I'm sharing my story that, maybe if you, too, live in fear of producing a flaky, buttery crust and end up covertly grabbing a store-bought one instead, that you know there is hope.
In my search for the best pie crust recipe and tricks to make it turn out flawlessly, I ran across this vid. I learned a lot from Chef Cristina and have made several pies since getting this recipe. I'm not kidding... several pies. Each have turned out so well that I am convinced that it is good enough to share with you, my friend!
You see, it isn't just the recipe that makes a great crust. It's technique, technique, technique! Yes, it may require just a little extra time, but it does make all the difference in the world.
Now something of note is that a pie crust and a pâte brisée are not the same thing. A pie crust is to be light and flaky; merely a way to present the glorious filling in a somewhat orderly fashion. A pâte brisée, on the other hand, is truly a member of the party. It is more substantial with a sugar cookie-like texture and is better suited for tarts.
So... today, my young padawan, I will share with you the skill to make your own flaky pie crust so you do not have to turn to the Dark Side in the grocery store.
Below, I have adapted Chef Cristina's recipe a little to suit our real-food journey:
3-2-1 Pie Crust
Makes 2 crusts
- 3 C sprouted soft whole wheat (pastry) flour
- 2 sticks butter (or ½ C butter / ½ C palm shortening)
- 1 C ice water (or less)
- 1 T turbinado or sucanat
- 1 t salt
- Freeze butter. If using palm shortening, measure and freeze that, too, for about an hour or until hard.
- Cut frozen butter (and palm shortening) into small cubes/shards. Do this quickly as you don't want the fats to become soft.
- Add all ingredients EXCEPT WATER into mixer bowl. Using paddle attachment of your stand mixer, mix on lowest speed until crumbly. This will take about 2 minutes. You will still see pieces of butter and shortening in the flour. Check dough to see if when pressed together in the hands it holds together. Dough should be somewhat loose with bits of butter still visible. This is good! (See video)
- Add about ¾ C of the water. Mix on low just until dough starts to come together. You may need to add more water if all the flour is not incorporated in the dough. Be careful not to mix too long as this will produce a tough crust. This whole process takes maybe 1 minute.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface. Pat out slightly. Fold dough over on itself 3-4 times. This will help create the flaky layers we covet so!
- Mound dough and cut in half, making each into a disk.
- Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 60 minutes or up to 2 days. (Don't be tempted to rush here... This step will allow the gluten in the flour to relax and be much easier to work with.)
- When ready to bake pie, make filling first.
- Take pie crust out of refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before rolling out. This will allow it to soften slightly, make rolling easier and prevent cracking.
- Unwrap dough and place on a floured surface. Roll out, turning dough a quarter turn after each pass. Add a small amount of flour under dough if it begins to stick. If crust cracks around the edges while rolling out, lay a tea towel or plastic wrap over the top for just a minute or two, allowing it to soften a little bit more. Continue rolling until dough is about 1" larger than pie plate.
- Gently press crust into bottom, corners, and sides of pan. Do not stretch dough.
- Prior to filling, brush beaten egg on bottom and sides of crust to prevent sogginess. Brushing top crust with beaten egg gives the crust a beautiful golden, glossy finish.
- Freeze completed pie for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.