Friday, December 17, 2010

Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free Pecan Pie

The December Carnival of Natural Parenting was all about traditions. Reading about everyone's traditions (combined with this time of year) made me feel a little sentimental about traditions I used to enjoy with my family in the Fall and early Winter.

Pecan pie is a bit of a tradition in my family of origin, since my parents both grew up in the South. My Dad's mother used to send us a big box of pecans for Christmas every year, so pecan pie is a holiday treat I remember enjoying very much as a child. It's always been a favorite for holidays in my husband's family, too.

The first dish Jaymz and I ever cooked together was rattlesnake pasta, but the second was a pecan pie. Over the past few years, this pie has become our contribution to the Thanksgiving gathering of our family here in the Pacific Northwest. When I gave up wheat and gluten for the month, I didn't think much about how it would impact our Thanksgiving pie offering. But then I realized I was going to have to come up with an acceptable gluten-free alternative to the usual pie crust. I think I did a bang-up job, for someone who doesn't really like baking (I don't like to measure things). Even though we were too sick to go to Seattle this year, I'll definitely be making this again to share next Thanksgiving.

So here, I share with you, a version of our traditional dessert: gluten-free pecan pie.

For the crust, you will need:
½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Bob's Redmill brand)
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
¾ cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
½ cup (8 Tablespoons) vegetable shortening
6-8 Tablespoons ice water
(This makes enough for two pie crusts, so you can make two pecan pies, use this for a double-crust pie, freeze half for later, or half the recipe. I went with the first option and made two pies.)

For the filling, you will need:
2 cups roasted pecans, halved
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
 teaspoon salt
 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

First, get your pecans roasting:

  • Preheat your oven to 225°F. Spread pecans out evenly in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in your preheated oven until toasted and fragrant, stirring every 15 minutes, (it'll take about 1 hour). 
  • Cool on pan, then chop most of them in half, leaving a handful of whole ones. 
  • Set aside.

While the pecans are roasting, make the pie crust:

  • Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. (Or, you can use a pastry blender or, like I did, two knives.)

  • Add the butter and pulse four times. Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and pulse four more times:
    What's important is that the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal when you're finished, with the bits of butter and shortening very small (no bigger than pea-sized).

  • Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture, and incorporate it into the dough. You'll know the dough is ready when you pinch it and it holds together. If it doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just begins to hold together.
  • Remove dough from the food processor or bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into two balls. Wrap each one in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling them out. (You will only need one of them if you are making just one pecan pie.)

While the crust is chilling, make the pie filling:

  • Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, melted butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir until well blended:

  • Beat eggs in a separate bowl, then add to the corn syrup mixture. Stir until the mixture looks as it did before you added the eggs.
  • Set aside.

Next, roll out the pie crust:

  • Sprinkle a bit of flour on a flat, clean surface and on top of the dough you're working with. (You may have to let the dough sit out of the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes so it can soften before you roll it out.)
  • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out from the center of the mound, until it is large enough that, when you place your pie pan/dish on top of it, it extends about two inches all around.

  • Transfer your dough to your pie pan or dish.Here's the trick we had to use with the gluten-free dough: Since it's not very elastic—having no gluten will do that—it was quite crumbly. To make transfer of the dough to the pie pan easier, we rolled the dough out on top of a piece of plastic wrap, so that then it could be gently lifted off of the counter without crumbling apart. It worked like a charm!

  • Pinch with your fingers all the way around the edge of the crust, making an even rippling pattern along the edge. You may have to trim off a bit of excess dough to make it even on the edges:

You're almost finished!

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Fill the pie crust by putting the roasted pecans in the bottom, then pouring the pie filling over them:

  • Wrap the crust edges in foil to prevent them from burning:

  • Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean:

  • Allow to cool, then serve.
There it is, my friends: our new and different, but still traditional pecan pie. I hope this recipe will add a little extra sweetness to your holiday celebrations this year!

Linked up at Vegetarian Foodie Fridays at Breastfeeding Moms Unite!, Friday Food at Momtrends, Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker, Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home, and Recipe Swap at Prairie Story.


  1. I love that you roast the pecans first - your pie sounds delicious!!

  2. That's a lot of work you did to make that pie and this post! And a beautiful pie it is! I love pecan pie. It is a true treat!

  3. @Melodie: Thank you! I think it's my longest/most involved recipe to date, and it took a while to put together. Maybe I'll take a break next week.... =)


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