Gluten Free Custard Pie

Gluten Free Custard Pie

Custard pie in a metal pie dish [pinit] What is a proper gluten free Thanksgiving without some lovely gluten free pie? And what is that pie without just the right gluten free pie crust? Making pie means asking Very Important Questions this time of year. Should you blind bake the crust before filling it, or shouldn’t you? Which crust recipe is best? I’m here for you, with my version of The Right Answers. We have made quite a bit of gluten free pie on this blog, and there is even more in my books, but I have been getting lots of pie questions lately. So let’s take some time out for a simple pie: gluten free custard pie. The filling is a simple but delicious custard, and it gives us a chance to talk about pie crust.

Overhead view of bowls with ingredients for pie on wooden surface

The recipe below is for a single pie crust. If you’re making a double crust pie, like this sour cherry pie, just double the recipe. Whatever you do, most of all I recommend NOT processing your butter until it’s the size of the proverbial “small peas.” That almost always leads bakers to overprocess the butter. And that means your pie crust will not be light and flaky. Light and flaky pastry, gluten free or not, comes from cold chunks of butter surrounded by flour. When the cold butter hits the heat of the oven, it expands and puffs out the flour around it, creating a light and flaky pastry or crust. It’s a little bit of chemistry, and it depends most of all upon architecture. So don’t overprocess that butter!

Custard pie in metal pie dish

You’ll see that, for this pie, a do blind bake the crust. All that means is that I bake the crust at a higher temperature (375°F) for 10 minutes before filling it and completing the baking. The reason for that is that this is a custard pie. For that custard filling to set up properly, it needs to be baked at a much lower temperature (325°F), and for quite a while (about 45 minutes). And 325°F just isn’t the right temperature for a pie crust if you want it to be light and flaky. So, we blind bake. But for a double crust fruit pie, like apple pie, I generally don’t blind bake the bottom crust.

If you have other Thanksgiving pie questions (or just other Thanksgiving questions in general), ask them in the comments below. I know many of you have emailed me with your burning questions and as much as I want to answer them all individually, I’m (as always) woefully behind on answering blog emails as they do tend to pile up and Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I do my level best to respond to everyone, but since time is of the essence, for now ask below!

Soft Olive Garden-Style Garlic Butter Gluten Free Breadsticks

Oh, and before I forget, in case you haven’t seen it yet, Parents Magazine posted a few Thanksgiving tips I have for you plus a very exciting preview recipe from GFOAS Bakes Bread that is perfect for your holiday table. These Soft Olive Garden-Style Garlic Butter Gluten Free Breadsticks!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch pie


1 1/4 cups (175 g) Better Than Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour (or another all purpose gluten free flour), plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

5 1/2 tablespoons (77 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled

1/4 to 1/2 cup (2 to 4 fluid ounces) water, iced (ice cubes do not count in volume measurement)

2 cups (16 fluid ounces) milk

2/3 cup (133 g) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (54 g) basic xanthan gum-free gluten free flour blend (36 grams superfine white rice flour + 12 grams potato starch + 6 grams tapioca starch/flour)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 egg yolks (90 g), at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Coarse sugar (like Sugar in the Raw), for sprinkling

Freshly grated nutmeg, for sprinkling


  • Make the Pie Dough. First, make the pie crust. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add 1/4 cup of water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Add the remaining water by the teaspoon until no part of the dough is crumbly. Gather the dough together and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes, and up to a week.

  • Prepare the Crust. When you are ready to make the pie, preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease well a 9-inch pie plate and set it aside. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator, and place it on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper. Dust the dough lightly with flour, cover it with another piece of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. If the crust seems at all difficult to roll out, roll it out into a rough rectangle, then fold it over on itself like a business letter and roll it out again, dusting with flour as necessary. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and carefully lift the rolled-out pie crust into the greased pie plate (I like to roll the crust gently onto the rolling pin, and then unroll it onto the pie plate). Press the pie crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate and trim the excess that overhangs the edge of the pie plate by more than 1 inch all around. Tuck the overhung edges of the crust underneath, all around the pie plate, to create a thicker edge that is flush with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edge by pinching it with the thumb and forefinger of one hand from the inside of the crust, and poking the forefinger of your other hand into the crimp from the outside of the crust. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust randomly with the tines of a fork. This will prevent the crust from bubbling up during baking. Place the pie plate in the freezer until firm (about 5 minutes).

