Late last year, I took a phenomenal pie-making class with award-winning pie maker and master teacher Kate McDermott from Art Of The Pie and I simply had to share the experience with you. I was in incredibly company. Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes graciously hosted; Elise's delightful father, Tom joined us; as well as Amber Stott from Awake At The Whisk and founder of CA Food Literacy; and Jenny Lauck from Three Kid Circus and BlogHer.
We laughed our way through the day, as Kate shared all of her best pie-making tips and tricks. We made pear pies with delectable Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farms. Suffice to say, the pie was sensational! Kate's gentle, fun approach made everything so easy, and we all had an absolute blast. I had a cheek-ache from smiling afterwards. That is always the mark of a fabulous time. Does life get any better? Beautiful people, fresh seasonal produce, and pie!
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I am a plant based eater who consumes a vast amount of raw foods. The percentage of raw foods in my diet depends on the season. I tried 100% raw for a while, but found I needed some heat and cooked foods. Plus, I just enjoy them! I can bake, but I don't consider it my specialty. So, I don't post baked recipes on this blog very often. I have shared some muffins, cakes, pies, and sweet treats here in the past. But there are plenty of other gluten free blogs that offer extraordinary allergy free baked goods. I will leave the baked magic to the experts, and stick to what I do best: green smoothies, drinks, soups, puddings, salads, and a few other things.
Except for today, as I am sharing a recipe from one of the world's foremost pie experts, Kate McDermott. After a life-long love affair with baking, Kate has found a career teaching culinary professionals and baking novices from all over the world to make great pie! Kate's pies have been celebrated by Seattle's top restauranteurs, and have been featured in the country's top publications like The Washington Post and USA Today. Ruth Reichl, after making pie with Kate, was quoted as saying, "absolutely perfect crust filled with fruit that actually sings to you."
I just fell in love with Kate when I met her at a lovely dinner with Amber from Awake At The Whisk, Annelies from The Food Poet, and Dr Jean Layton from Gluten Free Doctor in Seattle before BlogHer Food 2012. I knew I wanted to learn how to make this famous pie! After several emails back and forth, we settled on having a fun little class in Sacramento.
I was not disappointed. The pie crusts Kate shares in her classes and on her blog are the culmination of her years of experimentation and experience. She literally bakes pie every single day! After sampling Kate's phenomenal pies (I made a gluten free version that contained butter) in the class, I wanted more, and so I her to create a gluten free, vegan pie crust that I could happily enjoy, and share here. As expected, she delivered in spectacular fashion. After playing around with countless versions, and using various oils (I was hoping the coconut oil version would triumph), and natural binders like applesauce, whole, flaxseeds ground flaxseeds, ground chia seeds, and psyllium husk powder. After failing to get the "perfect" GF Vegan pie crust, she resorted to the dreaded blue can! Yes! She used Crisco for the first time in years! Success! She decided that this recipe I am sharing today was the closest thing to her regular pie crust, and would give allergy free, vegans a chance to sample her sensational pie.
Kate said in an email to me, "I've been giving the pie project quite a bit of thought and attention over the past weeks. I've tried numerous variations and ingredients with varying results. I want something that approaches both the gluten-full pie dough I teach at my Art of the Pie workshops and also the gluten-free doughs I make and enjoy. Adding the vegan card into has made this quite a bit more challenging."
"The dough I was happiest with is the one that used both Earth Balance and Crisco. I haven't used the later for many years, and I tried it to get a more complete picture of what the different fats would do. The EB/C crust was everything that a pie crust, not just a GF crust but, any pie crust, should be. It was light, flakey and NO one knew it was GF/Vegan. Mouths dropped open when I shared that little piece of info! WIthout Crisco, the crust is probably as good as a GF/Vegan crust can be. I did a brief web-search to find out more about Crisco and how it compares to EB or Spectrum. Not being a nutritionist, I cannot give you any thing that is quotable, but I was surprised to see that Crisco's nutritional %'s didn't look as bad as I thought it would."
"Another challenge was finding something that would substitute for egg to bind it all together. Again, I tried a number of different things and settled on my dear friend Jean Layton's Pixie Dust. I have to say that for any GF/Vegan pies I make, I will most likely use a combo of EB/C and pixie dust."
So, there you go. You can read more about Kate's experimentation in her wonderful blog post. I cannot tell you how many pies Kate made to get to this final recipe. She deserves a pie medal! Oh, wait, that's right, she has tons of those! She isn't the master for nothing! I did enjoy the countless photos sent by text of the various experimental pies. I just marveled at her tenacity and commitment to excellence. Kate, I am just so grateful to you for this recipe.
