The Experiment: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Blueberry Pie
In the last six months of my being gluten and dairy (or casein) free (and TRYING to be sugar-free, but that’s tough) I have eaten rather simply and have not tried baking beyond opening up a gluten-free mix or two.
Last week, my family and I ventured out to an orchard and picked some 5 POUNDS of Blueberries. Good times. Good berries. On the way home, driving on 696, our windshield was firmly smacked by a sizable rock, causing spiderweb of beautiful shape and cracks that creeped.
So, Monday morning we replaced the windshield. That’s $150 into the pie right away.
Anyway, with all those berries, I figured it was a perfect time to try out some Gluten-free baking.
I found some GFCF Pie crust recipes online and picked one. It called to replace butter with vegetable shortening, and it used a combination of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and xanthan gum. I have previously baked with exactly NONE of these dry ingredients, so I was a little nervous. But to the store I went, and brought home all these strange flours and starches. In my hasty search for ingredients I couldn’t find any tapioca starch, but I did find tapioca pearls. Add $30 or so for strange flours and such.
Bringing the tapioca pearls home, I placed them in my coffee grinder to grind them to a fine flour (this was recommended on the internet.) I ground, and ground and ground some more, but the tapioca wasn’t becoming fine enough – so I ground some more. And then, much to my dismay, my coffee grinder DIED. Gave up the ghost. Right in the middle of my bery imprtant tapioca project! How dare he?! I mean, it. ugh. anyway. I’m not sure if it overheated or if the fine flour of the tapioca clogged the motor. My dear man tried to take it apart and fix it with no luck. Anyway, I still had this not-fully-ground tapioca, so I pulled out the food processor. The food processor was too big, I think, and it just bumped the hard tiny pearls around instead of grinding them. Okay, they may have gotten a little smaller, but they reached a point where I thought ‘that’s as good as it’s going to get,’ so I turned it off and added it to my Gluten-free flour mix. Mistake.
So I’ve lost my coffee grinder. It’s served me well over the last decade or so. Add $20 or so to that pie bill.
Fast forward a bit. I made the dough and filling and assembled the pie, baked it (not too much, not too little) and let it cool for a few hours. We served it with ice cream. (I had coconut ice cream.)
Here’s the result of my $200 pie:
The Filling: Not bad. Actually pretty good. I usually make this pie with blueberries AND blackberries, which I like a lot – so I really missed the blackberries, but I seemed to be the only one missing them. I also think I had a little too much orange zest in the filling. Maybe you don’t need so much without the blackberries? Or maybe not using real sugar threw that flavor balance off? Instead of sugar, I had used a combination of stevia and honey to sweeten it. But even without sugar, the filling was perfectly sweet with no funny after-taste.
The Crust: left me underwhelmed. It was very soft and really hard to work with in the first place; it fell apart over and over. But after it baked, the first thing I noticed when biting into the pie was the CRUNCH of biting down into a hard tapioca pearl. Yuck. Like huge grains of sand in the pie crust. Okay, they weren’t everywhere, it seems like most of the tapioca was ground fine enough, but there were at least a handful of pearls in each slice of pie. crunch. That made me sad. As for the rest of the features of the crust, it was very delicate and light. Andrew called it flaky, but I’m not sure I would call it that. It was like a very soft cookie maybe. It did not taste like a pie crust should to me. 😦 I like something with a BIT more of a bite. Maybe I’ll add more brown rice flour next time…
Andrew is eating it for breakfast, and he says it’s even better the second day. The filling has thickened up even more (not that it was too runny the first day), and he says he didn’t find any hard tapioca pearls, which makes me think they might have softened overnight, absorbing some fat from the pie crust maybe. I’ll have to go have some. 🙂