Gluten Free Pie Crust Review
As more and more people are looking to eliminate gluten from their diet, there is an abundance of gluten free foods available. The question is--which ones are any good? In my search to find the easiest gluten free pie crust with the best taste, I am reviewing two products available. Until recently, my only experience with gluten free pie crusts is the frozen product, which has a less desirable flavor and can put a damper on any homemade pie.
The first product is a Gillian's Foods Gluten Free Frozen Pie Crust found at Whole Foods and other health concious grocers. The second is a Gluten Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix which comes in a box. It is made by the Glutino company who has been making gluten free foods since 1983. The first thing to keep in mind is contrary to the product title, it is NOT perfect! When you are used to eating a homemade flaky pie crust, or even a Pillsbury refrigerated crust, gluten free just isn't the same texture or taste. Once you have accepted that fact, your expectation of the finished product will be more realistic.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is an ingredient found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. It can also be found in some oats if they are contaminated with other wheat products. When you remove gluten from most foods, it is quite noticeable. Gluten especially plays an important role in breads and baked goods. Gluten provides elasticity in dough and helps it to rise and to keep its shape. It often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten substitutes are improving allowing gluten free foods to have a much better flavor and texture than earlier versions.
Ingredients for the Gluten Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix
- entire bag Perfect Pie Crust Mix
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sugar, optional
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut in small pieces
- 10 tbsp butter flavored vegetable shortening, in small pieces
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 3 tsp cider vinegar
The directions on the box are easy to follow but you do have to pay attention and be prepared to use cold, unsalted butter. If you use room temperature butter, it will not mix as well. Even with that I found the dough to be sticky and gloppy, like it needed more flour. I resisted adding more flour and only used the ingredient list on the box. I followed the directions and wrapped it into two balls and refrigerated the dough.
After an hour I tried to roll out the dough onto a surface covered with gluten free flour. Unlike regular bread dough or pie crust, this was hard to roll out with a rolling pin. I found the dough to be quite crumbly and difficult to roll out to a desired thickness. When transferring it to the pie plate, the dough wanted to fall apart. The crust was thicker than what I anticipated so I used wax paper and my fingers to attempt to make it thinner in the pie plate. I attempted to crimp the edges of the pie crust to at least make it look pretty, but found that challenging.
I converted my homemade peach pie recipe into a gluten free version by substituting Bolts Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour in place of regular flour. My family did not notice any difference in the peach pie filling, but the crust--well, that is a different story. Suprisingly, the crust ended up being more flaky than I anticipated but it had a different texture; it was more grainy tasting.
Gluten Free Pie Crust Analysis
The Gillian's Foods Gluten Free Frozen Pie Crust is straightforward--just add your filling and bake. Its crust stays together well, but it does not turn out flaky and it is void of any real taste. When comparing the Gluten Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix to Gillian's frozen crust, I have to say that the mix did have a superior taste, but not enough to justify the time spent mixing and rolling out dough. My next gluten free pie will likely use the frozen pie crust just to save time. However, my family ate the entire pie--no crumbs left! Even better is that fact that my daughter was so appreciative of my efforts to make a gluten free pie. There is lots of love that goes into homemade cooking!