My mom was known for her flaky pie crust where as I'm more fond of a crisp and crumbly tart crust. This gluten free tart crust is made with only white rice flour and tapioca starch, two staples you may have bought when you were new to gluten free. It's easy to make and works every time.
I always think of a simple tart shell as a good place for gluten free bakers to start. As you get practise working with pastry and gain confidence you can tackle more challenging pastry projects.
"Everything is hard before it's easy."J.W. Goethe
One of the reasons pastry is intimidating for home cooks is because they never make it! You can’t expect to be good at something you only make once a year. But, once you've made a recipe, at least three times, you'll have the required skills to make tarts and pies all year long or only once a year. It's like riding a bike, you never forget. I didn't make pie too often until I started teaching my Master Gluten Free Pastry cooking class. I keep learning new techniques and try different ideas all the time. Whether you're making flaky pie pastry or a crisp tart crust, I guarantee you'll increase your confidence by making a few desserts.
Kitchen Tip - Precise Measuring
Pastry is intimidating to many people so you might think gluten free pastry is even more difficult to make. Well it isn’t. Baking in general requires more precise measuring than cooking so here are a few tips to pay attention to.
- Be precise with your measurements.
- Liquid cups should sit on the counter and be read at eye level rather than holding the cup in the air.
- Use proper measuring spoons, not just kitchen spoons.
- Dry cups should have flour scooped into them and then be levelled off with a straight edge.
Organize for Success - Baking Tips
Chilled fat (butter, shortening or lard) is one of the keys to making pastry in general. Butter provides flavour and shortening makes pastry flaky. But, for gluten free bakers some of these rules don't apply so be open to recipes (like my all butter pie pastry) that have been altered to accommodate the unique properties of different gluten free flours. Incorporating fat into the flour is a fairly easy step that can be done by hand with a pastry cutter or more quickly in a food processor or stand mixer.
Another tip for working with pastry is to use waxed paper or plastic wrap on both sides of the dough. This makes it easy to flip the dough back and forth while shaping it to fit your pan. Pastry is delicate and the paper helps prevent it from tearing. Keeping it cool is also important so put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes when it's too warm to work with.
Get The Tools
Tart pans come in different shapes and that makes your presentation different right from the start. I made this tart crust in my long rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. After I bought that cool looking pan, I determined that I needed to buy a similar shaped serving dish. I've made many purchases like this but doesn't that presentation look awesome! I think so.
Tart pans with removable bottoms are easy to use for many desserts so I have a collection:
- Round tart pans in 6-inch, 9-inch, 10-inch and a big 14-inch one I use to make my cookie pizza.
- Individual tart pans for the same desserts made in single serving size.
- An 8-inch square pan with removable bottom. I bought it the first time I saw it because pans with a removable bottom were new to me and I always like to try anything a bit different.
Another bonus with these pans is the protection you get when transporting the dessert. I keep the sides on to prevent breakage in the freezer or the car, then remove it for the final presentation at the party I'm taking it to.
Fresh Fruit Tart
I filled this tart with my vanilla cream and topped it with blueberries. A simple glaze of melted jelly, mixed with a little liqueur if you like, gives it a shine and that store-bought, gourmet look. Finish it off with some edible flowers it they are available. Check out my post on edible flowers if you're interested in growing or using them.
I say homemade pastry is easier than you think. Try this recipe and let me know in the comments below what you thought.