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This past Saturday was KCRW’s 5th Annual Pie Contest, presented by Evan Kleiman, the host of their radio show, “Good Food.” This is the story of my experience as a contestant!

Two years ago I went with a couple of my friends to their 3rd annual pie contest just as a guest. It was a relaxed atmosphere of great tunes (KCRW DJs), great art (it’s held at LACMA), and fantastic pie smells wafting throughout the courtyard. (Unfortunately it was also hot as hell.)

As guests to this FREE event, we got to wander around LACMA’s courtyard where all the contestants’ pies were on tables waiting for us to stand in a long long line, fill our plates to the brim with as much pie as we could get, and then dig in, savoring the multitude of flavors crashing together and blending on our fork. There were fruit pies, nut pies, cream pies, even savory meat pies! But alas, no gluten-free, vegan pies.


That’s right. I am allergic to gluten, eggs, and dairy (and a host of other things we’ll not mention just now). So, what did I eat, you ask? I nibbled on the fillings of some fruit pies, tasted some irresistible nut pies, devoured some delicious cream pies. Dammit. I succumbed. And then I got sick.

So, when I heard about this year’s contest, I decided I would enter. Not only so I could participate in this fun outdoor foodventure, but so others like me could enjoy themselves too (without the side effects)!

There was already a category for vegan pies, but no gluten-free one. I wasn’t sure if others would try to make a GF crust or not. I don’t blame them for not wanting to because it’s damn hard. Lemme break it down for ya:

Typical, Glutenous, Non-Vegan Crust Ingredients:

Flour, Butter, salt, sugar, water. BAM. Done.

Typical VEGAN Crust Ingredients:

Flour, Vegetable shortening (Or Oil), salt, sugar, water. BAM. Done.

Typical GF VEGAN Crust Ingredients:

Error 404. I’m sorry, the consensus on a good, usable crust cannot be found. There are so many different ones with at least 10 ingredients. Refine your search or MAKE YOUR OWN. (Here is an example of a terrible GF, V recipe. My favorite is the one comment, which I did not write, but expresses my thoughts exactly.)

Yes, I have searched online. I have used posted recipes and the crust either fell apart or tasted nasty. Yes, I have used the recipes on the gluten-free flour bags form the store. Those crusts either fell apart or were nasty. I had made some bad examples in the past and the main problem was always that the baked dough would crumble at first touch, and taste grainy, dry, or flavorless. The flavor and texture aspects were diminished by using the wrong type of GF flours (chickpea flour or something unsuited for pie), while the crumbly aspect came from a lack of gluten or starch. The problem was finding suitable replacements that weren’t grainy or overpowering with the wrong type of flavor.

The solution was clear, but not easy: I needed to find something that held the dough together post-bake, and something that retained enough moisture and flavor, plus vegan and gluten-free (so no eggs. Sorry, kids). No biggie. I can do this. I think.

And so, the search began…

To be continued in Pie Contest Part 2.

Did you enter this year’s contest?
Are you also Gluten-free/allergy-ridden?
Have a good Gluten-free Vegan Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments!


(Check out this week’s writing challenge)