Making your own vegan pie crust is time consuming but a homemade crust tastes about 23 times better than a store-bought one. You can make multiple batches and freeze the rest for later use. Home made pie crust has that irresistible flakiness and gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you made the whole pie. This vegan Flaky Pie Crust recipe can be used for any pastry such as Vegan Pop Tarts, turnovers, English pasties or anything else you'd like to envelop in tender, flaky goodness.
The food science behind pie crustsIn a pie crust the goal is tenderness and flakiness. This is achieved by a high level of fat and a low level of water. The fats serve two purposes: The Vegan Butter in this recipe breaks into small pieces, coating the flour and inhibiting gluten from forming. The shortening is cut into larger pieces so it doesn't break down as much when it's cut into the flour. This is so the shortening forms thin layers as the dough is rolled. These thin layers catch evaporating water as the crust bakes which causes the crust to form thin, flaky layers similar to what's found in puff pastry.
Vodka in pie crust?This pie crust is adapted from Cook's Illustrated's famous vodka pie crust which takes crusts to the next level. The result is a dough that's easier to work with and more tender and flaky than traditional pie crusts. The vodka allows the dough to feel more moist so it's easier to roll, cut and form. The gluten in the flour doesn't bind in the presence of ethanol so the crust ends up being more tender. The alcohol cooks off so don't worry; your pie crust won't taste like alcohol but it will seem extra moist while you're working with it. This is by design. Don't worry about the quality of the vodka you use. 80 proof vodka is 60% water and 40% alcohol. Just remember: don't drink and roll. If you really aren't able to use vodka then change the water content of this recipe to 6 to 8 Tablespoons total.
Flaky Vegan Pie Crust Recipe2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup (161 grams) or 1 ½ sticks cold Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ cup (108 grams) or 1 stick cold Vegan Shortening or store bought shortening, cut into 4 pieces
¼ cup cold water
3 Tablespoons cold vodka
1) Whisk the dry ingredients together and cut in the Vegan ButterIn a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the Vegan Butter and shortening into the flour until mixture resembles coarse sand. Take extra caution that you don't over mix.
2) Carefully work the water into the doughDrizzle half of the chilled water and vodka over the mixture then gently toss using your fingers. Drizzle the other half in and toss again. Now use the open palm of your hand to press down the dough to compress it. Break up the dough with your fingers and compress it again. Cut the dough in half inside the bowl with a spatula.
3) Chill the dough in the refrigeratorWrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, compress it to a 4 inch disc and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. This dough can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months for later use. This cold rest allows the dough to absorb the water and also enables the gluten to relax. Both of these things will yeild a softer, more elastic dough that is less likely to break and crumble.
If you're working in extremely hot weather conditions, don't be afraid to put things in the freezer for a few minutes while you're working. The goal is to have a cool crust go into a hot oven so the crust 'pops' from the pockets of fat and water. This is what makes a flaky crust.
4) Roll out the vegan pie crustCut two pieces of parchment paper to 12 inch by 12 inch size. Rolls of parchment paper for home use is 12 inches long so you can use the box as a ruler. Unwrap one of the dough disks, place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and cover it with the other sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out from the center until it goes out to the edges of the parchment paper. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and carefully flip the dough over into a pie plate. Now remove the other piece of parchment paper and form the doug to the pie plate. Gently lift the pie crust with one hand and push it into the plate with the other hand. Don't worry if you have to patch the pie crust; this is normal. It's easily patched and repaired by lightly wetting each part to be joined with water then grafting on an extra piece of dough. Once it comes out of the oven, your repairs won't be too noticeable. When I work with pastry crusts I usually have a pastry brush and a glass of water on hand so I can easily wet the dough with the brush and patch it with pieces of leftover dough when necessary. Using scissors, cut off the dough so that ½ inch of it extends beyond the pie plate.
5) Tuck the pie crust inNow go around the perimeter and tuck and fold the outer edge under the crust so that it's uniform with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the dough with your fingers or press the edges down with the end of a fork to shape.
6) Place the top crust on, if usingThis assumes your filling is already in the bottom crust of a non-pre baked pie crust. Roll your other disc of pie dough as directed in Step 4. Using a pastry cutter or a pair of scissors, cut the top crust so it's the same diameter as the outer diameter of the pie crust shell. Fill a small bowl with water and use a culinary brush or your finger to coat the outside top diameter of the pie crust shell. Now take your rolled out pie crust top and remove the parchment paper on the top. Carefully flip it over the top of the pie. Once it's centered, remove the other piece of parchment paper and use scissors to cut the excess off of the pie crust top so it matches the pie crust bottom. Now go around the perimeter and tuck and fold the outer edge under the crust so that it's uniform with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the dough with your fingers or press the edges down with the end of a fork to shape.
7) To pre-bake or not to pre-bakeSome pie recipes that don't require the pie to be baked for very long will require it to be pre-baked, also known as blind-baked. To do this, first preheat your oven to 425F( 218C). Go around the perimeter of your pie crust and tuck and fold the outer edge under the crust so that it's uniform with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the dough with your fingers or press the edges down with the end of a fork to shape. Place your pie crust in the refrigerator until it's firm, about 15 minutes.
Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork about 8 to 10 times to create holes for steam to escape. Now line the pie crust with tin foil then place legumes or the pie weight of your choice inside of the crust. The tin foil keeps the walls of the pie crust from sliding down while under heat.
Place the pie on a cookie sheet that is on the oven's lowest rack. The cookie sheet will draw extra heat to the pie crust's bottom, allowing it to bake at the same rate as the upper parts of the crust. Bake it for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and pie weights. Rotate the pie 180 degrees and bake it for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust is golden.
This recipe makes one 9 inch Flaky Vegan Pie Crust shell with one crust top which is known as a double crust. You can also use this recipe to make two pie shells.