I was planning on sharing this pie crust post closer to the holidays, but on Monday Bon Appetit re-posted my Instagram photo of the salted butter apple galette I had made over the weekend (!!), and whoa Nelly, I had a ton of people ask me for my gluten-free pie crust recipe. I therefore shoved aside my original post (you’ll get it soon, promise!) to instead share this buttery, flaky, gluten-free pie crust that tastes just as delicious as the white-flour crusts of my childhood. If you do eat gluten (lucky you!) you can use this same recipe and technique using all-purpose flour. I’ve included a step-by-step video on how to do it below (never fear pie crust again).
I heart pie.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a pie girl. Growing up, we celebrated birthdays and special occasions with slices of blueberry, apple and pumpkin pie, not cake. It’s in my blood. My mom is a killer pie baker, and woe was the day I first went home for the holidays after cutting gluten out of my diet several years ago. My heart wrenched as everybody dug into their slices of pie, even though I had a lovely little gluten-free crisp all to myself. After that I started experimenting with different gluten-free pie dough recipes, determined to find a version that could stand up to my mom’s. However, most of the GF crusts I tried called for a million ingredients and tasted way too “strong”—while I adore grain, nut and seed flours, when it comes to specific occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday) and specific pies (pumpkin, apple, blueberry), I want the buttery, subtly sweet, let-the-fruit-shine crust that I had as a kid.
Finally I hit the nail on the head when experimenting with Cup 4 Cup flour a few years ago (don’t worry, this is not a paid endorsement!). Cup 4 Cup was developed by one of the chefs in Thomas Keller’s French Laundry kitchen, so I had high hopes. I did a one-to-one swap of Cup 4 Cup for the white flour in my classic pie dough, and the result was as just as good as the stuff of my memories. Weeeee! I literally danced in my kitchen that day (admittedly, that’s not uncommon), and I haven’t stopped pie baking since. 2017 UPDATE: This pie crust also works fabulously with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour!
Pie Crust 101
No matter what flour you’re using, the technique for making good pie dough is the same, and I promise that with just a few tricks, it’s way easier than most cake and brownie batters. First, buy good-quality, European style butter, which has a higher fat content and will make rolling and working the dough much easier (not to mention that it will taste better). Cut the butter into about ½-inch sized pieces and put it in the fridge. Cold butter is key.
Now, pull out your food processor (you can also make pie dough using your hands or a pastry cutter, but a food processor is faster and easier). Dump in your flour (Cup 4 Cup or all-purpose), salt and sugar (you can omit the sugar if you’re making a savory tart or quiche). Pulse to combine. Sprinkle the cold butter cubes over the flour and pulse just until the mixture is somewhat crumbly and there are still pea-sized chunks of butter.
Don’t overmix, because those chunks equal a flaky crust. Drizzle a bit of apple cider vinegar over top (this helps with flakiness). Put the lid back on, start the machine, and immediately start to drizzle in cold water. You want to add just enough water so that the dough sticks together when pinched—it should still look shaggy and a bit floury.
That’s all there is to it! Here’s the play-by-play:
The dough can be refrigerated for a couple days or frozen for several months (few things in life give me more joy than discovering I have a disk of pie dough hiding in the freezer). You can use it in any pie or tart recipe (sweet or savory), including this salted butter apple galette from Bon Appetit, which I made last week, and which is AMAZING.
Here’s to a season (no, let’s make that a year) of fear-less, delicious pie baking!
Perfect Pie Crust (gluten-free & regular!)
With the right technique, making pie dough—either regular or gluten-free—is easier than any cake or brownie batter. Be sure to start with good-quality, European-style butter, and make sure it’s cold before adding it to the flour—you can use regular all-purpose flour, or gluten-free flour in this recipe. The food processor makes quick work of combining the ingredients, and the result is a buttery, flaky dough that works wonderfully in pies, galettes and tarts.
- 2 ½ cups (11.5 ounces) Cup 4 Cup or Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten-free flour, OR 2 ½ cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for workspace
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional; this can be omitted for savory crusts)
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted, good quality butter (preferably a cultured or European style butter), cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 - ½ cup cold water
Put the flour, sea salt and sugar, if using, in a food processor and pulse to combine.
Sprinkle the cold butter over the flour in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks crumbly with larger, pea-sized chunks of butter (those chunks of butter equal a flaky crust!). Drizzle the apple cider vinegar over top.
Turn the machine on and immediately start drizzling cold water through the feed tube. Stop the machine once the mixture starts to come together and looks shaggy. Give the dough a pinch—if it sticks together, it’s ready to go. If not, turn the machine on again and drizzle in a bit more water. You might not need all of the water—you’re looking for a shaggy dough, not a cohesive ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form each into a flat disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 days. Do Ahead: The wrapped disks can be placed in zip-top freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
If the dough has been in the fridge for several hours, let it sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 10-20 minutes. Roll it out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. If the dough immediately starts to crack once you start rolling, it’s too cold—give it a few more minutes to warm up. If the edges crack as you roll (which they probably will, so no fear!) simply patch them as needed.
Single Crust Pie
To blind bake a single pie crust: Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, making sure to get in the corners. Using kitchen scissors, trim the dough to a ½-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under to form a ring around the pie plate. Crimp the ring, if you’d like. At this point, if the dough feels like it’s getting soft, pop the pie plate in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Line the crust with a large piece of parchment paper then pour in dried beans or pie weights to completely cover the bottom. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans. Bake 5 minutes longer, or until light golden on the bottom. Do Ahead: The crust can be blind baked up to 1 day in advance.
Double Crust Pie
To make a double-crust pie: Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Roll out one disk of dough, and transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate, making sure to get in the corners. Add your fruit filling, and dot with butter. Roll out the second piece of dough and lay it over top. Using kitchen scissors, trim the dough to a ½-inch overhang. Roll the overhang under (pinching the top and bottom dough together) to form a ring around the pie plate. Crimp the ring, if you’d like. At this point, if the dough feels like it’s getting soft, pop the pie in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Brush the top dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Using a small knife, cut a few vents on top. Bake 35 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F and bake 15-30 minutes longer, or until the fruit is tender and bubbling. If needed, lightly tent the top crust or edges if they start to look too brown near the end of cooking.