Autumn’s Bounty: Thanksgiving and Variations of Gluten-Free Pecan Pies

I just updated this post from two years ago, to reflect the improvements I’ve made in making gluten-free pie crust dough. I demonstrated the way to make this pastry leaf decorated chocolate coffee liqueur pecan pie in the gluten-free pastry class I taught this past week, through Kitchen Underground. The ladies who attended the class were delightful! I enjoyed visiting with them while we discussed various gluten-free flours, methods for mixing pastry dough, and other such topics. I also prepared a pumpkin pie spice almond pear tart for the class; I will post the recipe for that delicious seasonal pastry soon.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,leaf pecan pie final
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. . . .
(John Keats, from “To Autumn”)

’Neath the autumn rays,
Now the springtide sowing,
All its fruit displays;
Every hill rejoices,
Fields with gladness ring,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing.
In the dark earth sleeping,
Long the seed hath lain;
Joyful now the reaping,
Fair the garnered grain.
As the gold we gather
Of Thine harvest gift,
Now to Thee, our Father,
Thankful hearts we lift;
Now to Thee, our Father,
Thankful hearts we lift.
(Isabella Postgate, from the hymn “Fields of Gold are Glowing”)

Every year as the fall holiday season approaches, those three months of joy and celebration that begin with Halloween and end with New Year’s Day, people seem to follow an unspoken custom to observe to one another that the holidays surely did arrive quickly. We hear this every year, despite the fact that the holidays arrive the same time every year, with the same space of minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months between the holiday season’s end one year and its beginning the next. Like Keat’s bees, we think the days of summer will never end. Somehow, though, the time for holiday preparations does seem to arrive unexpectedly quickly every year. The first sign of Halloween that appears in stores seem to catch people off-guard, as if we didn’t know that somehow this year Halloween would be as early as October, or Christmas as early as December! I find myself as much surprised as the next person when I realize mid-autumn that I have only a limited amount of time to plan a Thanksgiving feast, bake Christmas goodies as presents for friends and acquaintances, and prepare a sumptuous Christmas repast. This year was no different. Surprised by the rapid approach of such a joyous season, I found too little time to record my gluten-free Thanksgiving dishes by posting them online; thus, I am only now, on December 28th, the fourth day of Christmas (the Feast of the Holy Innocents and Martyrs), sitting down to write about gluten-free pecan pies I make for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Pecan pies are actually valuable fare these days. The price of pecans has risen so high in recent years that the cost of baking a pecan pie has become prohibitive for many pie-lovers. The rising cost of these nuts has multiple causes, among them the great demand from China and the prolonged drought in Texas. The expense of buying pecans for baking is great enough for pie lovers to notice. In Austin bakeries, for example, a single pecan pie this year will cost the pecan pie-seeking patron anywhere from $20 – $22. The exorbitant price of pecans gives me yet one more reason to love Costco. I can get bulk pecan halves in any of several grocery stores in Austin / San Antonio for a cost of $9.99 a pound. At Costco, where I buy my pecans, I pay $11.99 for two pounds of pecan halves. Costco enables me to keep pecan pie baking within my food budget! Two pounds of pecans lasts quite a while in our house, so I place the bag containing the pecans in a freezer safe storage bag and then store the nuts in the freezer to keep them from going rancid. I never worry about thawing out the nuts when I want to use them. I just take the amount I want at the moment from the freezer bag and use them as needed.

For Thanksgiving dinners, I always bake a pecan pie of some sort. I use a vintage recipe that’s made without corn syrup. Although the proverbial pendulum seems to be swinging back in a direction that rather un-demonizes corn syrup, I still prefer to cook without it (except in rare instances in which it can’t be helped, which for me is ONLY when I use marshmallow cream in a candy recipe). Pecan pie is versatile and always so delicious no matter the variation, that following the recipe for the Kahlua chocolate pecan pie, I offer the recipe for couple other delectable variations of the pie. I have a friend whose husband prefers his food to be what he defines as “normal.” He will have ONLY pecans in his pecan pie! Nothing else! For him, I bake a classic pecan pie, the recipe for which I also include at the end of the Kahlua pecan pie recipe.

The recipe for pie crust that I use is the Better Homes and Garden pie crust recipe I used before my Celiac diagnosis. I always substituted butter for the shortening in the recipe; now I also substitute the flours and add the ingredients necessary to hold a gluten-free pie crust together. Using the guidelines from Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies, I weigh my flours, assume a substitution of 250 g total of gluten-free flours to replace 250 g of all purpose wheat flour (which weighs about 125 g per cup). About 70 % of the flours I choose have some protein, which aids the structure of the pie crust, and about 30% of the flours are starches with binding properties, but no protein. They aid the flaky texture of the crust.

I no longer use xanthan or guar gums in my baking. A tablespoon of ground flax or white chia seed added to the dry ingredients of your pie crust dough does the same job as the gums in your baked goods (chia and flax seeds act as gummy binders), and they are healthier than  gums. Even white ground white chia seeds are visible in your pie dough. If you prefer your pie crust to have a traditional appearance, substitute 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum for the ground flax or chia seed in the recipe.

