Two Thanksgiving Pies (with gluten-free variations)

This is a gluten-free pie crust!

My grandfather made delicious lard pie crusts.  He showed me how to do it when I was in junior high.  When he was baking, my grandpa was like a magician who could not wait to finish his spell and enchant you with it.  He knew that he was going to make everyone so happy with his pie.  It was one of his many super powers.  I do not know where to get good lard in NYC, so sadly I do not make my grandfather’s pie crust recipe anymore. However, I do feel like I am doing a magic love spell when I make pie. I have some really good pie recipes that I have used for years from The Little Pie Company Cookbook.  They are stupendous pies.  I have written them here in their perfect form, all you need to do is add the love.  I have included an excellent recipe for gluten-free pie crust also.  Both of these pies are delicious in that crust as well.  I do not feel the same love spell feeling when I make the gluten-free pie because I am making it more for myself than for others, but it is REALLY nice to be able to have a good slice of pie without getting sick.

SAMBUCA PEAR PIE IN A TENDER  CRUST (from The Little Pie Company)

This recipe makes one double crust pie.  I usually double the recipe because it calls for 1/2 of an egg.  It annoys me to waste an 1/2 an egg and it is never a good idea to change quantities when baking, so I just double the recipe and freeze half of it for future pie!  Also, this is a vegetable shortening crust.  I have to say that you should just use Crisco.  I know its bad for you, but the health store version does not make good pie crust.  If Crisco grosses you out you should make one of the other pie crusts.  This crust IS the best one for pear sambuca pie though.  The combination of pear, licorice and lemon is really special.

Rich and Tender Pie Crust

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • half of 1 whole beaten egg
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl beat together the water, egg and vinegar
  3. Using your fingers, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it is the size of small peas.
  4. With a fork, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Stir only until the liquid is incorporated and the dough begins to form a ball.  DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH!
  5. Use your hands to form a 6 inch disk.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes and for up to 12 hours.  While it chills, make the filling.

Pear Sambuca Pie Filling

  • 3 pounds firm, ripe Anjou pears (about 6)
  • 1 Tb Sambuca
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  1. Peel the pears. Core the pears, cut in to eight lengthwise slices and then cut each slice in half.
  2. In a large bowl combine the pear chunks with the lemon juice, lemon peel and the sambuca.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch and sugar together and add it to the pears, combining well
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge.  Divide it into two disks and roll out one of them a floured surface.
  6. Line your pie tin with the crust and make a high fluted edge (this is a juicy pie and the high edge will keep it from overflowing)
  7. Mound the fruit in the center of the pie and dot it with the butter.
  8. Roll out the second half of the pie dough on a floured surface.  Flour the top and gently fold the dough in half. flour it again and fold it into a wedge shape.
  9. Lift the dough onto the pie so that it covers 1/4 of it and unfold it to cover the whole pie.
  10. Press the edges of your top and bottom crust together and cut four vents in the top of the pie
  11. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. I put my pie on top of a baking sheet just in case the juice overflows.
  12. Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for 50 minutes more.  Meanwhile make the glaze

Sambuca Lemon Glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sambuca

Combine the glaze ingredients and pour over the pie as soon as it comes out of the oven.

CRANBERRY RAISIN PIE IN A VEGETABLE OIL CRUST (from the Little Pie Company Cookbook)

This pie is not too sweet!  The crust has a lovely crispy and flakey quality and tends to be a bit easier for less confident bakers to make.

Vegetable Oil Dough

  • 2 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tb cold milk
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl combine the oil and milk.
  3. Pour the liquids all at once in to the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. It will be crumbly.
  4. Press the dough together and divide it into 2 flat, round disks.
  5. Cut four 12 inch squares of wax paper
  6. Roll the disks of dough out between two layers of wax paper, flipping several times to smooth out wrinkles.

Cranberry Raisin Filling

  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries (coursly chopped or if you are meticulous, halved)
  • 1 cup of dark raisins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tb flour (gluten-free flour works just fine)
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (I use much more than this!)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 Tb heavy creme
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the cranberries, raisins, sugar, flour, ginger and salt in a large bowl and combine well.
  3. Remove one layer of wax paper from one of the rolled out of doughs.  Flip the dough in to the bottom of a pie tin.  Pull the second layer of wax paper off and press the crust into the tin, repairing any cracks with your fingers.
  4. Mound the cranberry mixture into the lined pie tin and dot the fruit with the butter.
  5. Remove one sheet of wax paper from the second half of the dough.  Flip the dough onto the top of the pie.  Remove the second wax sheet. Crimp the top and bottom pie crusts together.
  6. Cut some vents in the top of the pie and brush the crust with some heavy creme.
  7. Bake 15 minutes at 425. I place my pie tin on top of a baking sheet to catch juice.
  8. Reduce  the heat to 350 and bake 45 minutes longer.

GLUTEN FREE PIE CRUST (From Gluten-Free Baking Classics)

Gluten-free baking does not offer the alchemical thrill that wheat bakery does.  Wheat is magic.  It is so cooperative!  I will not pretend that the gluten-free crust is fun to make.  Gluten-free baking is picky and tricky.  Do not omit ingredients or change the amounts.  The good news is that the gluten-free crust is really good!  If you cannot eat gluten you deserve some really good pie….. so make yourself one!  Also, the gluten-free crust keeps really well.  Your pie will be delicious for days and days.  Everyone else’s pie will be a gluey shadow of its former self within half a day.  So there!

Gluten Free Pie Mix

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cups potato starch (NOT POTATO FLOUR)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour

This will make a little more flour than you will need for a double crust pie.  You can use the extra for flouring your rolling surface.

Gluten free Pie Crust

  • 2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons gluten-free pie mix
  • 4 Tablespoons sweet rice flour (also known as mochi or glutinous rice flour)
  • 2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons lemon or orange juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter a pie tin and dust it with rice flour.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  4. Cut the butter in to the dry ingredients and use your fingers to combine until it has the consistency of course cornmeal.
  5. Whisk the eggs and juice together.
  6. Add the liquid to the flour and butter and combine into a ball.  Divide the ball into two disks.
  7. Measure out four 12 inch sheets of wax paper.  Roll each disk of dough out between two sheets of wax paper.  Sometimes, when I don’t have wax paper on hand I roll it out between plastic wrap or just roll it out on a floured surface.  If you are a beginner I would use the wax paper, becasue ti really does make it easier!
  8. Remove one of the sheets of wax paper and flip the dough into the pie tin.
  9. Remove the second sheet of wax paper and press the dough in to the pie tin using your fingers to repair any cracks.
  10. Bake the bottom crust for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
  11. Mound the pear or cranberry filling in to the pie and dot with butter.
  12. Remove another sheet of wax paper and flip the other half of the dough onto the top of the pie.
  13. Crimp the top and bottom edges of the pie crust together.
  14. Cut vents in the top of the pie.
  15. If you are making the cranberry pie, brush the top with heavy creme.
  16. Bake the pie for another 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees.  I place my pie tin on top of a baking sheet to catch juice.
  17. If you are making pear sambuca pie make the glaze while the pie is baking and pour it on the pie as soon as it comes out.

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