Pie Dough – my current version, with tweaks

After seeing  a number of articles in the past year on pie-baking, I decided to make an effort to find a pie dough that was more than just an envelope for the filling.  I wanted something super-flaky, with a good flavor, that would roll out well and compete for limelight status with my pie filling.

I started with this recipe from Chickens in the Road.  It’s a great basic recipe all on its own.  I combined it with a couple of tricks learned from Cooks Illustrated and King Arthur flour, and came up with this one.

First, combine all the dry ingredients.  If you keep your whole wheat flour in the freezer, even better – the more chilled you can keep this dough while making it, the better it turns out.  I have found that 1 part whole wheat flour to three parts white flour gives this recipe a nutritional boost without comprising flavor or texture.

pie1

Second, I get my liquid ingredients lined up.  The problem with using water for pie crust is that the simple act of mixing it in starts gluten development in the flour.  Great for bread; not so great for pie.  Cooks Illustrated published an article awhile back stating that vodka doesn’t develop gluten when mixing, so I use a mixture of vodka and ice (which melts into water) to moisten my dough.

pie2

Blend the eggs, vinegar (it helps with flakiness) and vodka together in a measuring cup until the eggs are thoroughly whisked – I use my stick blender – then add enough ice to raise the liquid level in the measuring cup by a half cup.  Set that aside to chill while you work with the frozen fats.

I render my own lard, which sounds all sophisticated and everything until one realizes that this only involves whacking it up into bite-size bits and melting it in the crockpot with a ½ t. baking soda until it’s all runny.  Strain, chill in a pot of cold water overnight in the fridge, then package it up and freeze it.  I weigh it into 15-oz. chunks for this recipe, wrap in plastic, and freeze until I’ve got time to make pie dough. I get my pork fat for lard from the butcher; most independent butchers will sell it.  I highly recommend calling ahead to have them put it aside for you, since I’ve found that my own butcher (Kelso’s) tends to use up their pork fat for sausage and not have much on hand.  You can also find it at farmer’s market; look for the people selling frozen meat.

I use a nearly 50/50 blend of lard and butter for pies.  I like the flavor of butter and the texture lard brings.  You could do this recipe with just butter, or with shortening {shudder}, but be sure to freeze it first.  Running the frozen fats through the food processor attachment on my Bosch is child’s play, and super fast.  Keeping the fat frozen makes it easier to work with, and keeps the dough from heating up too much and developing the gluten.

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Add the fats to the flours, and cut in (love my Bosch bowl with the whisks for this), until the fat is mostly broken up into pea-size pieces or smaller.

This isn’t quite mixed enough:

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… now it is:

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Add the cold liquids – I use a spoon to remove any ice chunks before adding the liquids to the bowl  – and mix until just combined.

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You can see that it isn’t perfectly blended.  This is OK.

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Weigh into 9-oz. portions, form in to disks, wrap and freeze.

pie8

I use bread bags from a bakery supply house to freeze my dough portions in, and then cut those open and roll out my dough between them.  Pie assembly tutorial is here.

pie9

So – for those of you that have been after me to get this recipe online – here it is!

Super-flaky Pie Crust

6 c. white flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. + 1 t. salt
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
½ c. vodka or ice-cold water
½ c. ice
2 c. lard (15 oz.), frozen
1 ½ c. butter, frozen

  1.  Blend flours and salt in mixer bowl.
  2. Thoroughly whisk together vinegar, eggs and vodka/water.  Add ice.  Set aside.
  3. Grate frozen lard and butter.  A food processor works great for this step.
  4. Using the whisk attachments in mixer, combine flour mixture, lard and butter until the largest fat pieces are no larger than small peas.
  5. The ice should be pretty much melted into the liquid ingredients. Fish out any pieces with a spoon, then add the liquid ingredients to the flour/fat mixture until just combined.
  6. Divide dough into 8 equal (9-oz.) portions.  Flatten into disks about 1-2” thick, wrap well in plastic, and freeze.
  7. When ready to make pie, pop the dough into the fridge (if you think of it at least a couple hours ahead of time), or thaw on the counter for a half hour until just pliable.
  8. Roll out between two pieces of plastic, with plenty of flour to keep it from sticking.
  9. This is very delicate dough; it bakes up very flaky but it will tear very easily.  If it’s getting too soft, deposit it back into the freezer for a few minutes, and it will firm back up.  If putting a hot filling into it, be prepared to put it promptly into the oven, as it will start to melt.

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About dep31

I am a farm-raised homeschooling mom. I take great joy in making nutritious food that inspires people to take seconds. Thirds, anyone? We are a God-fearing, Christ worshiping family that enjoys good friends and good eats. If the kitchen is clean and the living room carpet is visible, then that's a nice bonus.
This entry was posted in Baking, Comfort Food, Desserts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pie Dough – my current version, with tweaks

  1. Pingback: Pie Crust Cookies | Domestic Endeavors

  2. Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

  3. Pingback: Farm & Garden Chicken Pie | Domestic Endeavors

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