Giving thanks, gluten-free |

Giving thanks, gluten-free

Susan Hart
For the Nevada Appeal
Photo courtesy Mark MathewsonSusan Hart's gluten-free pie crust can be filled with standard pie filling, such as the pecan pie above, for a delicious flaky-crust desert without the gluten stomach ache.

My family shares a love of tradition, as well as a propensity to celiac disease. Being gluten-intolerant doesn’t slow us down in the pursuit of pie, or the perfect stuffing for turkey. My daughter Audrey, in particular, loves the Thanksgiving ritual and meal, and urges her siblings to attend our celebration every year, though they are flung far and wide. She is the true believer who helps us remember what is important in life.

Audrey’s preference for tradition extends to her tastebuds. Our Thanksgiving menu doesn’t vary much from year to year. I’m allowed to dabble with the hors d’oeuvres, the salad and the green vegetable, but other things may not change. There is always turkey with wild rice stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams with pears and crispy leeks, and whole-berry cranberry sauce with honey and fresh thyme.

And pie! As a person with celiac disease, pie has become the main event of the meal for me – just because it’s so hard to come by on a regular basis.

I’d like to share this pie crust recipe with you. I find it consistent in outcome, and pretty easy to handle once the perfect moisture level is found.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She teaches continuing education classes in gluten-free baking at Truckee Meadows Community College and can be reached at

2, 9″ single crusts or 1, 2-crust pie

(DuBois Health Foods carries gluten-free flours and Xanthan gum)

1 cup brown rice flour

1⁄3 cup tapioca flour

2⁄3 cup potato starch

2 tablespoons sweet rice flour

1 teaspoons Xanthan gum

1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) canola-based margarine

1 egg, cold

1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons ice water

2 tablespoons orange juice, chilled

Sweet rice flour, for rolling out – about 1⁄2 cup

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the margarine with a pastry cutter. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, then mix in the vinegar, ice water and orange juice. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquids, and mix together gently. I find that in our dry climate, a little more ice water is usually necessary. The dough should be tacky to the touch, but not overly sticky.

Divide the dough in two equal balls and wrap them in sweet-rice floured plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. More is better, and overnight is OK, too.

When you are ready to roll the dough, place two sheets plastic wrap, slightly overlapping, on a smooth surface and flour it with more sweet rice flour. Put the dough on the floured wrap, sprinkle a little flour on the dough, put a piece of plastic wrap over that, and roll it out. When it’s the right size, slip your hand under the bottom layer of plastic wrap and invert it into the pie pan.

If it’s a single crust pie for a cold filling, crimp the edges and you’re ready to bake the crust at 400 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. If the crust needs to be baked with the filling, it should be baked according to that recipe. I like the recipes for pecan and pumpkin pie in the first Silver Palate cookbook.

If it’s a filled pie with 2 crusts, place the filling in the pan with the rolled crust, repeat the process for the top crust, cut a few vents in the top and bake according to the directions for that pie.