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Homemade Pie Crusts - tricks and tips

 
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I am guessing I will get an apple for this pie crust recipe once Paul and Jocelyn try it. This is Sara Jo's pie crust, which I've used since I first tried it when Sara Jo was making pies for a nice restaurant on Mackinaw Island in northern Michigan. It may have helped that we went to senior prom together... in 1973.

Remarkably, this includes a few of the tips already posted: vinegar, an egg, and lots of butter. The nice thing is that it mixes together and rolls out easily, and holds together well. That and it is tender and flaky!

This recipe makes two double crusts, or four single crusts, because one pie is never enough.

Stir together:
4 cups flour, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt (less sugar if it's a savory pie)

Cut in 2 cups butter (four sticks, a whole pound) quickly, keep everything cool.

Beat together one large egg and 1 Tablespoon vinegar (cold)

Stir the egg and vinegar into the flour mixture, just enough to form a ball, then divide and roll out.

That's it, no water apart from the liquid in the egg and vinegar. Enjoy!!
 
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Emilie McVey wrote:Ok, a couple of questions I have that weren't address in the previous posts..
One, I rendered beef tallow and have used that with success, as far as the flakiness. However, I think  the crust would have been much better with a savory pie than it was with the sweet pie that I made. I cannot use butter, I cannot use soy, I cannot use coconut, and my experience with pork lard was about the same as with tallow: tasty but not for a sweet pie. Does anyone have any more suggestions as for the fat?

Another thing is, I have to use gluten free flour. Which of course involves adding xanthan gum and guar gum, but has anybody used gluten free flour and a fat that would be safe for me and had a tasty crust for a sweet pie result that's not like cardboard? Because I admit, generally my crusts are like cardboard. No flavor and it rips and is just a total disappointment. Again with the lard or tallow, it was a much better crust, but it did not taste good with a sweet pie.



I think the beef tallow/suet taste must be personal preference, because I now make all my pie crusts with it and I just love it.  It does have a little beefy flavor, but I think that's so tasty!  Apple pie with a hint of beef:  yum.  I don't buy commercially made suet any more because they bleach out all that lovely beefy flavor
 
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I never bothered to chill my butter--but maybe it doesn't matter so much because I always use 50/50 whole wheat/white flour. I think it looks and tastes better as well as being more wholesome. But I might try that trick of cutting the butter into smallish pieces, chilling, then grating them; I break it up with a fork which is tedious. The one trick I haven't seen mentioned here is that I use whole wheat PASTRY flour when I remember--that works better for pastry than bread flour.
 
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I've always liked a 50/50 butter & lard blend. Ice cold vinegar or vodka. When I was able to eat wheat, I'd have never dreamed of using an egg (nor would the pastry chefs I baked for), but, now that wheat isn't an option for me, I can't help wondering if that would help with the alternative flours... hmmm...
 
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I use a grater for my butter which is frozen.  Flour and water is ice cold.  Shells are cold before being put into the oven.  Makes for a fine flaky crust.
shells
 
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Here's a prize winning crust recipe that you make RIGHT IN THE PIE PAN.   Seriously, try this.  Also there is no mess!  You don't get a top crust, but instead you get to see and smell the wonderful fruit.
   
For a large pie pan crust, put 1 1/2 C plus 3 Tablespoons of regular white flour and 3/4 tsp salt in the pie pan.  Mix well with a fork.     In a separate measuring cup, emulsify (mix well) exactly 1/2 C Safflower Oil and 3 Tablespoons of water.    Here's the tricky part.  The secret of this crust is to barely moisten the flour and to work it as little as possible for maximum flakiness.    In the center of the pie pan, make a dip and dribble a small bit of oil/water mixture in - while at the same time, stirring with the fork.  Working outward in a spiral, continue dribbling and stirring, always on the dry flour.   Move the barely moistened flour to the center.   When the dough is all moistened, form the crust.  With clean fingers, starting in the middle, push the dough down and towards the edges, leaving the crust about 1/8 inch thick on the bottom of the pan.  Make it slightly thicker at the bend for strength.  Form the sides with your thumbs and flute the top edge.  Voila!     Remember, touch the dough as little as possible because warming and kneading releases gluten which is the opposite of flaky.     Enjoy your pie and compliments.    
   
