My mom was known for her flaky pie crust where as I am more fond of a firm 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 if you are new to a gluten free diet. A simple bottom only tart shell is a good place for gluten free bakers to start. As you get practise working with pastry and gain confidence you can tackle any pastry project you want.
“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 do once a year. But once you’ve made pastry, at least three times I think, 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 don’t make pie too often but I’ve done it enough to know the techniques.
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 think I just bought it when I saw it because it was 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.
More Recipes and Help With Pastry
This Fruit Pizza has a cookie crust but it is a similar technique.
If you love Pumpkin Pie, or pie in general, then learning to make it is worth the effort. Plan to make one pie each season to keep up your skills.
|1¼ cups white rice flour|
|1 cup tapioca starch|
|1 Tbsp sugar|
|½ tsp baking soda|
|½ tsp xanthan gum|
|½ tsp salt|
|½ cup vegetable shortening, cold and cut into chunks|
|¼ cup butter, cold and cut into chunks|
|½ cup cold milk|
- In a medium bowl or food processor measure the white rice flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum (see notes) and salt. Mix completely.
- Add the butter and shortening and mix or pulse until the texture of a coarse meal with pea-size pieces.
- Add the milk and mix until just combined.
- Scrape from the bowl onto a piece of wax paper. Sprinkle with tapioca starch to form the dough into a ball that you can move around. Top with another piece of wax paper and pat down to form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. *If desired divide the dough into 2 pieces and wrap them individually. This is preferable if you are making individual tarts.*
- Place the cold pastry on the counter with wax paper on both sides. Peel top paper off and lightly dust the dough with tapioca starch. Flip it over and lightly dust the other side.
- Put the wax paper back on top and using a rolling pin starting in the center, roll the dough out to the desired thickness (about ⅛ inch). Flip the dough over and peel the paper off both sides always replacing it as you like. Dust the dough with more tapioca starch if it is too wet.
- Slip a flexible cutting board under the bottom wax paper. Peel off the top paper and carefully flip/place the pastry onto the tart pan. Gently lift the sides and push the pastry into the ridges on the edge of the pan. Use a knife, rolling pin or your hands to push off the overhanging pastry.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork.
- Bake in a 325°F oven for 18 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before filling. Fill as desired with vanilla cream, lemon curd or fruit pie filling.