But, I have to sheepishly admit that I just couldn't bring myself to dip into the little blue can...as much as I love you. Not being a pie aficionado like Kate, I enjoyed the pie crust with a full Earth Balance crust. I thought the pie was fabulous. I will let you decide which version you want to make. I will say, mine did not look as pretty as Kate's pie! So, I decided to use the close up photo Kate took of her Gluten Free Apple Pie so you could all see what her gluten free vegan crust should look like.
Either way, this well perfected pie rocks! This is definitely going to be my Easter treat this year. I deliberately posted a frozen berry pie for all of the international readers, especially my fellow Aussies, who are heading into Winter weather. But, you could easily fill this pie crust with any seasonal fruit filling you like.
We often enjoy pie for Easter, and I have been saving Kate's spectacular recipe especially for this celebration. Enjoy. You can find more amazing pie recipes on Kate's website. It is a one-stop-pie-loving shop!
For those of you interested in learning from Kate, "Art of the Pie" workshops are small and intimate, with about 6 students. They last about 5 hours, and are held regularly in Washington State, and nationally and internationally by special arrangement. Yes! Kate will come to you! What a fabulous bridal shower idea, present for a special birthday, or just something fun do with a bunch of friends. Check out Kate's Pie Camps too. I am thinking of attending the Upper Crust Pie Camp in Montana later this year.
I am arranging another pie class here in L.A later this year. If you are interested, please leave a comment below, and I will email you the details. I would love to have some of you join us in L.A. In every class, you receive a ton of pie recipes, learn how to make great pie crust and fail-safe seasonal fruit fillings with any fruit, plus so much more! Each student makes their own baked pie in the class to take home and enjoy.
For those of you unable to make a pie class, I have listed some of Kate's tip pie-making tips below. Enjoy!
Kate, thank you for tirelessly testing this delectable recipe, and for graciously allowing me to share it here. I love you xxx
Some Hints from Kate about Making Great Crust:
- Chill your work bowl in the freezer
- Wrap flour packet in a plastic bag and store in the freezer
- Keep fats cold
- Keep your hands cold when making dough. Dip in a bowl of ice on a hot day and dry them off well
- If the fats warm up when you are rolling out the dough, or constructing the pie, cover and pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to chill it back up
- Chill your work bowl in the freezer!
Kate's Notes on Rolling Out a GF-Vegan Dough
In general , GF-Vegan doughs are a bit trickier to roll until you get comfortable with its characteristics and temperament practice with a full-top crust with vents. If you have a day when you "just know" it is going to turn out great, try a lattice crust. As in all pie pastry, the main thing is to keep those fats chilled!
Notes about Crisco and oils:
After experimenting with coconut oil, and other plant based oils and fats, this is what Kate said,
"The gluten free vegan dough I was happiest with a combination of both Earth Balance and Crisco. The EB/C crust was everything that a pie crust, not just a GF crust but, any pie crust, should be. It was light, flakey and NO one knew it was GF/Vegan. Mouths dropped open when I shared that little piece of info! Without Crisco, with 100% Earth Balance, the crust is probably as good as a GF/Vegan crust can be."
I just can't bring myself to use Crisco, so I used 100% Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, which I don't use very often either. Not being a pie aficionado like Kate, I thought the pie pastry turned out great. So, I will let you decide what to use.
Hints for Working with Frozen Fruit:
Measure about 1/2 inch below the rim of your pie pan so it will be less likely to run over if your fruits are especially juicy. This is especially true for blackberries, sour cherries, blueberries, and rhubarb.
Frozen fruits, especially rhubarb and cherries can be especially juicy when baked. Quick cooking tapioca (1 tablespoon) works great in combination with a little GF flour (1 - 2 tablespoons) to keep from making "fruit soup". Be sure the tapioca is making slow thick bubbles are adding to ensure it has done its job.
Quick Guide for Sweetening Frozen Fruit for Pies:
Blueberries - 3/4 cup sweetener
Marionberries - 3/4 cup sweetener
Cherries - 1 cup sweetener
Rhubarb - 1 1/3 cup sweetener
Check out Kate's tutorial on how to make pie dough.
Watch Kate's video on how to make lattice crust.
Learn more about Kate McDermott at Art Of The Pie. Register for Kate's Pie Making Workshops. Follow Kate on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest