Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The From-Scratch GF Baking Chronicles (Pie in Your Eye Edition)

After almost 10 years of being gluten-free, I have just this month delved into GF from-scratch baking in a real way. Back in my gluten-eating days, I was a darn fine baker, if I do say so myself. Back then, I didn't have the patience for cooking, but was somehow an intuitive baker, able to tweak recipes such that they were supported by the laws of food science and turned out beautifully. Sadly, GF baking just isn't that forgiving. Since a few disastrous turns with some rice flour and such many years ago, I've left the baking to the professionals, save for the occasional GF boxed mix. Until now. Behold project #1, chocolate pie:

A little lumpy, a little lopsided - but aren't we all?

I have been given a number of GF cookbooks as gifts. These kind-hearted souls have the best of intentions, but those books calling for 5 different flours and two gums leave me cold. I live in NYC. My kitchen is a glorified closet. I do not have room to store all of these flours, products, and special pans. (Heck, I don't have room for the cookbooks. This pie recipe was courtesy of storage-friendly Twitter, thank you.) Things need to do double duty around here. I do not - and will not - buy tin foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, AND wax paper. Tin foil does the trick most of the time, so I buy a big roll on sale and make do with that. I also (gasp!) use foil pans on occasion. I RARELY roast a massive piece of meat, like a turkey. So when I do, I buy a disposable pan, kill the environment a little, and don't have to figure out where to store an enormous pan the other 364 days a year.

But I digress. This is about the pie. I used a simple crust recipe from the lovely Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. (Unable to procure the Better Batter flour blend she calls for, I substituted King Arthur's all-purpose GF flour.) I was in the mood for a chocolate pudding pie and used a filling recipe from fellow NYC blogger Smitten Kitchen.

The pie? It was good. I kept it from being great. I have to admit that it's time to allow some more utensils into my kitchen. I ditched all of my baking gear post diagnosis and have kept my kitchen lean since, well, I'm in NYC. But a rolling pin, heavy bottomed saucepan, and whisk would have made this better. As it was, I couldn't roll that crust out thin enough and undercooked the pudding since I was afraid of it burning in my dinky saucepan with my meager spoon stirring. Lesson learned.

Also? Leading off with pie crust in my GF baking education may not have been the smartest idea. Pie crust - GF or not - is notoriously difficult to keep tender and flaky. And this is a new skill set I'm after; practice is in order. So we'll come back to crust. Next up: BREAD!

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