Coconut oil in a pie crust recipe? Yes!
I've regularly heard people express fear about making pie crust. Understandable since the stuff is persnickety as hell. But the feeling you get when you take a bit of your own crust and it flakes apart in your mouth is pure joy. And, by following my pie crust recipe, you avoid nasty things like GMO-laced hydrogenated oils, unnecessary sugar and yucky preservatives.
Let's look at some pie crust basics before you dive into the recipe.
Piecrust is essentially a team of rivals that come together to do good in your kitchen! It is a delicate dance between gluten, shortening fats, and water.
- Flour forms the glutens that hold the dough together and they increase chewiness
- Fats shorten the glutens and increase tenderness/flakiness
- Water binds the two opposing forces together like the force.
Mealy pie crust vs. Flaky pie crust.
These words describe texture. The difference is how much you "cut" the fat into the flour.
- Lots of pea and marble-sized chunks=flaky. Use for top crusts, cookies and hand pies. Okay as a bottom crust for starch-thickened fruit pies, like apple pie.
- No chunks = mealy. Use for bottom crusts and creamy pies, and non-thickened fruit pies.
Pie Crust Recipe
Yield: 2 9-inch crusts + Ample Scraps
Mise en Place:
- Put the coconut oil in a pan and melt over very low heat. Remove from the heat when it is about 95% melted and stir until it is completely liquid. Set aside in warm area of the kitchen.
- Cut the butter into very small pieces.
- Sift the flour (yes, one more time), sugar, and salt into the mixing bowl. Drop in the butter and toss it to coat each little bit in flour.
- Mill the butter into the flour, first working with your fingertips, then progressing to rubbing the mixture between your palms. Continue switching between both actions until the butter is mostly combined, but there are still a few bits of distinguishable butter that you can see and feel.
- Stop mixing at this point if you want "flaky" pie crust. Or, divide the mix in two and continue milling one half until there is no distinguishable butter if you've a "mealy" crust on your mind.
- Drizzle about a third of the coconut oil across the top then stir a few times. Repeat thrice until there is no dry looking bits of flour in sight.
Bring it together:
- Drizzle ice water (but no ice) into the flour-butter mix, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Fold together. Repeat until the dough clings together, but stop adding water before it becomes sticky. You'll probably add between 4-6 tablespoons. If it's humid, you'll less and if dry then more.
- Gather the dough into a ball and press together. It should be pliable and moldable, soft and have no stickiness. Add a little flour if you overdo the water, and cut it in with the least amount of handling possible.
Rest the tired dough:
- Separate into two even halves and roll into smooth balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and then flatten into discs about an inch thick. Rest for about half an hour, or up to 72 hours in the fridge. If your kitchen is warm, place in the fridge.
Roll it out:
- If you have chilled the dough, allow it to come back up to almost room temperature before rolling.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter and place the unwrapped disc of dough in the center. Flip once to get flour on both sides.
- Roll from the center out, rotating the direction of the roll each time to achieve a nice round shape. When the edges break apart, dampen them slighty and push them back together. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the damp area.
- As you roll, regularly run the metal spatula underneath to keep the bottom of the dough somewhat floured. The more damp your dough is, the more flour you will need. The dough need just enough flour to keep it from sticking, but not so much that it slides should just barely grip the counter so that it stays in place as you roll it out. This is a point of finesse that will take some practice to get right.
Put it in the pan:
- Once you have the dough rolled out to be a bit thicker than a nickel, run the metal spatula underneath one more time to loosen it.
- Position your rolling pin about a quarter of the way into the circle.
- Use your flat metal spatula to lift the dough from the counter and flop it over the rolling pin in one motion.
- In another smooth motion, lift and pull the dough over your pie pan. Ease it into the pie pan. If the dough breaks, simply reseal it by dampening the edges of the break and pressing them together, once the crust is in the pan. Continue easing the dough into the pan and trim off the excess, leaving about 1-2 inches of overhang.
- Congrats! Now make your pie.
Bake it into a pie shell:
For the best results, the top of your crust should be less than a half inch taller than the top of the pan, so play with the overhang a bit before you commit to it, because you might need to trim it down. Your pie pan plays a significant role in what works and what doesn't with this step.
- Form the edges according to your whims. Generally, you should start by dampening the undersides of the overhang and squeezing it together. You can then crimp it together and create various patterns to adorn your pie.
- Dock the crust by poking small holes in it with the tines of a fork.
- Line with parchment and fill with dry beans for weight or use a specially made chain for weighting down the pie. Bake at 375° until it is baked through.
- Lay a piece of foil over the top about part way through baking to help prevent the edge from browning too much. Total baking time will be between 20-35 minutes, depending on your pan, oven, and how damp your pie dough is.