Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Playing with pie crust

I did a lot of baking this week and didn't want to make a dessert pie, so I made a quiche instead.

 I always avoided pies because I was afraid of the crust. Well, it turns out the crust is the easy part. I make quiche a lot, but only recently started using my own crust once I realized this. Today I added green tea powder and dried mint (about 1/4 teaspoon each) to the flour, and mixed it with some green mint tea still sitting in the pot from this morning.

After a couple of false starts, I seem to have developed a bit of a knack for a tender and flaky crust.  I've been playing around with the basic recipe; here are some of my variations.

Basic pie crust
2 cups flour (I use a wheat pastry flour)
2/3 cup shortening (yes, I've been using lard, from humanely-raised local pigs)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-6 teaspoons water

Whisk the flour and salt, then cut in the shortening until it's mixed to pea-sized bits. Add the liquid a tablespoonful at a time, mixing it with a fork, and being careful not to overwork any single portion of the the dough. The more you handle it, the tougher it will be. I've found because lard is so moist, I usually need only 3-4 tablespoons of liquid.

Finish the last bit of combining with your hands, divide dough into two equal pieces and flatten into disks. Put one away while you roll out the other, it's easier to handle when it's slightly chilled.

Some variations:

You can alter the flour. I've substituted
1/4 cup oats + 1/4 cup ground walnuts
1/4 rice flour
mixed white and wheat flour
used only whole wheat (nice for a quiche)

I've add the following to the crust (not all at once):
dried orange zest
a tablespoon of raw sugar (this is nice for dessert pies)
various sweet or savory spices including 
ground coriander, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, ground clove
green tea powder
dried mint

You can mess with the liquid you use too. I've substituted
tea (including a green mint)
apple cider
orange juice


  1. If your crust doesn't contain lard, you can also make use of a vodka + water combination. The vodka helps to moisten the crust as you roll it out and evaporates in the oven. I've tried it myself, and it works famously.


  2. FF-- I may have stumbled on that trick (which my SIL also mentioned to me) because I've substituted liqueurs, which have a vodka base. Eliz- the green crust was very cool. I bought the green tea powder on a whim and I'm addicted to it!