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Gluten Free Pie Secrets

I received wonderful feedback from my Turkey 101 Newsletter and many requests for my gluten free pie recipes. So I thought I would include my tested and TK Ranch family favourite recipes below.

Gluten Free Pie

When I discovered I was celiac in 2001 it changed my life — and the eating habits of my family. Our children had been raised on home-made bread, buns, pita, scones, muffins and everything else you can imagine. But without wheat flour in my diet this quickly ground to a halt — no pun intended. After years of experimenting with many different flours we came across Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. It seems to be a good all-round substitute for quick breads like muffins and cakes and for making pastry. The following pastry recipe has been in my family for well over a hundred years. My great grandmother Ella Davis ran a stopping house with her family on the Athabasca Landing Trail north of Edmonton in the early 1900s. She used this pastry recipe for the pioneers traveling north to settle homesteads. I have adapted my great grandmother’s recipe only by adding a small amount of baking powder to help give the gluten-free flour an extra bit of lift.

I always make enough pastry to make one double crust and two single crust pies (9 inch). For this you will need:

  • Wax paper to roll out the dough — without this you will have a difficult time picking up the gluten-free pastry without it falling apart
  • 5 cups gluten free flour (or wheat pastry flour for those that are not gluten intolerant)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 3 large eggs — two separated and one whole — you will only need the whites from 2 of the eggs
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb butter (or lard if you have made some)
  • Ice cold water
  • 3 pie plates

Put all of the ingredients you are going to use into the refrigerator overnight to make them really cold (including the bowl if possible) — this is one of the secrets of making perfect pastry whether you are using gluten-free flour or not. You can take the butter out about an hour before you are going to make the pastry to temper it a bit and make it easier to work with.

  1. Measure the flour into the bowl and mix in the salt and baking powder.
  2. With a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is the size of small peas — do not use your hands to do this, even if it is easier — you will warm up the mixture and make the dough tough. Don’t make the mixture any finer than the size of peas — you want the butter to help lift the flour and make the pastry as flaky as possible.
  3. Crack one egg into a measuring cup and add the apple cider vinegar, whisk with a fork. Add ice water to the egg/vinegar mix to the one cup mark and whisk again.
  4. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and gently mix with a wooden spoon — another secret is not over-mixing the flour — when you are able to press it and it sticks together stop mixing it. It should not be dry and crumbly so you might need to add a few more tablespoons of ice water to get the pastry to the perfect consistency — but add this extra amount a little at a time because unlike wheat flour this mixture will get really sticky if too much water is added.
  5. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in wax paper and let it rest for an hour in the refrigerator — this will give you time to prepare your pie fillings (see below).
  6. Spread wax paper on the counter and get out your pie plates.
  7. Separate one egg — you will only need the white.
  8. Retrieve your pastry, unwrap it and cut it in half. Put half back into the refrigerator.
  9. Cut the pastry in half again and place one portion in the center of the wax paper. With a cold rolling pin start in the center of the portion and gently roll the pastry until it is about half a centimeter thick trying to keep the thickness fairly even. You can coat the rolling pin with a little GF flour if it is sticking. The circle will need to be wide enough to cover the pie plate. Don’t roll it too thin because it will tear easily. Place the pie plate upside down over the pastry and gently slide your hand under the wax paper. With a steady hand turn over the pie plate and center the pastry. Remove the wax paper — do this slowly as it may be stuck a little. Press the pastry into the pie plate — don’t worry if some of the pastry hangs over the edges as it will be utilized later.
  10. Take a fork and prick the inside of the pastry shell several times — poke right through the pastry to the pie plate. Take the egg white and pour it into the pie shell and spread it around gently with the fork until it covers the entire surface. Pour the remaining egg white back into the container it was in — you will use it for the top crust in a minute. Putting egg white into the pie shell is an ingenious tip that my grandmother taught me to prevent the pastry from getting soggy from the filling. Set the pie shell aside and let the egg white dry.
  11. Prepare the fruit filling — cranberries (see recipe below), apples or whatever your family likes — and pour it into the prepared shell.
  12. Prepare the top crust by repeating number 10 above (use new wax paper or it will rip!) — only when you have finished rolling out the pastry gently pick up the wax paper and flip it over on top of the fruit filling. Center the pastry on top of the filling and remove the wax paper gently — if you rush you might tear the pastry. Once the wax paper is removed you will want to seal the edges — I simply fold the bottom edges of the pastry over the top edges and press them together. If there is a lot of pastry hanging over the edges you can always trim it a bit before sealing. Most people simply use a fork to press the edges together. I put four small slits in the top of the pastry to let steam escape during the baking process; this also help keep it from getting soggy.
  13. Take the remaining egg white and spread it over the sealed edges and top of the pastry. I take a little cane sugar and sprinkle it on top of the egg white because it browns nicely and really makes the pie look pretty once baked.
  14. Place the pie in the center of your oven and bake for 40 minutes or until well browned.

TK Ranch Cranberry Pie Filling

When I first moved to TK Ranch in 1989 my mother-in-law Mary Biggs made cranberry pie. I had never heard of making a pie out of cranberries but it was fantastic. It has been a Thanksgiving staple in our home ever since. This unusual filling is tangy yet sweet — the almond extract really makes the difference! Serve with home-made vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

For one double crust pie (9 inch) you will need:

  • 1.5 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries (you can add apples and chopped pecans to make it extra special too)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix the sugar, flour and salt together in a medium saucepan —s this will help distribute the flour evenly in the filling and keep it from being lumpy when you add the water.
  3. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly until it is smooth. Turn down the heat a bit and add the remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes until the cranberries begin to pop.
  4. Fill your prepared gluten-free double crust pie shell as discussed above.

TK Ranch Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

On TK Ranch we prefer a pumpkin pie that sets up like custard with lots of flavour. This is accomplished by using rich ingredients and lots of fresh eggs.

For two single crust pies you will need:

  • 4 cups of pure pumpkin (puree)
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar (or packed brown sugar)
  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat very well until smooth and creamy.
  3. Retrieve remaining pastry from the refrigerator and prepare two gluten free pie shells as described above and prick with a fork. Trim the sides and press edges with a fork.
  4. Coat pie shells and edges with egg white and let dry.
  5. Fill with prepared pumpkin and place in the center of your oven. In 15 minutes turn down the temperature to 325F and leave them in the oven until the pies begin to crack in the middle. Take them out and let cool. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

I hope you and your family enjoy these recipes!

All the best,


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