Thankful.

This has been, by far, one of the most relaxing Thanksgiving weeks I can remember, complete with lots of firsts. It’s the first time in years that I haven’t had to work either Thanksgiving or Christmas, the first time I get to enjoy the perks of corporate holiday hours/vacation time, and the first time I probably won’t leave the house all day on a holiday (in many years). Pal and I are keeping things low-key with a Turkey Day for Two today and will have a big family dinner on Saturday in Columbus.

Last night we had a mini get together at our house, or what we like to call Friendsgiving. Lots of appetizers (plus Granny Grubbs’ brown rice) and my very first gluten-free, dairy-free pie crust. I had intended for the pie filling to be dairy-free as well, but I bought the wrong yogurt by mistake and decided to just roll with the punches.

I wasn’t sure where to begin when I decided to make my own gluten-free pie crust. The dairy substitutes were fairy simple. Almond milk and vegan ‘butter’ are more or less cup for cup, but gluten-free flours? Not so much. There are so many flours that you can combine and in so many different measurements. Weighing is recommended, but I do not have a food scale. I considered picking one up, but after a research-heavy trip at two different stores, I could not even find all the flours I needed to make flour mixture completely from scratch. Luckily Bob’s Red Mill makes an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, so I figured that this mix would do as well, if not better, than some crazy concoction I invented (and better yet, there is a pie crust recipe on the BRM website).

The dough was slightly more sticky than a traditional pie dough, but I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour before attempting to roll it out. Once it was ready to roll, I tried the standard flour and roll method, but gluten-free dough (or at least mine) would not cooperate. Still a bit sticky, it started to peel and fall apart. Bob’s Red Mill suggests extruding the dough between two pieces of wax paper. All I had was plastic wrap and it worked great. I layered the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap that were slightly larger than the 10″ circle on my pie mat. When the dough was roughly the diameter needed, I peeled off the top piece of plastic wrap and flipped the dough over into the pie pan so that the bottom piece of plastic wrap was now on top. Then, carefully and slowly, I simultaneously peeled the plastic wrap off off the crust while shaping it into the pie pan. I cut the excess off with a knife and used the back of a fork to flute the edges.

Once the crust is in the pan, pop it in the freezer for an hour or so. Why? I don’t know, ask Alton Brown. I adapted his Sweet Potato Pie recipe to suit my needs and was afraid to skip this step. The man knows what he’s doing.

The filling is a simple custard. Mashed sweet potatoes, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, egg yolks, and a creamy yogurt/almond milk combo. It’s subtle, it’s deep, it’s all you need to feel warm and fuzzy. Top it with toasted pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup, and you may have just created the perfect Thanksgiving pie. It’s not too sweet, but the depth and complexity of the flavors makes it anything but boring.

The crust was good, but tasted slightly different than a traditional crust, which was too be expected to some extent. It was hard to tell how different it tasted since the pie only called for a single crust. Tomorrow’s apple pie (double crust and all) will be the true test of my gluten/dairy free pie baking abilities.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, gluten-free:

For Crust (adapted from Bob’s Red Mill’s website):

3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour mixture
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
2-3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

Combine flour and salt. Cut margarine into mixture until it begins to resemble cornmeal. Transfer ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment in place. Add almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, scraping down sides as needed. My dough was pretty dry with just 2 tablespoons of almond milk, so I went for the third. Once dough has reached desired consistency, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After dough has had time to chill, remove from plastic wrap and layer in between two pieces of plastic or wax paper that are slightly larger than 9″ diameter marker on pie mat (or freehand it if you’re feeling crazy). Roll dough between plastic wrap, working in all directions. When dough is about 10″ in diameter, peel off top layer of plastic and flip over (using bottom piece of plastic wrap as support). When dough is in the pan, simultaneously shape dough into the pan and carefully peel off remaining plastic. Trim excess dough with a knife and  flute edges with the back of a fork.

For Pie (adapted from Alton Brown’s Sweet Potato Pie):

1 lb, 3 oz sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1.5 tbsp unsulfured molasses
6 oz organic vanilla yogurt
2 oz unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 egg yolks
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 tbsp sugar free pancake syrup
(1) 9″ pie crust, frozen
aluminum foil

Peel, boil, and mash sweet potatoes. Allow to cool approximately 30 minutes so that egg yolks will not cook when ingredients are combined.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine light brown sugar and unsulfured molasses. Blend with a fork until molasses is absorbed. Now you have dark brown sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine sweet potatoes, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and egg yolks. Beat on medium-low speed, or until ingredients are well blended and mixture is smooth.

Pour ingredients into frozen pie crust and cover with foil. Bake approximately 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Top pie with toasted pecans and drizzle with pancake syrup. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until syrup is absorbed.

 

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