  • Blind bake the crust. Cover the bottom of the chilled crust with unbleached parchment paper, fill with pie weights (dried beans work well) and place in the center of the preheated oven to bake for 10 minutes. Take the pie out of the oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Allow the blind baked crust to cool briefly while you make the filling.

  • Make the custard filling. In a medium-size heavy-bottom saucepan, place the milk, sugar, flour blend and salt, and whisk to combine well. Have the egg yolks set beside the stove in a deep, medium-size bowl. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Slowly drip the hot milk mixture down the side of the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This tempers the eggs (brings them up to a higher temperature gradually) so they do not scramble. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens (about 2 minutes). Stir in the vanilla. If there are any lumps at all in the custard, smooth it out in a blender (I always have lumps – and I’ve tried it every which way – so I always blend the custard).

  • Assemble and bake the pie. Pour the smooth custard filling into the blind-baked pie crust. Tap the pie flat on the counter to burst any air bubbles in the custard. Sprinkle the top of the custard filling evenly with coarse sugar and freshly grated nutmeg. Place the pie on a baking sheet and in the center of the preheated oven. Lower the heat to 325°F, and bake, undisturbed, for about 45 minutes or until the pie jiggles slightly when shaken from side to side and/or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The jiggle should be a structured one (like Jello), not a loose one. The filling will bubble and puff as it bakes, but settle as it cools. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator to chill until firm (at least 2 hours and up to overnight). Slice and serve chilled.



P.S. Don’t forget to enter the BIG and BIGGER Bakes Bread Giveaway! Help me reach 500 new book orders and maybe we’ll get to bake together in YOUR kitchen!

Comments are closed.

  • […] Custard pie. […]

  • Katie Kaminski Sharon
    November 23, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Where can I buy unflavored whey protein isolate?

  • Candice
    November 23, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Perfect timing! I’m attempting my first GF pie crust for thanksgiving and I wanted a good recipe. I really appreciate you explaining the chemistry behind how it all works. I think it makes it easier to understand how to get a good result:)

    And I got a notice that my new cookbook would be arriving on November 30!! I better get my ingredients in order! Congrats on all the press for your new book!

  • LyttleO
    November 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Nicole, when you developed the bread recipes for the book did you use your Mock Better Batter that you include in the recipes as High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour or did you use the actual Better Batter flour?

  • karen
    November 23, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    That looks incredibly awesome Nicole! And I am over the moon this morning after receiving this email from Amazon, oh Yeah! : Hunn, Nicole “Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: (Biscuits, Bagels, Buns, and More)”
    Previous estimated arrival date: December 13, 2013 – December 17, 2013
    New estimated arrival date: December 03, 2013 – December 05, 2013

  • Need A Nap
    November 22, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Not a question, but congratulations on being featured on Yahoo Shine today!!


    • Jennifer Sasse
      November 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      Yahoo!!!! Congrats!

  • RW
    November 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    This looks great!! Can’t wait to try it. LOVE Most EVERthing you have recipes for:) Just and odd ? Do you know where xantham gum comes from? I had no idea it was bacterial fermentation of the same stuff that causes black spots on brocolli and other veggies in that family. Or it is made synthetically with chemicals. That doesn’t sound too healthy, I was disappointed to find that out. What alternatives are there for it?

  • John Lachett
    November 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    I love, love, love that this is so very close to my “old” pie crust recipe.
    I do have a chemistry question though. The addition of the baking soda is an ingrediant that I have seen in some wheat flour crusts and have never really understood why. My pie crust (which was my mother and grandmothers and so on and so forth) doesn’t call for it. Is it there for extra lift? Just curious.

    I’m headed to TX for Turkey day and we’re cooking so it’s gonna be a GF delicious day thanks to you!

    Gobble Gobble!
    Your GFF,
    John L

  • Nichole Boyd
    November 22, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Thank you for the pie recipe, just what I was trying to find for next week! I will need to make my pies the day before and they will have to survive a 4 hour car trip on Thanksgiving morning. Will this crust still be good the next day if kept refrigerated/ in a cooler? So many GF breads are best served fresh so I am a bit nervous about this. Thank you for all the time you put into these wonderful tips and recipes!

