“Make Pie” never got crossed off my list last week. We jetted off to the Bay Area for my cousin’s wedding, and in the shuffle of last-minute trivialities like paying rent, cleaning the bathroom, and finding a cat-sitter, pie never happened.
There was a lot of time spent in airports, trains, and a rental car, and then there we were: Napa. Three generations of family in a rented house, a rehearsal dinner on a croquet course, excellent food, and lots and lots of wine. I never wanted to leave, and thanks to a delayed flight, we sort of got our wish. Our extra half-day in San Fransisco accidentally landed us in the thick of the Pride Parade, the weekend after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. So much joy there. We trudged back to SFO for the long journey home exhausted but filled.
Though I haven’t baked it until now, pie has been on my mind a lot recently. For my cousin’s wedding present, my sister and I printed out a cookbook of all my mom’s recipes. Laying out the table of contents, I realized that my preferred diet of soup and brownies is probably genetic. I guess my mom is right–die appel val nie vêr van die boom af nie!
Of all the pies and crumbles my mom churns out, this is the one we chose to include. Warm from the oven, it begs to mingle juicy filling with a melting scoop of ice cream. If it survives until morning, it makes a pretty freaking fabulous breakfast straight from the fridge.
The original crust was not gluten-free, but obviously that’s not a problem. For gluten-free bakers, pie dough is absurdly simple to make. When you buy a kitchen scale (which you should, if you haven’t already), make this your first recipe. The ratio for perfect, buttery gluten-free pie crust is simple: 3, 2, 1.
That’s three parts flour, two parts butter, and one part ice water. Add a big pinch of salt, maybe some guar gum, and you’re done. Once you’ve got a basic crust down, you can make hand pies, cinnamon-sugar dough snails, or chicken pot pie. It’s not a stretch to call pie dough an essential recipe, so give yourself a pat on the back for adding this one to your list.
And then…go make this gluten free cherry pie, whose patriotic hues pair ever so nicely with fireworks and backyard barbecues. Tiny flags or sparklers are encouraged garnishes, because…’Merica.
- 4 ounces ice water
- 8 ounces butter, very cold or even frozen
- 12 ounces gluten-free flour blend*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum, optional
- Whisk flours together in a large bowl with salt and gum, if using.
- Grate butter on the large holes of a box grater. Working quickly to keep everything cold, use your hands to mix into the flour. Rub butter bits between your fingertips for 30 seconds, until most of the butter shreds are about half their size and no butter clumps remain.
- Pour half the water into the dough and mix lightly to incorporate. Keep adding water and mixing, 1 Tablespoon at a time, just until you can roll the dough into a ball without it crumbling too much.
- Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten into a 1" disc and pop in the freezer for 20 minutes before rolling out for a pie.
- Dough can be refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen, tightly wrapped and sealed in a freezer bag, for 1-2 months.
- *I usually use 4 ounces each of brown rice flour, sorghum flour, and tapioca starch.
- 4 cups pitted cherries
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 3/4 - 1 cup sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 recipe Pie Crust, above
- 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
- Mix cherries, blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract or lemon zest, and citrus juices in a large bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes to macerate, stirring once or twice.
- Get out a pie dish and dust a clean countertop liberally with tapioca starch. Preheat oven to 425F.
- Roll half the pie dough out to a 1/4"-thick circle, rotating and dusting with more tapioca starch as needed to prevent sticking. Starting at one end, roll the dough loosely around your rolling pin, then roll back out from one end of the pie dish to the other. Coax dough to fit the bottom of the pan with your fingers, and trim off excess so you have only a 1" overhang.
- Pour cherry mixture into prepared crust. Roll out the other half of the dough 1/4" thick, this time cutting into 1" strips with a paring knife. Lay out strips 1" apart over the filling, and weave in perpendicular strips. Crimp the corners with your fingers* or a fork, and brush top with beaten egg.
- Bake pie 10 minutes, and reduce heat to 350F. Bake another 40-45 minutes, until crust is beginning to turn golden.
- Remove pie from oven and allow to cool 30 minutes (the hardest part) before cutting in.
- *To crimp pastry, make a motion with your non-dominant thumb and forefinger like you're indicating "just a teeny pinch." Now poke the forefinger of your other hand into the tips of those two fingers. Great, you've got the motion down! Now squeeze around the edge of the pie dough in this motion, forming the dough into a ring of little petals.