When I was a kid my mum had a café, which was well known for having the best sweet and savoury pies in town. I spent many, many hours watching her in the kitchen, mesmerised by the process of creating something so beautiful from a handful of simple ingredients.
This delicious and wholesome pastry crust (pictured above is the gluten free version) can be used for other pie and tart recipes, including savoury pies (just leave out the sugar). Using larger pieces of cold fat or coconut oil in the pastry and ice-cold water helps create the flaky layers in the pastry while it bakes. But the secret to a super flaky crust is in the technique. This recipe uses my mum’s pastry crust method, which consistently creates the most beautiful, flaky pie crust. And no one will be able to tell it is gluten-free. Not even my mother.
I have also included a basic flaky pastry recipe using wheat flour for those who tolerate gluten and wheat. The two pastry doughs can be made in advance and frozen. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then leave on the bench for 30 minutes before dividing and rolling out. The tarts can also be made up in advance and frozen whole and unbaked for up to a month. Follow the baking instructions as normal to bake them when it suits.
I broke up the recipes up into three different sections to make printing simpler if you are only after one of the parts to this recipe. Just be aware of that when printing.
Gluten-Free Flaky Pastry + Dairy Free option
200g brown rice flour
125g tapioca starch/flour
2 TBLS ground chia or flax seed
¼ tsp sea salt
1 TBLS coconut sugar (or other unrefined sugar)
125g cold butter cut into 1 cm cubes (or dairy-free spread – frozen)
50g cold/firm coconut oil or lard
½ cup ice water
1. In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, ground chia (or flax) seed, sea salt and coconut sugar.
2. Using a pastry cutter, fork or your hands, cut the butter (or butter substitute) and coconut oil or lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs with some ‘pea-sized’ pieces.
3. Add ½ Cup ice water gently mix to form a slightly crumbly dough. The dough should feel similar to a standard pastry dough and should not be sticky, but should come together well when pressed. Do not over mix, as you want to keep the fat as visible pieces in the dough. You may need to add a TBLS or more ice water to get the right consistency.
4. Once the dough is coming together nicely, press down on the dough. Lift dough from the bottom and fold it over on itself and press. Repeat this about 4 times more to bring the dough together. This process is what layers the dough and is the key technique to creating a flaky crust.
5. Shape the dough gently into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and place into the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes (or the freezer for at least 15-30 minutes).
Classic Wheat Flaky Pastry + Dairy-Free option
315g (2 ½ cups) all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 TBLS raw sugar
190g (¾ cup) cold butter cut into 1 cm cubes (or dairy-free spread- frozen)
100g (½ cup) lard or coconut oil, chilled
6+ TBLS ice water
1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
2. Using a pastry cutter, fork or your hands cut the butter (or substitute) and lard or coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces.
3. Sprinkle the 6 TBLS of ice water over the mixture and mix a few times to bring it together into a crumbly dough. It is ready if it holds together when pinched or pressed. If it doesn’t hold together, keep adding more ice water a teaspoon at a time until the dough begins to come together.
4. Press down on the dough and then lift from the bottom and fold it over on itself and press gently again. Repeat this about 4 times more to bring the dough together and to help create the flaky layers.
5. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes (or up to 2 days).
6. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Apple Pie Filling with Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free Option
1200g apples (I used about 7 large Granny Smith)
½ cup coconut sugar (or other sugar you have on hand)
¼ cup brown rice flour (or all purpose flour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
juice of one lemon
2 TBLS butter – melted (or butter alternative or coconut oil)
egg wash – 1 egg + 2 TBLS milk (or melted coconut oil for egg/dairy free)
1. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices that are about 1cm thick and pour over the lemon juice, vanilla extract and melted butter (or substitute) and toss to coat.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, brown rice flour, spices and sea salt. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and toss a few times to coat all of the apples thoroughly and leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Toss the apples in the bowl again just before filling the tarts to cover them in the juices.
Assembling the Tarts
1. Divide pastry dough evenly into 8 pieces (I weigh mine but you can eyeball it too). Place the 7 pieces you are not working with back in the fridge to remain chilled.
2. Dust the work surface and rolling pin with a moderate amount of brown rice flour and roll out your first piece of dough, dusting with flour as necessary, until it is about 4mm thick.
3. Place an eighth of the apple mixture in the centre of each tart and arrange it as you wish. Carefully fold one edge of the pastry in towards the centre of the fruit and continue to fold in the edges all the way around to create a rustic-looking tart. If the pastry cracks, gently pinch it back together as best you can. Using a metal spatula, gently lift the tart and place it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and place into the freezer. Repeat with the remaining tarts.
4. Pour the leftover liquid from the apple mixture into the centre of the tarts. Place the baking trays into the freezer and leave for at least 1 hour to allow the dough to firm up (this is an important step and helps to keep the shape of the crust while baking). You can make the tarts in two batches if it is easier.
5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
6. While the oven is preheating, make the egg wash by beating the egg together with the milk (or melting the oil). Remove the trays from the freezer and brush each tart with the egg wash (or melted oil). Transfer trays to the oven and bake the tarts for 45-60 minutes. The tarts are ready when the crusts are golden brown and the apple filling is bubbling away. If the tarts are browning too quickly, you can cover them loosely with tinfoil until the filling is bubbling fully. Remove foil 5 minutes before the tarts come out of the oven.
Serve warm with whipped cream, coconut cream or ice cream.