Maple Pecan Pie
Gluten-free, Minimal lactose, FODMAP friendly
There’s no corn syrup in this recipe. None. Nada. Its gluten-free crust has a pleasing texture and a slightly nutty flavor, thanks to the butter and oat flour. And the filling … wow! The maple flavor complements the toasted pecans. For best results, use “Grade B” maple syrup, which has better flavor than “Grade A.” Read the instructions and footnotes before you start, and set out all the equipment. Yes, it’s a lot of work—and I tried to over-explain for anyone who’s not pie-experienced. But it’s worth it.
This recipe is only slightly adapted from an excellent recipe on the Leite’s Culinaria website.
- 1 cup commercial gluten-free flour blend or Baking Mix*
- ¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
- ¼ cup potato starch (not potato flour)
- 1 Tbsp sugar or sugar/dextrose blend
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold butter
- 3 ½ Tbsp ice water
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ cups unsalted pecans
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup real maple syrup, preferably Grade B
- 4 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup sugar or sugar/dextrose blend
- 1 tsp salt
- about 2 cups dried beans (you won’t eat them) or pie weights
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix Baking Mix*, oat flour, potato starch, 1 Tbsp sugar, and ½ tsp salt.
- Slice 8 Tbsp cold butter into thin pats. Drop them into the flour mix.
- Using two table knives gripped side-by-side, cut through the butter over and over until it is ALMOST smoothly distributed throughout the flour mix. It should not be quite uniformly mixed. The largest remaining butter bits should be smaller than a pea.
- In a small bowl, mix the ice water and egg yolk with a fork.
- Add egg/water mixture to the flour/butter mixture. Using a sturdy spoon, mix lightly until everything just clings together. If you must add a little more water, that’s all right, but add just a teaspoon at a time. Too much water can yield a tough crust.
- Get a roughly 12 X 16-inch piece of wax paper or parchment paper, and smoosh your dough into a flattened ball about 5-6 inches across. Put it on top of the paper. Fold the paper’s edges over the dough, pop the whole thing into a plastic bag, and tuck it into the refrigerator for 1-24 hours.
- This chilling period is especially vital for gluten-free baking, since it gives the moisture time to equalize throughout the various ingredients.
- Ready to start baking again? Take the dough out of the fridge and leave it on your kitchen counter for 20-30 minutes, to soften slightly.
- Tear off another piece of wax paper or parchment paper, the same size as your other piece. Sandwich the dough between pieces of paper, get out a rolling pin, and roll out the dough into a thin, even circle about 11 inches across. Don’t worry about tears; you can press them back together. Tip: It works best to roll OUTWARD from the center. Keep turning & flipping the paper (dough and all) until it’s roughly circular. Rolling piecrust takes time and practice, but it’s very satisfying.
- Carefully peel off the top sheet of paper. Gently center a greased 9” pie pan on top of the dough, upside down. Take a deep breath. Carefully slide the whole business off the counter and flip it over. Let the dough fall gently into the pie pan, paper and all. Press down carefully, without stretching your dough, to form the piecrust.
- Peel off the top paper, and trim away any dough that hangs over the sides. Use the trimmed bits to patch any tears, moistening the edges and pressing down gently.
- At this point, you can take your thumbs and forefingers and pinch your way around the edge of the crust, creating a pretty scalloped rim.
- Refrigerate 20 more minutes. This lets the crust “relax” into shape, making it less likely to deform during baking.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Remove the pie pan from the fridge. Cover the crust with aluminum foil, making sure the edges are covered (so they won’t get too brown). Fill the foil with dry beans or pie weights; again, this helps the crust hold its shape. Bake 15 minutes.
- Rotate the pie pan, and bake another 15 minutes. Take out the weights and the foil, and bake 6 minutes more. (15 + 15 + 6 = 36 minutes total baking time for the crust).
- Let the crust cool while you prepare the filling, but don’t turn off the oven.
- Chop some of the pecans coarsely; you can leave some halves intact to give the pie a prettier appearance, but if some of the nuts are chopped, the finished pie will be easier to slice.
- Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and slide them into that 350 F oven for about 8 minutes, “until they are brown and fragrant.” Slide them onto a plate and cool about 10 minutes.
- Find a large cooking pan, pour in about 2 inches of water, and put it on the stove to heat. Meanwhile, mix the 3 eggs with the maple syrup in a medium bowl.
- Find another medium-to-large bowl, one that won’t be damaged by heat. Set it atop the water that you’re heating, and make sure the bottom of this bowl touches the water … but don’t let the water run over onto the stove or into the bowl. You have just created a “double boiler.”
- When the water in the bottom of your double boiler starts to bubble, melt the 4 Tbsp of butter in the bowl up top. Stir in the ½ cup sugar and 1 tsp salt.
- Add the egg-syrup mixture to the butter and sugar in the top bowl, and stir carefully. Let the mixture heat until it’s “hot to the touch.” Remove the top bowl from the double boiler; set it on a towel.
- Immediately, stir the cooled nuts into the bowl containing the heated egg mixture.
- Now pour MOST of the heated egg-and-nut filling mixture into the piecrust.** Stop pouring when there’s still a good rim of crust showing (almost half an inch). Pour any remainder into a small, deep, greased baking pan.
- Bake the pie (and the small crustless bonus helping, if you made one) at 350 F for 15 minutes. Rotate the pie pan and bake it another 20 minutes, or until the middle doesn’t jiggle when you jostle the pan.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Slice and serve. It’s up to you whether you want to tell people it’s gluten-free and FODMAP friendly. Refrigerate any leftovers.
- Topping suggestions: warm chocolate ganache*** for all, and you may offer the free-eaters vanilla ice cream. Or enjoy it plain—it’s already rich enough.
* Baking Mix: Most commercial gluten-free flour blends contain ingredients I can’t currently eat (e.g. brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour). I came up with a mix that I use as a substitute when small amounts of flour are called for: Mix 1 cup each of sorghum flour, millet flour, and sweet (sticky) rice flour, plus HALF a cup of tapioca starch. Keep refrigerated.
** Maybe my 9-inch pie pan is unusually shallow, but this recipe made too much filling for it. In my first attempt, filling boiled over the top of the crust and oozed down between the crust and pie pan, cementing the crust to the pan and turning it to a crust-shaped brick—a piecrust-astrophe. I hesitated to decrease all the filling ingredients for this recipe, since the filling came out so well. Anyway, what’s wrong with a little bonus custard?
***Chocolate ganache: Bring ½ cup almond milk to a gentle boil in a small pan over medium heat (stovetop gives better results than the microwave). Reduce heat to low, and stir in 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (and maybe a small chunk of bittersweet baking chocolate). Keep stirring until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is smooth. Refrigerate any leftovers, which will cool to the consistency of a soft truffle (so resist the temptation to polish it off with a spoon). Warming slightly in the microwave will re-melt the ganache.