The pickier-than-me diner who sits across the table from me is the true taste tester for any recipe. His judgments range from a polite silence to “Mmm-hmm, that was very good.”
This weekend I experimented twice, to see if I could make an excellent gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The grandchildren loved the Saturday effort, but the food critic remained silent.
However, the assessment of Sunday evening’s production was. “If I didn’t know it was gluten-free, I’d never know it was anything different than our usual good Thanksgiving pie.” Success!
So here are 3 recipes: pie crust, pumpkin filling, and whipped cream–all dairy-free, gluten-free, and almost-not-quite free of refined sugar (the 6th ingredient out of 12 in the bread mix is evaporated cane sugar)
Crust recipe from the Pamela’s Products website.
[Makes 2 crusts. I cut the recipe in half for the pumpkin pie]
- 1 bag (3-1/2 cups) Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix (no yeast is used in this recipe)
- 8 TBSP butter, chilled and cubed
- 8 TBSP shortening, chilled and cubed
- [my substitute for the above 2 ingredients: 1 cup Butter Flavored Crisco]
- 7 to 8 TBSP ice cold water
- You can use all butter in place of shortening
- For a non-dairy crust, use 8 TBSP dairy-free butter and 8 TBSP shortening
- [Note: Butter is a dairy product. But note that many margarines also contain some dairy ingredients, so read the labels.]
Pre-heat oven to 350° [for pre-baked single-crust pie].
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using paddle attachment, cut chilled shortening and butter into bread mix until small pea-sized pieces form (or use pastry blender or two knives). Slowly add ice water just until dough comes together (not sticky). Add 1 tsp additional water at a time if dough is too dry. Do not over-handle dough.
Divide dough in half. [I formed into ball and placed in fridge for 1/2 hour.] Roll between sheets of parchment or plastic wrap [I used wax paper and sprayed each sheet lightly with olive oil non-stick spray], to about 1/8″ thick. Peel off top layer and invert into lightly greased pie plate. Peel off second sheet and fix crust edge. (Cover and chill if dough is too soft.) [As I rolled out the crust, I stopped as needed to “clean up” the edges that tended to splay out.]
For pre-baked shell: bake in middle of oven for 28 to 30 minutes. If filling, bake in the bottom third of the oven, according to individual recipe. Dough may be frozen for later use; wrap in plastic and freeze, and thaw completely before use.
Chef’s note: This crust is perfect pre-baked and then filled with pudding, fresh fruit or your favorite filling. Or, for pies that bake with their crust, do not pre-bake, fill with quiche, pumpkin pie, or apple pie filling and bake the crust with the pie as directed. [I avoided burned crust edges by loosely crimping strips of foil around the pie plate before baking.]
© Pamela’s Products, Inc. [Italics are my added notes.]
For the Saturday experimental crust, I used Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. The baked texture was more like graham cracker crust, not what I wanted for pumpkin pie. But that recipe is worth remembering for a pudding pie or fresh fruit pie sometime.
This crust from the Pamela’s Bread Mix tastes great. Full disclosure: even the master food critic mentioned that my crust was a bit too firm–not the ideal flaky texture. I think that’s due to my lack of experience. I don’t do pie crusts. My usual homemade pie filling goes into a crust from the grocery freezer section. So 2 pie crust experiments and the Thanksgiving pie-to-come is proof of how much I love certain people. They know who they are.
Noel’s Pumpkin Pie Filling
(gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free. fills 1 single-crust 9-inch pie)
1-1/2 cups pumpkin (cooked fresh or 15-oz. can)
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (regular, NOT light)
Mix together all ingredients well.
(If using fresh home-cooked pumpkin, a blender smooths it well. In blender, combine all ingredients and as much coconut milk as the blender jar accommodates. The rest of the milk can be stirred in gently and thoroughly after pouring the mixture into the pie crust).
Pour into crust. Crimp foil around crust edge to prevent over browning.
400 degrees. 1 hour–until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.
If there’s too much filling for your crust, bake the extra amount as pudding (crustless) in a small baking bowl. Don’t follow my example and think, “Surely I can pour it all in and still lift it into the oven without spilling anything.” Hmph. It’s also a good idea to put the pie onto a cookie sheet you’ve already placed on the oven shelf to protect the oven from any drips that do happen.
Dairy-free Whipped Cream
Refrigerate mixing bowl at least an hour beforehand.
14-oz can Coconut Cream (refrigerated at least overnight)
1/2 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar (or 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey, if avoiding refined sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Use whisk attachment if your mixer has it.
Beat the coconut cream until soft and smooth. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Continue beating at high speed until achieving the whipped texture you prefer. (If it doesn’t whip up light, no problem. Just as it is, with all the ingredients mixed together, it’s delicious and thick.)
(I found canned coconut cream locally at Trader Joe’s. Even my usual grocery co-op didn’t have it.)
I’ve also used canned regular coconut–regular, not light. You want the heavy cream to separate from the rest of the liquid, so do not shake can. Refrigerate at least overnight. Again, do not shake when removing it from the fridge. The cream will be at the top of the can. Scoop it out carefully (I used a smallish gravy ladle) and follow the above directions. Save the remaining liquid for use later.
I used the leftover liquid instead of water to make gluten-free, dairy-free dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, from Pamela’s Bread Mix. The taste tester and I had to restrain each other to eating just one, so the rest could go in the freezer until Thursday. They are good.
What are your special-dietary Thanksgiving ideas or favorites? If you have time in this busy week, share your recipe(s). Thanks!