 
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I'm with Jay Angler on this one. I like the insides of a pie; the crust, well, not so much. My favorite pumpkin 'pie' has no crust at all. It's the pumpkin pie filling baked in a casserole dish - we call it pumpkin custard.

My husband does like pie crust, however.

Try replacing the water with something that has flavor (apple cider, lemon juice, broth (reduce salt), dark beer, white wine).
 
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Merry, I like your recipe so I just might make a pie today to try it out!
 
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Somebody asked about whole wheat flour pie dough. I use "white" whole wheat (such as Wheat Montana Prairie Gold). It holds together well for me - though my wife has had issues and prefers unbleached white when she makes pie.
 
pollinator
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Gail Vance, I heard the vodka trick as well. I haven't tried it but the reasoning is that less water means more flaky, but makes it harder to bring the dough together. The vodka allows easier mixing but then evaporates leaving only half as much liquid in the crust.
I wondered how it would work to roll out the dough on a refrigerated stone like a large ceramic or marble tile or a flagstone covered in parchment? Anybody?
 
Carla Burke
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M Wilcox wrote:Gail Vance, I heard the vodka trick as well. I haven't tried it but the reasoning is that less water means more flaky, but makes it harder to bring the dough together. The vodka allows easier mixing but then evaporates leaving only half as much liquid in the crust.
I wondered how it would work to roll out the dough on a refrigerated stone like a large ceramic or marble tile or a flagstone covered in parchment? Anybody?



Yup! Keeping the fat as cold as possible is one of the keys. Maybe the biggest one - and that stone, Expedia if you've chilled it ahead of time, will go a long way toward that gorgeous, flaky crust!
 
pollinator
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If anyone has a recipe / tried-and-true method for making gluten free pie crust, I would be all ears!
 
Carla Burke
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Heidi Schmidt wrote:If anyone has a recipe / tried-and-true method for making gluten free pie crust, I would be all ears!


Me, too!
 
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K Putnam wrote:@Gail, a tablespoon of vodka is great, if you have it on hand. I'm more of a bourbon drink so....hahahahahaha...

But yes, just a bit of vodka can really help, especially if you're not 100% confident with your crust-making skills.



Does that go in the water or in the tummy?    
 
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Carla Burke wrote:

Heidi Schmidt wrote:If anyone has a recipe / tried-and-true method for making gluten free pie crust, I would be all ears!


Me, too!

I have a friend who's made an almond flour crust and used it for pumpkin pie. With stuff I've recently read about the almond industry, I'm not sure I'd want to go there, but I can try to get the recipe from her if you've got a source of safe almonds. I do recall you 'press it in place' rather than rolling it.
 
Heidi Schmidt
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Jay Angler wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:

Heidi Schmidt wrote:If anyone has a recipe / tried-and-true method for making gluten free pie crust, I would be all ears!


Me, too!

I have a friend who's made an almond flour crust and used it for pumpkin pie. With stuff I've recently read about the almond industry, I'm not sure I'd want to go there, but I can try to get the recipe from her if you've got a source of safe almonds. I do recall you 'press it in place' rather than rolling it.



Ok, I'm interested to at least hear about it. Can you also tell more about the almond industry? I'm aware of the huge monocultures and horrors of all the pollinator bee importing... anything else?
 
Carla Burke
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I'm actually thinking of trying one with oat bran & pecan &/or hazelnut flour.
 
Jay Angler
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This gluten-free recipe sounds like what my friend described: https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/almond-flour-pie-crust-gluten-free/
I will contact her and see for her exact recipe.

ETA: my contact info is defunct and my back-up contact funnel says that her tunnels are dead also. I suspect the recipe I've linked to is more or less what she did from my memory.
 
