Article by:Dr Fiorella Amodio
Gluten free flour has less protein than wheat flour, making pastry a difficult task for even the most seasoned home baker. Read on to learn top tips and tricks for how to make gluten free pastry.
Converting from non-GF recipes
It is not a good idea to try to convert a regular pastry recipe into a gluten free one, unless you are very familiar with the recipe and your gluten free ingredients. You will always need to add xanthan gum (or other binding agents) to a pastry recipe; it is crucial to the structure of the dough.
To roll or not to roll?
Gluten free pastry tends to be more delicate and crumbly than one containing gluten, which makes it difficult to roll. You can use different techniques to transfer your pastry to your pie dish or tart tin, such as rolling the dough in between two sheets of cling film, or just flatten and press into the tin or dish.
Cold is best
All ingredients should be cold, especially any butter or fat. Some chefs even recommend freezing the butter and then grating it in the food processor. Some recommend chilling the gluten free flour, and even the utensils, blades and mixing bowls. Since all ingredients should remain cold, using a food processor for making the pastry is preferred to avoid creating heat by using your hands.
Don't add too much water, just add enough liquid so that all ingredients hold together when pressed between your fingers.
Give it a rest
Resting and chilling gluten free pastry is a must. Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge, or even overnight. After chilling, let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Chilling helps to bind the ingredients and resting at room temperature helps to avoid breakage while rolling.
Rethink the lid
Making lidded pies is tricky when using gluten free pastry since the dough is crumbly and doesn't have the elasticity and strength of a wheat pastry. You can try other options instead, such as a lattice top, or cut out shapes from the pastry and place them on top of the filling. A crumble topping is another option, made with gluten free flour, of course!
If you absolutely want to make a lidded pie with gluten free pastry, try this method: for the pastry case, place ball of dough in the centre of your dish or tin, cover with cling film, then press evenly with the bottom of a glass till the entire base is covered.
For the lid, use the 'extrusion method': roll the pastry between two sheets of lightly floured parchment. Transfer with the parchment to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours before peeling off the parchment and covering your pie. If it breaks, don’t panic, just use water to glue the pastry back together.