Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oil Pie Crust

Pie Crust
Alright, pie crust is a loaded topic. Many people would prefer to only use things like shortening and lard to make it, but I say nay. I have always preferred using natural oils to make my pie crusts. Sometimes I will go overboard and use some butter. However, butter must be kept cold or the crust will be too sticky to handle. This is my standard oil-based pie crust mix. If you prefer to have a crust that is more like a commercial one that incorporates solid fats like lard and shortening, try using either palm or coconut butter.
Oil-based Pie Crust

2 cups flour (I use unbleached all purpose flour, but whole wheat pastry flour works good too.)
1 teaspoon salt(even if the crust is for a dessert)
1/2 cup oil (Soybean or other type, depending on the use of the crust and your personal tastes)
1/4 cup very cold water(yes, COLD is important in this)

Blend flour and salt. Add oil and cut it into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and resembles something like Bisquik mix. Bisquik has fat in the mix and this is what make is have a different texture than self rising flour.
Now, add your COLD water carefully to the oil/flour mix. Gradually stir it together until you can make a ball of the dough and have it hold together. If your pie has two crusts, you will need two balls, so divide it in half. Now, prepare a surface to roll the crust out. Make sure it is clean so nothing funky gets into your crust. Then apply a small amount of flour over the surface and over your rolling pin. This will prevent the crust from sticking as you roll it. Alternatively, if you have a wonderful invention like a Silpat or even just parchment paper(the baking kind that is pretty sturdy), using these can help as well. I do not recommend using wax paper, but some people do. Flatten your ball of dough as much as possible with your hands before using your rolling pin. Then roll it to be as thin as you need, or think your crust should be. Some people use a set of measuring bands on their rolling pins to be sure of the thickness, but that is more than I do. Once your crust is rolled out, double check the size using your pie pan you were going to use for the pie. If it is a little bit too small, roll it out more until it fits right. Then(and this IS the tricky part), carefully transfer the crust to the pie pan. I like to carefully scrape the crust from the counter, folding it over in half and sometimes once again, into fourths using a awesome pancake turner. If you have a Silpat, the crust is easily moved from the counter to the pan. I really should get one of those...
Anyway, after the crust is in the pan, put your yummy filling inside and top with the other crust. If you are making a pumpkin or open faced pie, this recipe will make TWO pies! How cool is that? So, to review, mix the oil with the flour, add the water, then make into balls and roll into crusts. If your dough is a little bit sticky, add a tablespoon more flour. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon more water.
Bake as per your pie instructions. This will normally depend on the type pf recipe. I made Beef pot pie and cooked it for 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Fruit pies are about the same time. Custard pies, like pumpkin, require special attention in the oven and normally two separate temperatures.
For a dessert pie, you can add a small amount of sugar in the flour like 1 or 2 tablespoons.

1 comment:

  1. How does the texture turn out? One of the usual justifications for using solid fats is that they remain in little grains in the dough, rolled into plates, and when they melt out they leave a spot where the flour isn't stuck to itself -- creating flakiness.

    Also, re flattening with your hands: Chefs will tell you only to handle pastry with your fingertips, so you don't warm it up. Do you find it makes a difference?