat that Crisco has.
For the filling, I went straight to the Honeycrisp apples again, and my “secret” to great apple pie – a couple small Asian pears (you can also use Bartlett pears). I have made this pie filling more times than I can count, but there was no recipe for it so I had to actually measure my ingredients! I’ll note that you can add any sweetener to the apples as you cook them – I like to use organic dark brown sugar, but you could use agave syrup, brown rice syrup, granulated sugar, etc. How much you need to add will depend on how sweet your apples are – the Honeycrisps are super sweet so I only added a couple of T of brown sugar.
You don’t need to use a gluten-free crust in this recipe if you can tolerate wheat. We now have Immaculate Baking Co’s pre-rolled pie crusts at both Co-ops that could be used, or you can make your favorite pastry recipe from scratch (I recommend the one created by Cook’s Illustrated – check out Smitten Kitchen’s detailed and visually stunning post about it here).
- About 2 # apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4” -1/2” small chunks
- 2 small Asian or Bartlett pears, prepared like the apples (optional)
- 2-4 T sweetener, like brown sugar or agave syrup
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1-2 t cornstarch
- 1 recipe Pamela’s GF bread mix pie crust, or 1 package Immaculate Baking Co. Pastry sheets or your favorite pie crust recipe
- 1 t cinnamon
- 2 T sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare apples and place them in a stockpot large enough to be able to mix them easily. Add 1 T of your chosen sweetener and the cinnamon. Mix well.
- Cook over medium-low to low heat for about 20 minutes, until apples are tender but not smooshy. Mix apples periodically and taste them to see if you need to add any more sweetener (add a T at a time).
- After about 20 minutes, add 1/2—1 t cornstarch into the apples to thicken the juice that has accumulated. How much cornstarch you need to add will be determined by how juicy your apples are. Cook for an additional 5—10 minutes, add more cornstarch if necessary, and cook for 5—10 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your pastry (by rolling it out into a rectangular shape; if you are using the prepared sheets, just remove them from the packaging) on sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Combine the 1 t cinnamon and 2 T sugar in a small bowl (this is for sprinkling on top of the turnovers).
- Take apples off heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Take your pastry out of the fridge and cut into 5”—6” circles (I used a collapsible steamer that had no feet as my guide—they are about 5” in diameter). Try to handle the pastry as little as possible.
- Carefully remove pastry circles from paper and fill one half of the circle with 2—3 T of apple filling.
- Carefully fold over unfilled half of pastry over filling and press edges together. Use the tines of a fork to help seal the edges.
- Transfer turnovers to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut vent slits in the top of the turnover and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling starts to bubble out the vents and the turnovers turn golden brown.
- Cool slightly, top with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!
Use remaining pastry/pie crust to make cinnamon sugar “cookies” – add leftover pastry to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and cook for about 10 minutes.
You can also use this filling in pies (it works especially well with Dutch apple pies – see recipe below for streusel topping).
The Pamela’s GF Pie Crust recipe using their bread mix is also excellent for making reliable pie crusts. One bag will make two 9” pie crusts—enough for two Dutch apple pies or one pie with a top crust.
Dutch Apple Pie/Streusel Topping:
2/3 c flour (gluten-free or wheat)
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c cold butter, chopped into 1/4″ chunks
1/2 t cinnamon
Optional – You can add a 1/2 c of oats, but you’ll need to increase the butter to about 1/2 c.
Instructions: Add all dry ingredients to a food processor or medium bowl and combine. Add butter bits to dry mix and pulse or use a pastry cutter to cut in butter, until it is bean sized and coarse. Sprinkle on top of pie evenly and bake until filling starts to bubble and the crust and topping are golden, about 30 -45 minutes. Enough for one pie.