Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are of making pumpkin pie with my mama for Thanksgiving. Every year the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we would make two pumpkin pies, you know because you have to have lots of leftovers. And we always made it from scratch, including the crust. Well except for the pumpkin puree. We would used canned pumpkin, but I still say that’s pretty darn close to from scratch! In fact I had never even tried the roll out Pillsbury crust until I was at least 17 or 18. (I don’t feel like I missed out at all on that one).
Making the pie crust (and munching on the dough) was always my favorite part. I had this weird thing for dough of any kind back then: pie crust dough, pizza dough, cookie dough (duh), and my favorite of all, biscuit dough. I was kind of a weird kid. Anyway, the pie crust recipe we always used was one from when my mom was in college. She had a friend who had a cherry tree in her yard and they would bake cherry pies on their study breaks. The recipe was handwritten on an old stained and faded 3 x 5 card and she called it “Never Fail Pie Crust.” And it never did fail us.
In making a nut, egg, and grain free pie crust recipe, I wanted to recreate the texture and taste I remembered from my mom’s pie crust. I wanted to be able to roll out the dough and crimp the edges because that was my favorite part of the process. And I wanted it to hold together when I served that first slice of pie, which is quite the tall order. This pie crust met all these requirements and more!
It is flaky, buttery and delicious, it rolls out quite nicely, especially between two sheets of parchment paper and you can make a beautiful crimped crust with it. It is a little more fragile than traditional dough though so you have to be pretty gentle when placing it in the pie pan. Any cracks or holes are easily mended with a little extra dough. And you don’t have to worry about overworking it because there is no gluten to be overworked!
A little note about the process… I suggest using chilled shortening and chilling the dough before it’s rolled out for a reason. I did a little pie crust research when preparing to make this pie crust and I came across this article about how to create a flaky crust. Apparently the key is cold fat. When placed in the oven, the fat melts and steams which creates little air pockets and these pockets are what makes the crust flaky. So when you cut the shortening into the flour, you want the fat to be about the size of a pea. Don’t worry, it will all come together into a nice ball of dough still. And when you chill your dough, you want it cold but not so cold that it becomes stiff. Too cold dough will crumble when you try to roll it out. If this happens just let it sit out until it becomes more pliable. Thirty minutes of chill time in the refrigerator was just about perfect for me! I had always wondered why we used ice water when making my mom’s pie crust and now I understand. Edited to add: although this technique may work great for traditional wheat based pie crusts, I’ve found that it makes this AIP dough harder to work with and that it isn’t necessary to achieve that flaky texture in this case. For my updated technique see here.
I’ve spent all this time talking about crust, but you can’t forget about the filling! Traditionally, pumpkin pie filling includes eggs and when baked, it comes together into this delicious custard-like pie. In order to replicate this texture, I replaced the eggs with just a smidge of gelatin. This small amount of gelatin allows the pie filling to set in the fridge similar to the way that the traditional egg filled filling does in the oven, but it’s not so much gelatin that it’s like jello.
- 1½ cups tapioca flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbs gelatin
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tbs palm shortening
- 2 Tbs applesauce
- 2 Tbs water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 can pumpkin (15oz)
- 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.5 oz)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbs gelatin
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbs cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ⅛ tsp mace (or ½ tsp nutmeg)
- For the crust:
- Combine flour, salt and gelatin in a mixing bowl
- Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is the size of peas
- Add applesauce, water and vinegar and mix with a spoon until combined
- Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment
- To place in pie pan, remove top layer of parchment, place the pan upside down in the center of the dough and then carefully flip the pan over holding on to the dough
- Remove the remaining layer of parchment paper and gently press the dough into the pan, repairing any cracks as necessary
- Trim excess dough from around the pan and shape the edges as desired
- Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust
- Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes (note: it will not brown as much as a traditional pie crust)
- For the filling:
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan
- Turn heat to medium low and cook until gelatin dissolves completely, stirring constantly, about 5-10 minutes (if gelatin doesn't want to dissolve, pour mixture into a blender and blend until incorporated)
- Pour into baked pie crust and refrigerate until set (about 3 hours)
As you can see, for the photo I used my mini pie pan which I love. If you do this you should be able to get about five mini pies out of the dough and you’ll probably end up with a little extra filling. Just pour the extra filling in a ramekin and enjoy as a custard! Excuse the iPhone photo, but here is what the crust looks like in a normal pie pan. Obviously this isn’t pumpkin pie. I ran out of pumpkin so I made the Coconut Cream Pie from Brittany Angell’s site (sans whipped cream since I’m not a fan.)
I truly believe this pumpkin pie would be a total winner even among your gluten, nut, and egg eating friends and family. I’ve eaten a lot of pumpkin pie in my life (because it’s my absolute favorite) and this is one of the best I’ve tasted. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy it as much as I did. I’ll definitely be making another one for Thanksgiving next week because I’ve about killed this one!
In vibrant health,