  • Jennifer Sasse
    November 22, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Thank you for the pie crust recipe. I will give it a whirl for all the pies I have to make next week. As for thanksgiving questions all I’m really concerned about is my stuffing and drying out the bread before hand and getting the spices right. I do not make a fancy stuffing and I used to just by the pre-packaged bread croutons that were already seasoned. I also need to make a lot and it has to travel 1.5 hours. I usually put it in the crock pot but I’m not sure how the GF bread will hold up – I guess we’ll see.
    As far as those bread sticks – OMG. LOVE THEM! I noticed on the parents recipe it mentioned something about “hoagies”. Do we split the dough into 8 pieces to make hoagies and 12 for breadsticks?? Also can I stuff these with cheese? My kids have been begging for cheese stuffed breadsticks – I’ve tried a couple of times with different recipes – epic fail every time.
    Thanks for all you do!!! Happy Friday!

  • Richard A Schmitt
    November 22, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    The single pie crust recipe is very helpful, and me personally always feel really grateful when you answer those burning questions we have
    Even more so when you reward us with more recipes! Thank you Nicole, I’m looking forward to your new Bakes Bread Book!

  • Donia Robinson
    November 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I’ve never been much of a pie person. In the great pie vs. cake debate, I’m on Team Cake (or just Team Frosting). However, those breadsticks you snuck in there a the end look AWESOME! What a happy Friday – 2 recipes from you! ;)

    • Jennifer Sasse
      November 22, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      I agree with you Donia – I’ve never been a pie person. I just don’t care for the crusts. Though I am in charge of making the pies this year – which is odd, I know. I’m making 1 crustless pumpkin (for me), 1 pumpkin with crust, 1 pecan with crust, and 1 chocolate chip cookie crusted ice cream pie (request from the kids). :)

      • Michelle
        November 22, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        I am always Team Cake, but I do love a good pumpkin-sweet potato pie with rum whipped cream. That ice cream pie sounds yummy!

        • Donia Robinson
          November 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

          Team Cake is very under-represented at holidays. Sure, we have it at birthdays, but why not at Thanksgiving at Christmas? Let’s start a movement, Michelle.

        • Jennifer
          November 22, 2013 at 6:47 PM

          I’m very much team cake too. I’m making an apple spice cake for Thanksgiving. I always make it for myself since I do all the work and think I should have a sweet I actually enjoy. But there’s never a piece left so even all my ‘team pie’ family members end up eating cake too. In addition to the pie…so I think it’s really just one of those ‘if you make it they will eat it’ things.

          Nicole, the bread sticks look great. :) I’m going to try them using the Ultratex again. Ever since I’ve had a little taste of dough I can actually touch again I’m like a crack addict now…needing another dough fix. ;)

        • Jennifer Sasse
          November 22, 2013 at 10:24 PM

          Is ultratex the same as expandex?

        • Jennifer
          November 23, 2013 at 4:23 AM

          It’s a different brand of Modified Tapioca. I’ve seen them use it on the Food Network challenge type shows. It’s supposed to be a lot stronger so I used half the amount. In another post, Nicole said she contacted both companies trying to get info about the make-up of each for comparison but they didn’t share the info since it’s proprietary.

          I don’t mind experimenting so I went ahead and got the Ultratex to try.

          Tonight I used it again in the bread stick dough mentioned above. I don’t know if it’s OK to post a picture or not but this is what it looked like. It smells like yeast dough. Looks like it. Feels very close to it. I’m not going to do the actual bread sticks until tomorrow for supper though.

          ( Nicole, I know you worked very hard on your formula using specific ingredients. I don’t want to cause you any headaches by talking about a different product. It’s cool if you need to delete it.)

        • Michelle
          November 22, 2013 at 7:06 PM

          Great plan, Donia! Maybe I’ll make a really decadent cake at Christmas. Or maybe a chocolate trifle. Mmmmmm…. chocolate….

        • Jennifer Sasse
          November 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM

          Um, we do have cake at christmas- baby Jesus bday cake!

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