Nothing beats the feeling when you make a pie completely from scratch. However, unless you are a professional baker, pastry can be intimidating. I shied away for years, but now absolutely love baking pies.
The Science of Flaky Pastry
Inside the hot oven, the fat layered in the dough melts. This creates a hole which is further expanded by the steam from the water in the dough. These reactions cause a lift in the pastry, resulting in a flaky crust.
An easy way to get into the habit of baking pie and thus improving skill, is to break the process in two:
- Make ahead and freeze the crust.
- Assemble and fill the pie, on the day of baking.
I like to prepare 2 or 3 double crusts and have them in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge the night before you want to bake. And if something comes up on the day and you can’t bake, the crust is good in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I do prefer a mix of shortening and butter, not simply for cost (but that’s always an incentive). The combination of the two fats makes for a flaky more flavourful crust.
I have three favourite crust recipes. One is attached to the Timeless Classic – Apple Pie post. I have also since tried these other two: one is all shortening (kimbo) while the other is all butter. Love them all. Why not make both, label each bag and decide on your favourite?
Homemade Flaky Pie Crust II
- 4 cups (500 grams) flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 3/4 cup (320 grams) chilled shortening
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
DirectionsMix the 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt and 3 Tablespoons sugar together.
Into the bowl, using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in the 1 3/4 cup chilled shortening.
Lightly beat the egg and mix with the water.
Pour in the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture. Using a fork, bring the dough together.
Wrap tightly in cling film, or a plastic/food bag and chill for at least an hour in the fridge, or throw in the freezer.
Homemade Butter Flaky Pie Crust III
- 375 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 280 grams (1 1/4 cups) cold butter cubed
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1/4 cup ice cold water (if you have no vodka, then 1/2 cup of ice cold water will do)
DirectionsIn a bowl, whisk together the 375 grams flour, 1 Tablespoon of salt and 2 Tablespoons sugar.
Take the chopped cold 280 grams butter and using a fork or pastry cutter, mix it into the flour. You still want to be left with visible solid bits of butter (pea size), that will melt into flaky goodness.
Still using your fork, mix in the quarter cup of ice cold water and quarter cup vodka or, half cup of ice water. The water is just enough to moisturise the flour and the dough begins to form large clumps. Gluten does not develop in alcohol, and the alcohol evaporates in the oven.
Tip the mixture on to a floured surface and press it together while twisting it until it comes together and holds.
Wrap tightly in cling film, or a plastic/food bag and chill for at least an hour in the fridge, or throw in the freezer until the day you want to bake a pie.
It is a large amount of crust, so divide in two or use both for a double crust pie.