Thanksgiving is synonymous with pie, to me. I know a lot of people think of turkey, but I think of sweet potato pie. Yes, I am in the sweet potato pie, not pumpkin pie, camp as that is what was always served in my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I try each Thanksgiving to feature a recipe that will work for different dietary needs. This year, Nicole Hunn, the fantastic gluten-free baker and author who writes the Gluten-Free on a Shoestring blog, proposed a gluten-free sweet potato pie. I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
I have a few confessions to make, which may help those of you who, like me, may not be ace pie makers and who therefore are easily intimated at the idea of trying to achieve a flaky and perfect looking crust. I made twice the crust recipe in order to make the pie you see in the picture (which was still warm!) because it allowed me to cut off the ragged edges cleanly and then crimp (it kind of uncrimped itself in the oven in a few places though). I have enough dough left over for another pie, obviously, but I had much more room to work (and make mistakes!) with a double batch. I also divided the process into two days. I roasted the sweet potatoes and made the dough on one day, then made the filling, rolled out and blind baked, and finished baking on the second day. Like Nicole’s gluten-free lemon cream éclairs we featured earlier this year, the recipe only looks long. It is, however, incredibly simple, and it is one of the reasons I love Nicole’s recipes! I hope you try it out, and Happy Thanksgiving a little bit early! –Kristina
About Nicole: Nicole Hunn is the personality behind the gluten-free baking and recipe blog, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, making gluten-free food enjoyable and affordable since 2009. She is the author of two cookbooks, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring and Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy. In addition to her cookbooks and blog, Nicole has written about gluten-free eating for magazines such as Living Without, Gluten-Free Living and Easy Eats, and for the online magazine SheKnows.com. She has appeared on The Better Show, The Dr. Steve Show, The John Tesh Radio Show and ABC News. She has also been featured in the New York Times, the New York Daily News and Epicurious.com. Nicole’s next book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, will be officially published on December 10, 2013.
See how easy it is to make gluten-free pie crust after the jump!
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Pie
Pie Crust Ingredients
- 1 ¼ cups (175 g) high-quality gluten-free pastry flour (Cup4Cup Brand Gluten Free Flour is great as a pastry flour)*, plus more for sprinkling
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled
- ¼ to ½ cup cold water, iced (ice doesn’t count in volume measurement)
- Rich egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon cream, beaten)
* To make your own gluten-free pastry flour, blend 54 grams superfine white rice flour + 31 grams cornstarch + 31 grams superfine brown rice flour + 25 grams tapioca starch + 25 grams nonfat dry milk + 5 grams potato starch + 4 grams xanthan gum; If your store bought version does not have xanthan gum, add 3 grams per cup of flour to your mix (or 4g total for this recipe).
- 1 cup (218 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice**
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) roasted sweet potato puree***
- 10 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk (150 g total) at room temperature, beaten
**To make your own pumpkin pie spice, combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
***To make the sweet potato puree, wash and pierce 3 medium (or 5 small) sweet potatoes with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake, at 375°F, until the skin loosens and the flesh is very soft (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more, depending upon the size of the potatoes). Allow the sweet potatoes to cool until they can be handled, and peel the skin from the flesh. Place the roasted sweet potato flesh in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and process until smooth.
1. In a large bowl, place the flour blend, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients. Press each floured chunk of butter between a floured thumb and forefinger to flatten. Create a well in the center of the large bowl of dry ingredients, add 1/4 cup of the ice water, and mix to combine. The dough will begin to come together. If there are any very crumbly bits, add more ice water by the tablespoon and mix to combine. Press the dough together, transfer it to a large piece of plastic wrap, cover and press it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
2. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
3. Turn the chilled pie crust dough out onto a well-floured surface. Dust the surface with a bit more flour, and roll it out with a rolling pin into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle, sprinkling with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. If at any point, the crust seems to be melting and becomes too pliable to be handled without tearing, place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm up. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, dust again lightly with flour, and roll the dough out again into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Once more, fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then fold again widthwise to create a thick square. Roll it into a round a bit more than 1/8-inch thick and at least 13-inches in diameter, flouring as necessary to keep the crust from sticking.
4. Wind the dough carefully onto a rolling pin, and lift it onto the prepared pie plate. Press the crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Tuck the edges of the crust under to create a thicker edge that is flush with the edge of the pie plate. With the floured thumb and forefinger of both hands, pinch the dough to crimp it all along the perimeter of the crust. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash, and place the pie plate in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until firm.
5. While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, place the brown sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the sweet potato puree, cream and eggs and egg yolk, and mix until smooth. The mixture will be pourable, and relatively thin.
6. Once the crust is cold, cover the bottom and sides with a piece of unbleached parchment paper and scatter it with pie weights (dried beans work really well if you don’t have ceramic pie weights). Place the pie plate in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the shell has begun to brown and shrink very slightly. Remove the pie plate from the oven, and then remove the parchment and pie weights. Pour the prepared filling into the warm shell. Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are puffed up and set, and the center jiggles slightly when the pie is shaken gently from side to side.
7. Place the pie, still in the pie plate, on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely at room temperature. The filling will settle as the pie cools. Cover the cooled pie tightly with plastic wrap, taking care not to allow the plastic wrap to touch the filling at all, and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours and up to 2 days). Allow the pie to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream and a light dusting of cinnamon.
Why Nicole loves this recipe
Before I was gluten free, I probably made pie crust from scratch half the time, and used a store-bought crust the other half the time. I found making pie crust to be pretty intimidating, and looking back I think it was largely because of the fact that you could so easily buy a ready-made crust! If they make it for you, it must be hard to make yourself, right? Wrong! And as long as you have the right technique and the right higher-starch, lower-protein flour, it’s no more difficult to make a light and flaky gluten free pie crust than it is a conventional one. I consider this sweet potato pie (who doesn’t love a baked custard filling?) to be a way to show off just how light and flaky gluten free pastry can be. And whatever you do, don’t cut the butter in the pie crust until it “resembles small peas”! That makes it way too easy to melt the butter as you’re working with it. And cold chunks of butter wrapped in flour are all it takes to make super flaky pastry and pie crust—gluten free or not!