I celebrated Thanksgiving with Mark’s family this year. With only 6 of us at the table, it was a little more subdued than my family’s usual 20 person feast. Not that a small Thanksgiving is a bad thing. We watched a lot of football, played soccer with Reggie, Mark’s Family’s dog, and I went for a nice 5.5 mile run outside. Sadly, I had to work on Black Friday, but unlike everywhere else open, work was painfully slow.
This was also the first year I had a lactose-free meal… it was a little hard to accept that my 22nd Thanksgiving would not include butter, cheese or cream. What is Thanksgiving without those things?
It actually ended up being pretty dang good… I ate a ton of Brussels sprouts, cornbread stuffing made with veggie stock and acorn squash roasted in maple syrup. AND vegan pumpkin pie with gluten free crust! (Mark’s dad is gluten free).
The condensed milk was swapped with coconut milk and thickened with agar agar instead of eggs. Agar agar is basically ground up red algae and when heated and mixed with water it becomes a gelatinous substance. Oh the wonders of biology. I picked up some agar agar and the other necessary ingredients (vegetable shortening and tapioca flour) at the local coop, in bulk.
I also picked up King Arthur’s new gluten free multi-purpose flour… It was the best gluten free flour I’ve worked with and I was supporting local! As an added bonus, it doesn’t contain xanthan gum like some other gf flours… xanthan gum can cause upset stomachs in some people.
The crust was kind of labor intensive, there are many crucial steps and some tips that I picked up from Simply Gluten Free.
- make sure everything is cold… put ice in your water and put shortening in the freezer for 30 minutes before using it
- use a food processor to incorporate the shortening.. it will make the crust flakier
- skimp on the water… the dough should only stick together when pressed with your fingers
- let the dough rest for 1/2 an hour before rolling… it lets the moisture distribute evenly
- don’t try to roll the dough out…. extrude it by placing it between two floured sheets of wax paper.
- use the highest quality ingredients you can afford… it really does make a difference, especially the flour
Since gluten-free baking is a tricky beast, I didn’t really stray from the original recipe. The dough had the consistency of shortbread cookie dough, and was pretty prone to cracking which can be frustrating to a perfectionist like me. I think next time I’d just buy a pre-made gluten free crust, but it was defiantly worth the experience. Plus, I wanted to use my festive little leaf cookie cutters before fall ends.
For the Crust, from Simply Gluten Free1/2 cup of organic vegetable shortening (I used spectrum brand) 2-4 tablespoons of water (I used 3) 1 1/4 cups of gluten free multi-purpose flour, such as King Arthur 1/2 teaspoon of salt 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
Follow the tips and directions here, a lot of the steps are crucial so follow it closely… it’s also a long process. Don’t start it at 9 pm like I did.
For the Pie, from the Blender, a William Sonoma Blog1 15oz can of pumpkin puree 1/2 cup of maple syrup (look for kosher label to ensure its vegan, if need be) 1 can of coconut milk (14oz) 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour (found in bulk section) 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice 1/2 teaspoon of salt splash of vanilla extract 3/4 cup of water 2 teaspoon of agar agar powder, (not flakes or bars, found in bulk section)
Blend together the pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut milk, tapioca flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla extract, in a large bowl and set aside.
In a sauce pot bring the 3/4 cup of water and agar agar to a boil, stirring constantly. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes then stir in the pumpkin mixture and return to a boil. Let thicken for 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring it constantly.
Pour the mixture into the prebaked pie shell. Refrigerate for 3 to 5 hours, until set and firm. Serve chilled or at room temp.