Note: You may substitute 2 cups of all purpose gluten-free flour for the flours I use in this recipe.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Kahlua Pecan Pie

Pie Crust

100 g Authentic Foods super fine brown rice flour
75 g Sweet rice flour
38 g Tapioca starch
38 g Arrowroot starch
1 tbls ground white chia seed (or ground flax seed)
¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 tbls organic powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces and well chilled
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbls milk, if needed

-Mix dry ingredients together in a medium or large bowl.
-Add the butter to the dry ingredients, and using either a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until all the dry ingredients appear moistened and the mixture resembles corn meal, with only a few larger pieces of flour-covered butter visible.

butter for pie crustbutter in pie crustblending butter into pie crust
-Add the beaten egg. Using your hands, knead the egg into the dough until you can form the mixture into a ball. Mixing in the egg will take a while; don’t give up. Most of the time the one egg is all the moisture needed to form a cohesive ball of dough that holds together as you manipulate it. One the dough forms a ball, if it’s a little to dry (breaks apart when flattened into a disk), add the one tablespoon of milk.

pie crust dough
-Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least thirty minutes.

-When you are ready to use the pie crust, place the pie crust on a piece of wax paper. I place the wax paper on top of one of my favorite kitchen tools: my Sur La Table silicon pastry mat. Placing the wax paper on the non-stick mat keeps the paper from slipping while the dough is rolled out.

smoked peach pie j

updated pie crust oct 15-Using a knife or a dough cutter, cut about 1/3 of the dough off from the disk; wrap in plastic wrap and put aside to use for decorating the rim of the pie.

IMG_2182 (2)-Roll the remaining pie crust to the desired size, starting from the middle and rolling outward to form a circle.

-Roll the dough the size of appropriate circle on the pastry mat, or place the pie plate upside down on the rolled out pie dough, to make sure the dough is rolled out enough to fit easily into the pie plate, with some overlap to use for forming an edge around the crust.

smoked peach pie k-Place the pie crust over the pie plate. Carefully peel the wax paper away from the crust.

updated pie crust oct 15 b-Fit the pie crust into the plate, patting the dough along the edge of the pie plate, to form a surface on which to place the dough leaves.

updated pie crust oct 15 c-Sprinkle the silicon pastry mat with rice flour. Place the reserved piece of pie dough on the flour. Pat down the dough and sprinkle with rice flour. Rub rice on the rolling pin, then roll the pastry out to about 1/8 inch thick.

-Using a leaf-shaped fondant or pie crust cutter, cut leaf shapes out of the rolled out dough.

leaf pie crust 1leaf pie crust 3-Make an egg wash by adding about a tablespoon of water to one beaten egg. Brush the egg yolk onto the edge of the pie crust in the pan.

pie crust egg washegg wash brushed pie crust-Carefully apply the cut-out leafs, end to end, to the edge of the egg wash-brushed pie crust edge.

pie crust egg wash

Pie Filling

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
3 eggs
¼ cup Kahlua
½ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
2/3 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Spread the chocolate chips over the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

leaf pie crust 5

– In a large mixing bowl, mix sugars and flour. Add remaining ingredients, including the pecans, mixing very well.

– Pour mixture over the chocolate chips in the prepared pie shell.

leaf pie crust 6

– Bake until crust is golden and pie filling puffy but still slightly wobbly in center, about 40-45 minutes. The filling will settle down and solidify as it cools.

***Gluten-free rum or brandy can be substituted for the Kahlua in this recipe.

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie Variations:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Bacon Pecan Pie

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
3 eggs
3 tbls milk
½ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
2/3 cups 60% cacao chocolate chips
6 – 8 Slices of bacon, evenly cooked and crumbled
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Spread the chocolate chips and crumbled bacon over the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

– In a large mixing bowl, mix sugars and flour. Add remaining ingredients, beating very well.

– Pour mixture over the chocolate chips and bacon in the prepared pie shell.

– Sprinkle nuts evenly on top.

– Bake until crust is golden and pie filling puffy but still slightly wobbly in center, about 40-45 minutes. The filling will settle down and solidify as it cools.

Gluten-Free Maple Bacon Pecan Pie

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
3 eggs
3 tbls pure maple syrup
½ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
6 – 8 slices of bacon, evenly cooked and crumbled
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Spread the crumbled bacon over the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

– In a large mixing bowl, mix sugars and flour. Add remaining ingredients, beating very well.

– Pour mixture over the bacon in the prepared pie shell.

– Sprinkle nuts evenly on top.

– Bake until crust is golden and pie filling puffy but still slightly wobbly in center, about 40-45 minutes. The filling will settle down and solidify as it cools.

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One thought on “Autumn’s Bounty: Thanksgiving and Variations of Gluten-Free Pecan Pies

  1. Reblogged this on Deglutenized and Delicious and commented:

    I just updated this post from two years ago, to reflect the improvements I’ve made in making gluten-free pie crust dough. I demonstrated the way to make this pastry leaf decorated chocolate coffee liqueur pecan pie in the gluten-free pastry class I taught this past week, through Kitchen Underground. The ladies who attended the class were delightful! I enjoyed visiting with them while we discussed various gluten-free flours, methods for mixing pastry dough, and other such topics. I also prepared a pumpkin spice almond pear tart for the class; I will post the recipe for that delicious seasonal pastry soon.

    Like

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