When we made plans to visit our friends for dinner the other night, I wanted to bring something special that I knew they would enjoy. I remember them mentioning how much they love cherry pie. I also knew that for the last couple of years, my friends’ husband has been avoiding all gluten products, as a health-conscious choice.
I can totally understand and respect the need and even the desire to avoid certain ingredients, and decided to give myself a baking-challenge: bake a totally gluten-free pie, with from-scratch crust. It’s what I did and as promised, if it worked out really nicely, I would share the recipe.
First, I’ll share my gluten-free pie crust recipe, that can be used for any and every pie you make. From there, I’ll share my recipe for my from-scratch cherry pie filling, that I’ve been making for my family and friends to enjoy, for the last 10 years or so.
Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 and 1/2 cups gluten-free, all purpose flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend, all purpose, gluten-free flour)
2 sticks salted butter (1 cup, cold)
1/3, plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Tools: pie tin, pastry cutter, parchment paper or silpat mat, bowl, standing mixer, rolling pin
for egg wash (optional): 1 egg white, whisked and applied with a kitchen-safe brush
Here’s what you’ll do:
Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Place the butter in the bowl and and use your pastry cutter to push into the butter, cutting it into small, pea-sized pieces.
Place this mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, and place the standard paddle attachment. Add the water and mix at medium speed until the dough completely lifts from the bowl.
Use your hands to form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough onto a silpat mat or parchment paper that has been dusted with the gluten-free flour.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough flat, until it’s smooth and about 1/4″ high.
Using the mat or paper, invert the rolled-out dough into your pie pan.
The dough is very similar to shortbread so it’s elastic and super easy to work with. You can fill in any spaces or mistakes with your hands and like magic, it comes together beautifully.
Once your pie pan is prepared with the dough, set it aside. Form another ball with the remaining scraps of dough and re-roll out the rest, that will be used for the top of your pie.
If you like to use an egg wash, for a golden-brown finish to the crust, simply take one egg white and whisk it in a small bowl. Use a kitchen safe brush to apply it onto the inside and all around the crust. It would be best if you do this just before pouring in the prepared pie filling.
Now it’s time to prepare the cherry pie filling. This is so delicious and is definitely amazing in other desserts besides pies. For example, it is over-the-top served with vanilla bean ice cream, used as a filling for cupcakes or as a topping for cheesecake. The list goes on and on. . . (I hope you really enjoy this and tell me if you do make this pie. This recipe, like all of my recipes that I share with you on my blog, is a personal treasure.)
Mili’s Sweets Cherry Pie Filling Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
6-7 cups (or about three, 12oz. bags) of dark, sweet pitted cherries.
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all purpose flour (When making gluten-free pie, I substitute with Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted butter (added after pie has been filled)
Here’s what you’ll do:
Please note that you can find dark, sweet, pitted cherries in the frozen fruit section of your local grocery store. There are also organic varieties. If you have the tools and the time and can pit the many fresh cherries needed for a single pie, then I am amazed! I love the fresh-frozen option and you’ll find that there are better brands than others. I honestly do not want to pit fresh cherries, in fear that I might leave a pit or two in a pie.
Over medium heat, place all of the ingredients (except for the butter) into a large saucepan, including: 6-7 cups of cherries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and water.
Stir to dissolve the sugar. More water will created in the pan as the cherries start to cook. I typically use my wooden spoon to do all of the mixing for fruit pies. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once you see small bubbles forming around the edge of the pan, it’s time to continue stirring. From start to finish, it will take a total of 30 minutes to cook the cherries down to a nice thickness, perfect for pie filling.
Once it’s done, pour the hot prepared filling into the prepared pie crust. Now is the time that you’ll add the two tablespoons of butter. Make little pats and place the pieces all around the top.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Next, you’ll cover the pie with the remaining dough. You’ll notice that the dough is delicate, compared to dough that uses shortening. It will make it a little more challenging to lift strips for a lattice. You should have enough remaining dough to either cover the top completely, or to make a lattice.
Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and if you wish, sprinkle the top of the entire pie with granulated sugar.
I placed the pie in a cookie sheet, in case some filling decided to seep out during baking (which usually happens). It helps to keep the oven clean.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool before serving.
Some people (like my husband) prefer a cold pie. If that’s what you like too, then cover with plastic wrap and serve when you are ready. Vanilla bean ice cream makes the perfect pair with this dessert. I prefer to eat pie without any sides.
I topped the pie with a fake-lattice design, by simply leaving the top strands at the top, without weaving them over and under the bottom pieces. No one noticed, but of course I did. After tasting the pie, I didn’t care either. The crust is light, flakey and absolutely divine. It takes the pie to a whole other level. No one would even care or notice that it’s gluten-free. It’s that good!