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Here's my best friend's gf/plant-based/oil free pie crust.  I wanted to bake a cherry pie for a friend's birthday so even though I hadn't made pie in several years, I was stubborn with it.  It wasn't super pretty because this crust IS more difficult to handle but it tasted great.  And I have made this a handful of times now and every time I get better with how it looks.  One trick that I've used is that this recipe is enough for a couple smaller pies so when I bake, I roll out mine first as warm up and then do the gift pie second.  (You can see my other notes below that I added when sharing with another friend.)

Pie Crust (makes 2)
1 c. Bob’s 1:1 flour (plus extra for rolling the crusts)
2 c. almond flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
1 c. soy milk
Mix all ingredients together.
Roll out like regular pie crust except this stuff is a pain comparatively speaking so it takes more flour than you might normally use plus patience and practice.  The top crust is easier to form with pieces than one sheet if you’re a newbie. So you can just tear pieces or use a small cookie cutter and layer pieces on.

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake in lower 1/3 of oven for 25-35 minutes, depending on type of pie.  

Note: Cherry pie bake for 15 minutes (cover edges of crust with aluminum foil) and then bake for 12 more.
 
Jay Angler
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Sonja Draven wrote:

Preheat oven to 375.

I see a similarity between the recipe I found and Sonja's in that the temperature for these GF recipes is lower than for traditional wheat flour/lard recipes which normally start in a 425 F oven for at least a short period. I'm not sure what the difference is and whether it's the gluten that is behind that difference.

Anyone have any ideas?
 
Sonja Draven
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Jay Angler wrote:Sonja Draven wrote:

Preheat oven to 375.

I see a similarity between the recipe I found and Sonja's in that the temperature for these GF recipes is lower than for traditional wheat flour/lard recipes which normally start in a 425 F oven for at least a short period. I'm not sure what the difference is and whether it's the gluten that is behind that difference.

Anyone have any ideas?


I think it's the nuts and thin exposed crust. Because when we bake rolls and pizza crust, they bake at 400. But gf does often need to be baked at a lower temp for longer, especially when oil free/plant based. I had to completely relearn how to bake when I went gf, and then again with the other changes.
 
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I make pie crust with poppy seeds or sometimes sesame in the dough. I also enjoy, for savoury pies, things like chopped thyme leaves running through the pastry, or roughly cracked black pepper, mustard powder or paprika mixed into the flour first.
I make a sort of scone dough pastry.
300g ish plain flour (plus seasonings)
100g ish butter
1 egg or sometimes just an egg yolk
A splash of cold whole milk

Rub the butter Into the flour to a fine breadcrumb.
(with your hands lifted above the bowl make rubbing motions with your fingertips and work handfuls of flour butter mix rubbing and flattening little pieces of butter through the flour and letting them fall into the bowl)
This keeps the mix aerated and cool
(does everyone know how to rub in okay I'll continue *haha*
Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the egg and milk. Mix by grabbing and squishing the mix making sure to "wet" any pockets of flour first before moving onto mixing the whole bowl lightly.
When it's nearly a dough pour the mix onto a countertop and just bring it together with a knead or two.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill

When rolling for use, pack the dough together first but don't reknead, then roll thinly.
Blind bake your crust before filling by pricking all over with a knife, (and I mean lots and lots of small holes) and cooking for 5-10minutes or so on a moderate heat until the dough has dried and just started to cook.

This is a easy versatile and very tasty, slightly crumbly and crunchy pie crust which works as well with venison pie as it does with chicken and mushroom, or apple & peach

For sweet pastry add 35g sugar after breadcrumb stage and before liquid stage.

But then if you're doing sweet pastry there's always Pate a sucree personally I like the michel roux recipe for that one

Peace and pie from a hippie chef

 
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Hope this hasn't already been posted, but this is Stella's (from Serious Eats) recipe slightly modified.  Lots of butter (the healthy fat!!), flour, salt sugar & water.  It's like a 'rough puff pastry".

