Classic Pie Crust Recipe – No Shortening Allowed
I've regularly heard people express fear about making pie crust, which is 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 sugars and yucky preservatives.
Let's look at some pie crust basics before you dive into the recipe.
Pie crust is essentially a team of rivals that come together to do good in your kitchen. It is the result of a delicate dance between gluten, shortening fats, and water.
- Flour forms the glutens that hold the dough together; glutens create "chewiness"
- Fats shorten the glutens and increase tenderness/flakiness
- Water binds the two opposing forces together like the force.
Mealy vs. Flaky
Before you make a pie crust, you need to decide if you need it be mealy and flaky, which describe the crust's texture before you mix water into it. The difference is how far you "cut" the fat into the flour. You use the same ingredients and process for each version — ultimately, you decide at stage 1.
- Flaky = Lots of pea and marble-sized chunks.
- Flakier and less resistant to moisture, so it looses texture faster but has a more delicate texture.
- Use for a top crust, cookies, tartletts, or hand pies.
- Not ideal for a bottom crust when you expect to have leftovers. But it can be done.
- Mealy = No chunks. It looks like course sand.
- Not flaky and more resistant to moisture, so it keeps its texture longer but is less tender.
- Use for bottom crusts. You can use it for top crust but it's not as yummy as flaky.
- More user-friendly — it's easier to handle because it's less delicate.
Pie Crust Recipe Ingredients
- 3 cups Flour, sifted before measuring
- 3 ounces Butter, slightly firm
- 3 ounces Refined Coconut Oil
- Pinch of Salt
- Pinch of Sugar
- ¼ to ½ cup Ice Water
- Bench Flour
Mise en Plas
- Small Pan
- Mixing Bowl (2 if you are making both mealy and flaky crust)
- Soft Spatula
- Plastic Wrap
- Rolling Pin
- Thin Metal Spatula
Stage 1: Cut in the fat
- 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 until you've stirred in all the oil.
Stage 1 in pictures
Stage 2: Bring it together and rest it
- 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 add less and if dry then more.
- Gather the dough into a ball and press together. It should be pliable and moldable, soft but not sticky, smooth but not rubbery.
- Add a little flour if it is still sticky, and cut it in with the least amount of handling possible.
Note: handle the dough as little as possible at this stage. More handling and kneading = tougher crusts.
Rest the 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.
Note: You can freeze the dough for up to 6 months at this stage.
Stage 2 in pictures
Stage 3: Roll it out
- If you have chilled the dough, allow it to come back to room temperature first.
- 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 to help it "heal" 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 needs just enough flour to keep it from sticking, but not so much that it slides around as you roll it.
- This is a point of finesse that will take some practice to get right.
Stage 3 in pictures
Stage 4: Transfer to the pan
This is the big moment!
- After the dough is rolled out to be a bit thicker than a nickel, run a metal spatula underneath again to loosen it.
- Position your rolling pin about a quarter of the way into the circle.
- Use the flat metal spatula to lift the dough from the counter and flop it over the rolling pin in one motion.
- In one smooth motion, lift and pull the dough over your pie pan.
- Ease it into the pie pan, which means gently stretch and push it to make it sit right.
- 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.
- Trim off the excess crust, leaving about 1-2 inches of overhang.
- Congrats! Now make your pie.
Stage 4 in pictures
Stage 5: Shape the crust and bake it into a pie shell
For the best results, the top of your finished crust should be less than a half above the top of the pan.
- Form the edges according to your whims.
- Dampen the undersides of the overhang and squeezing it together.
- Then crimp it together and shape the crust per your liking.
- "Dock" the crust by poking small holes in it with the tines of a fork. This helps it bake evenly
- Line the crust with parchment and fill with dry beans for weight or use a specially made chain for weighting down the pie.
- Bake at 375 degrees F 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.
Note: Total baking time will be between 20-35 minutes, depending on your pan, oven, and how damp your pie dough is.
Stage 5 in pictures
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