It's time to review another gluten-free pie crust option. Today we're looking at Pamela's Products Artisan Flour Blend.
Unlike yesterday's review of Pillsbury's Pie and Pastry Dough, this pie crust required some work. How much work? Well, you basically make an entire pie crust from scratch. The only step you skip is measuring out the flour. So, not backbreaking labor but more working than opening a tub of dough.
It surprised me to see that I needed to add salt and sugar to the mix. However, flour blend is touted to make especially good pie crust. But it isn't a pie crust mix; no it's an all-purpose blend. So I guess it makes sense that the salt and sugar aren't included. If you were making bread or something, you'd want a different amount of salt and sugar.
I pulled out my mixing bowl, added the salt and sugar, and then set to work cutting the butter and shortening into the flour. This step took a little while, like it would with any pie crust recipe. To pass the time, I stared into space and pondered life's big questions. You know, like whether it was wise to run to the grocery store later in the day wearing my flour-dusted yoga pants or whether I should change. I don't know about you but for me messy hair and floury yoga pants act as a siren song to people I haven't seen in years. Of course, the long lost friend I run into looks totally put together and I look….like a hot mess. However, it's always nice to see people. So there's that.
The flour and shortening cut easily into the dough. I noticed that the dough seemed really fatty. (<---that's the only time you'll see me use the word “fatty.”) If I squeezed the dough together, it held totally together. And this was before I added the water!
When I added the water, the dough looked great! At this point, it seemed less fatty and more like a regular pie crust.
Time to roll!
The folks at Pamela's tell you to roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. I used parchment paper because I didn't want to start swearing by the end of rolling. What? That doesn't happen to you? (clears throat) Often when I try to use plastic wrap, it bunches up and sticks to itself. This is THE WORST.
The dough rolled out easily but the top started sticking to my pin. As with the folks at Pillsbury, Pamela's doesn't mention dusting your work surface and rolling pin with flour. (shakes fist at sky.) Confidential to the folks at Pamela's: 1. You are trying to sell this blend, right? And you sell more when people use more, right? 2. You want your customers to have an easy time rolling out the dough, right? Here's how to solve both of those issues: Tell your customers to dust the parchment and rolling pin with a little of the Artisan Flour Blend that they have sitting in a bag open on their counter. It would help them *and* you'd sell more flour. Win-win!
I grabbed some of the flour mix, rubbed it onto my rolling pin and, get this, the dough was easier to work with. WOOT! Magic.
The dough transferred easily to the pan. (I inverted the pie plate and flipped the pie crust into the pan.) As I pulled off the top piece of parchment, the dough tore a little. I pinched it back together with no trouble.
I filled it with pumpkin pie filling and popped the pie into the oven.
After an hour or so, the crust looked good. Remember how the Pillsbury crust almost burnt on me? This crust was the opposite. It remained kind of pale.
As I pulled the pie out of the oven, tragedy struck.
I nudged the edge of the crust with my pot holder and THE CRUST BROKE. Oh no! And it didn't just break a little, it really broke. If this were a well-written novel (or a well-written review but, let's be honest, that ship has sailed) that little piece of information about the crust breaking would be called foreshadowing.
The pie cooled and I cut into it. And….the back crust fell off. Like dramatically. Like, the way a teenager drops his or her bookbag two feet from the door at the end of a school day.
I cut another piece. Again, the crust fell off onto the plate. Bummer!
We ate the pie (my mother and Greg were part of this taste test, lucky them, right?).
My reaction: Good crust. A little gritty. Way too delicate.
Greg's reaction: Excellent pie, honey! I'm so lucky that I married someone who bakes four pumpkin pies in one day! (Wait. Wait. I'm checking my notes and those don't seem to be Greg's exact words. It looks like he said something like, “Not bad but kind of bland.” Hmm, I don't know where I got the other quote! Oh, well. Let's leave it.)
My mother's reaction: Terrible! It's too gritty. God, this is bad. Did you make this? Don't share this recipe with people! You can do better than this.
Ah, mothers. Gotta love their brutal, brutal honesty.
Seriously, Greg and I liked the pie. I found it gritty, he found it a little bland. But overall we said we'd happily eat another slice. My mother, as you can see, really disliked the crust and said she'd rather eat a crustless pie than one made with this “recipe.” (I hadn't shared the brand yet. She thought the crust was a from-scratch recipe.)
Nothing exciting here. A blend of flours and starches. As you can see, the mix does not include salt or sugar.
Ingredients often change. This photo was taken November 2013. Always check your package for the current ingredient list.
I always love how flour packages list the serving size as “4 Tablespoons.” Mmmm….raw flour! SUCH A TREAT! ;-)
Nutrition Facts often change along with ingredients. This photo was taken November 2013. Always check your package for the current ingredient list.
$6.89 for a 24 ounce bag. I actually cringed as I typed that price.
Not bad. Not great. We need to start a “meh” rating. Sort of a “this product didn't offend me”-thing. Would I buy this again and use it for pie crust? I don't think so. You get very little reward for your money and work. Sure, it saves you the step of mixing together a few flours. But, for me, that's not enough. And I couldn't help think that if you've never made a pie crust before that this mix doesn't make it any easier.
Now, this mix can be used for other recipes. When I have the time to try them out, I'll report back!