I’ve written about my contempt for gluten in a previous post, so I’ll spare you the details. I’ve eliminated gluten from my diet for over 8 years and in doing so, I’ve also almost entirely eliminated making homemade pies. Honestly, I didn’t make many pies before my GF conversion, but I’ve tried a few times since and in true Lindsay fashion, it’s been disastrous. My husband and I still laugh heartily about a past pie misadventure that took place early in our marriage. I bought a store-bought GF dough and struggled for nearly an hour to get it to lay perfectly in my pan without tearing. After finally getting it somewhat presentable and then fully baked, the pie slipped off the sheet pan it was baking on and crashed onto the floor as soon as I pulled it out of the oven! I was so incredibly mad that I threw the sheet pan across my kitchen. In a moment of absolute defeat and bitter shame, I grabbed two forks and asked my husband to help me at least try the pie by eating it off the floor. Bless his heart, (he knew it wasn’t the right time to protest) he joined me in eating pie off the floor as I fought back tears. The failed pie was for an event the next day that I was hosting. On top of the “pie incident”, hours earlier I had already mistakenly tried grinding flower stems in my garbage disposal and caused a major clog that would require an emergency plumber the next morning. I ended up doing all my dishes in an empty storage bin outside with the hose… but that’s another story for another day.
Needless to say, I’ve had an intense desire to redeem my past failure. I vowed never again to use store bought dough, but pie crusts are notoriously difficult to make with GF ingredients. Gluten is what allows dough to stretch and when you’re making a pie having a dough that can hold a stretch when rolled out is essential. For my redemption attempt, I decided to turn to a GF blogger whom I’ve come to trust. Nicole at Gluten Free on a Shoestring is the ultimate GF baking expert. She has taught me that homemade flour blends are best, xanthan gum is to be used judiciously and using a food scale for weighing flour can make you feel like a mad scientist baking expert! When I first considered this project for this week’s challenge, I knew she’d have the perfect crust recipe for me. If I screwed it up it would definitely be my fault because whenever I make her recipes exactly the way she writes them, they always come out perfectly!
Since I’m making a homemade crust, I wanted to make the filling from scratch too. I read a bunch of recipes for scratch pumpkin pie and I am borrowing one person’s pumpkin roasting technique and adapting one person’s filling ingredients… so here we go!
First, I have to roast the pumpkin. I also have to ask the question: Do people have machetes in their kitchen? I had an extremely difficult time cutting this pumpkin! In all the recipes I read (including the oft snarky Pioneer Woman and the expert blog the Kitchn) no one remotely discussed that cutting through this pumpkin would feel like splitting a rock with a butter knife. Luckily, I maintained all my digits throughout the tiring process, but I came very close to losing a pinky or two. SHARP KNIVES ARE ESSENTIAL!
Here we go!:
The Challenge: To make a gluten free pumpkin pie from scratch… and try not to drop it on the floor.
My Inspiration: Read the above story. Also, it’s Thanksgiving this week and it’s the perfect week to make a pumpkin pie for our holiday gathering.
What I Need:
Who is NOT Helping Me: The pumpkin. See above story about desperately trying to cut it.
How I Did It:
I cleaned off the pumpkin thoroughly.
I removed the stem, split the pumpkin in half and scooped out all the innards.
The various voices on the internet all diverge at this point. Some people say to roast it in halves, some say cut the pumpkin into strips, some say cut it in cubes. After laboring so long to simply cut the pumpkin (which I swear was covered in shoe leather!) in half, I decided to get creative. I placed the two halves on an aluminum foil and cooking spray covered pan and roasted them cut side UP at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After the pumpkin had significantly softened, I cut the halves in half (so now I have 4 slices) and continued roasting them for 35 more minutes. I tested their doneness by poking a paring knife through the flesh and when I could remove the knife with ease, I knew they were ready.
I scooped out all the roasted flesh into the bowl of my food processor and discarded the outer skin. I pureed the pumpkin until it was smooth. It happened to miraculously yield 2 cups of pumpkin puree – which is exactly what my recipe calls for!
I made the crust following her exact directions and I was actually able to transfer the dough from my rolling pin to the pie plate without any tearing! Hallelujah!
I made the filling and poured it in my par-baked crust.
I baked the pie for 60 minutes and…
It turned out alright.. The crust is pretty overdone, though.. I would’t call it burnt, but I also wouldn’t call it golden brown. It’s more like solidly brown-brown. I read too late that you should put foil over the crust to keep it from browning… but how does one do that, exactly? I formed a ring of crumpled up foil and that didn’t seem to cover the crust very well – I just kept jabbing the preciously smooth filling with the foil. I ended up laying small sheets of foil over the perimeter of the pie, but the browning damage was already done.
Final Thoughts/Would I Do it Again: I made this pie for a gathering on Saturday. So, I’m going to have to wait to see how it tastes.. which seems a bit risky.. but oh well. I’m going to freeze it quickly after it cools and then defrost it on the day of the party with the hopes of preserving the flavor.
If this turns out as delicious as it seems, I will definitely do this again. It did take me nearly a half a day to make the whole thing with all the various steps, but it wasn’t difficult. The GFOAS dough handled well and in regards to the filling, the only truly difficult part was cutting the stupid pumpkin. Next time I am going to sterilize some power tools and hack at the pumpkin with some power. I’m going to be the only GF person eating this pie, so I probably won’t get an honest critique from my sympathetic in-laws and friends, but I am perfectly okay with that. They know what non-GF pies taste like and I’m sure they’ll just be happy it’s edible compared to some GF stuff out there I’ve made them taste.
**I did bake some of the leftover filling in a small dish alongside the pie and I think the filling is way too sweet. I’d cut the sugar amount in half at the very least. I also should have added more pumpkin pie spice. **