Pie Crust Don’ts

This blog is, often, or at least early on, about cooking without a net and what happens when one does that.

I realized that I owe this blog such an entry about making pie crusts.

I don’t bake. Too much like chemistry, too exacting. The part of my personality that makes me great at stir fry makes me terrible at cookies.

The closest I get is pot pies, and when I make those, I always buy vegan pie crusts from the store.

But I’ve seen Alton Brown’s pie crust episode a couple of times and I thought I remembered how it went. So, when a friend was cranking out a couple of peach pies for a work event, I made an off-handed comment about crust making and got roped into demonstrating my 7337.

This was a humbling experience, and I now know that buying vegan pie crust isn’t lazy, it is very, very smart.

If you want to be truly amazed by chemistry, try this sometime. Make pie crust dough with only vegetable flavored shortening, no butter, no lard. Be prepared to throw the result away and spend a lot of time scrubbing any kitchen tools that touched this stuff which will somehow manage to crumble and tear if you look at it sideways while at the same time managing to stick better than simple syrup to pretty much everything near to hand.

Also, do not attempt anything so foolish as trying to convert the result to a flat bread or cookies.

Sometimes, just sometimes, being clever makes things worse. And worse. And worse.

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7 thoughts on “Pie Crust Don’ts

  1. I enjoy baking more than cooking (the exacting-ness appeals to me) but I’ve never attempted pie crust and this post confirms why!

    • My pie crust attempts have been… mediocre. If I wasn’t the only person in the household who liked pies (as a regular presence), I might be tempted to try more often. As I’ve heard, but never attempted, it’s practice at it that is the only way to learn.

  2. My secret to pie crusts: Vodka. Sub out at least half the water in a any given recipe for Vodka, and then feel free to increase the liquid ration a bit. It really helps with the malleability of the crust, and allows one to roll out the dough in a _nearly_ frustration-free way. I can dig up a recipe of you like. I also am a HUGE believer in butter in pie crusts, however, and can’t get behind your all shortening recipe. 😉

  3. I’ve done it, with VERY cold (not frozen solid, but a few steps shy) Willow Run margarine (it’s vegan) cut into small cubes. Keep the margarine cubes on ice until the moment you’re ready to work with it. Work them into the dry mix with a pastry cutter a few at a time, but fairly quickly before it gets to room temp, until you get pea-sized crumbs. If it starts getting sticky, stick it back in the fridge a while. Roll it out between layers of parchment or waxed paper.

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