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Traditional Pecan Pie with a Gluten Free Pie Crust

by Susan Salzman
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pie pecan smI have been an avid reader of Cooks Illustrated Magazine since 1980. In the November/December 1995 issue they had Perfect Pecan Pie – 3 ways. A traditional, a triple chocolate chunk, and a maple-pecan.

Of course, I had to try each version. The chocolate, although good, it was too sweet. The traditional was my favorite and remains my favorite to this day.  The original recipe calls for corn syrup. Over the last few years I have become hyper aware of what is going in not only my body, but my kids bodies as well. Soda is off limits, as are “air heads” or any other type of candy of that nature, no pre-packaged cookies, and making my own condiments, sauces, and marinades is a weekly activity.

Thanksgiving is upon us and Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without my pecan pie. Yet, how was I going to avoid using corn syurp in this dessert? Then I remembered a conversation I had had with my friend Carrie and she discovered that if one cooks maple syrup to 225°F, it becomes a good alternative to corn syrup. I gave it a try.

It came pretty darn close to the original, yet a bit sweeter.  Once smothered in vanilla ice cream, you couldn’t tell the difference. I also opted to switch up the crust. As I start to play with omitting white sugar and white flour from our diet, experimenting with alternative ingredients can be a hit and miss endeavor. I am not there yet and I have a long way to go, but I am giving myself E for effort. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I turned once again to Carrie and made one of her crusts.  Happily, result was positive.

As I share a piece of this pie with you, I am also sharing many more wonderful recipes from friends, those that I admire from afar, as well as blogs that I enjoy reading. What are you making this Thanksgiving and how are you showing those that you love and adore you are grateful to have them in your life?

Traditional Pecan Pie with a Gluten Free Pie Crust
Yield: 1 9″ pie

Carrie’s Gluten Free Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup(8 oz.) unsalted, cold butter, cut into cubes

for the filling:
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 large, organic eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. pure, vanilla extract
2 cups(8 oz.) pecans, toasted and chopped

For the pie crust:
Cut the butter into cubes and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. In the work bowl of a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, pulse the gluten free flour mix, rice flour, oat flour, unflavored gelatin, and the sea salt. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to get good and cold.

Remove the work bowl from the freezer and give it a pulse or two. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal or grainy sand. Add about 10 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time. Pulse after each addition. You want the dough to just come together to form a ball. If you add too much water you will have a wet, sticky dough – and you don’t want that. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

On a lightly floured work surface (I use a marble slab), roll pastry into a 14″ disc and 1/8-1/4″ thick. Carefully wrap disc around your rolling pin and place in your into your pie dish. Decorate the edges of the dough either by crimping with your fingers or with the back of a fork. Using a fork, prick the dough about 20 times to prevent air bubbles. Line pie crust with heavy duty foil and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove pie crust from the freezer and fill the dish with pie weights or pennies. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Carefully remove foil and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes. Set aside.

This can be done a day in advance. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature.

For the Filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 275°F.

While the pie crust is baking, place 1 cup of maple syrup in a heavy duty sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached. Simmer until thermometer reaches 225°F. In a medium, glass bowl, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, sea salt, and vanilla. When maple syrup is ready, pour into the bowl and whisk until all is combined.

Beat eggs in another bowl. temper the eggs by adding a 6 tablespoon (1 tablespoon at a time) to the beaten eggs. Once combined, add the egg mixture to the maple syrup/sugar mixture. Add the vanilla. Mix in the pecans and pour entire contents into the parbaked pie shell.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until the center feels soft when gently pressed. Place on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. We like it topped with vanilla ice cream!


Susan Salzman writes The Urban Baker blog to explore her dedication to good food in the hope of adding beauty to the lives of her family and friends.  

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