YIELD: 2 9-INCH PIE CRUSTS OR 1 DOUBLE CRUST
Easy Flaky Pie Crust

The crust has a higher ratio of butter to flour than many pie crusts, which makes it extra flaky (like a 'rough puff pastry).  This recipe works best with American butter and not higher fat European butters.  It's a simple and forgiving dough to work with. The sugar in the dough helps with browning, but doesn't make the crust itself sweet, which makes the dough flexible enough to work with sweet or savory. This crust works well for rustic free-form galettes or intricate lattice crusts.

Ingredients
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 226 grams) butter, cold from the fridge
1/2 cup water

Instructions
Add the flour, sugar, and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk together.
Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, add to the mixing bowl, and toss with the flour mixture to coat.
With your fingers, smash each butter cube flat.
Add all the water and stir with a spoon or silicone spatula to mix. Continue kneading the mixture with your hands, folding it over itself a few times to work in the rest of the flour until the dough forms a ball.  Divide the dough in half
Generously flour a clean flat surface (like a counter or marble slab) and coat your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out into a circle about 14-inches in diameter. Etc per usual directions.  Freezes well.

Here's the pictures
https://www.blossomtostem.net/pie-crust/
 
nancy sutton
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Oh, and re: easy, here's a 'press in' tart dough -- boil butter and water, etc.... !  See the comments - and more versions on line.
https://www.davidlebovitz.com/french-tart-dough-a-la-francaise/
 
nancy sutton
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One more - I hate the bottom pie crust... what a waste of energy and resources!  BUT it's possible to avoid the 'soggy bottom'.  Turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down, put in the preheating oven, and bake pie on that *.   So the dribbles don't escape, put parchment paper between pie pan and the overturned baking sheet (that extends beyond edges of pie tin).  (Think I'll try a piece of aluminum foil with turned up edge, placed between pie and overturned baking sheet... hmmm... )  Did I say I have truly hated the soggy bottom pie crust? ... for many years?  : )  (I actually made an apple tarte tatin just to avoid it!)

*(or use a heated pizza stone, maybe large cast iron skillet?, or baking steel... or?)
 
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Heidi Schmidt wrote:If anyone has a recipe / tried-and-true method for making gluten free pie crust, I would be all ears!



Well, not really answering your question, but may be good for some humor!

Since I was already in the process of making a vegan pecan pie filling, I thought I'd go the extra nine yards and try a gluten-free crust with tapioca flour.  Please note that I grabbed what was in the cupboard before reading all of the ins and outs regarding cassava flour, tapioca flour, and tapioca starch.  At any rate, I used my usual recipe for wheat flour crust:

1 stick of margarine
1.5 c. all purpose flour
bit of salt

cut margarine in until crumbles form.

mix 1/4 c. milk (used oatmilk)
with 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar.
pour into flour/margarine mix.

mix well, knead into ball.  For one Pyrex glass pie dish, use 1/2 the ball for a bottom-only crust.

Attempt #1 with straight recipe and tapioca flour gave good enough texture to press into pie plate by hand.  But when I tried pre-baking the crust, it all slid down the sides of the dish onto the bottom.  Figuring the fat-to-water was too high, I add a bit more flour and water to the remaining half of the dough for attempt #2.  Pressed into the pie plate fine, pre-baked fine as well.  

So I put the filling into it (see below) and it baked up really nicely!....

As you can SEE......

Cuz of course, you can't TASTE from where you are sitting in front of your screen. :-/

In truth, for a non-egg filling, it was one of the best pecan pies I've made.

But the crust was like a cross between cement mortar and rawhide! :-(    If there is a 1-10 scale for crust flakiness with 0 being ultimate flake and 10 being too hard, mine was an 11.

Sorry I could not provide what you were seeking, but maybe a few more pies from now I'll have the secret!....
CassavaCrust.jpg
[Thumbnail for CassavaCrust.jpg]
WithFilling.jpg
[Thumbnail for WithFilling.jpg]
AndBaked.jpg
[Thumbnail for AndBaked.jpg]
 
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