The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pie crusts

metropical's picture
metropical

pie crusts

normally I use 50/50 butter/crisco.

but I'd like to get off the crisco palm oil train.

can coconut oil be used instead of crisco or are there other non palm oil alternatives that work well with pie crust.?

tssaweber's picture
tssaweber

I use clarified butter (Ghee) instead of fat. Coconut fat flavors the pie crust to much for my taste.

metropical's picture
metropical

kind of thought that might be the case with coconut oil.

do you use 100% ghee?

tssaweber's picture
tssaweber

Yes

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I use 1/2 leaf lard or 100% butter. Both work a treat. Ah, neutral flavor oil, ie, canola or many others make very nice pies shells as well. Here are two of my pies. Sun pie is olive oil-based and savory. Enjoy! 

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

but we have never stopped using pork lard for pies. There really never was a good health case for substituting trans fats for lard. I understand if you have religious reasons not to consume pork or have ethical issues with consuming animal products but the health arguments never held water.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Semolina man is correct leaf lard is rendered pork fat. Specifically, the soft, snow-white fat that protects the organs. That is where leaf lard comes from. Beef fat from that same region of the animal is called, Suet and is also suitable for rendering. That is a good thing for folks that do not consume pork products due to religious reasons. For the folks that do not consume meat products period, I am afraid you are out of luck. Happy pie making and happy New Year!

Kind regards,

The Roadside Pie King

 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Magnifique!

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Leaf lard is pork lard. 

 

I use butter and/or lard in short crust pastry. I agree that avoiding Crisco and the like is a good idea from a health point of view. 

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Deer have render-able fat. 

 

It's good.  It's the same as with cows and pigs.  I imaging also sheep, goats, elk and moose as well.  Venison (deer) fat is outstanding for cooking (sauteeing) and baking (short crust pastry).  I have first hand experience with this and would do it again (render venison fat), given the opportunity. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

I am sure most any animal suitable for the table would work. That being said, while you could use any back fat on the animal, the best, neutral-tasting and smelling lard will be rendered from the organ fat. 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

but tallow (rendered beef fat) has a strong flavour that is hard to clear from the palate. I have never (knowingly) had baked goods with other animal fats.

Benito's picture
Benito

I much prefer 100% butter for my pie crusts.  If you're going to consume saturated fat (lard, palm oil, coconut oil) it might as well be butter since it is the best tasting of those fats in a pastry.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

1/2 lard does add manageability and flake.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

a nicer crust with lard. Haven’t made one with butter for a long time and Crisco probably 20 - 25 years. 20 years ago people wouldn’t believe that people preferred using lard.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Lard is good, and so is butter.  Many bakers today are not familiar with lard, and so I encourage people who haven't tried it to use it once or twice.  It's great in a savory crust such as meat pie or pasties. 

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

My wife and I have both tried making the pie crusts with butter. On a good day maybe we would get 1 or 2 good crusts out of 5 tries each with butter.

We have also tried using Crisco. The Crisco is not as finicky and produces a pretty good crust, but we really want to use butter! What the secret to using butter and obtaining a nice crust?  

We usually use all purpose flour and I'm wondering if pastry flour would work better so as to not develop gluten during mixing. We have the best luck mixing the flour and butter with a fork. We use clod butter cut into small chunks.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

metropical's picture
metropical

I started out with all crisco years ago, coz that's what my MiL did.
Eventually I went to all butter then 50/50.
But I think now I'd go back to all butter unless I can find an acceptable sub for crisco.
Lard is definitely not my spouses wheel house.  Can't eat nothing smarter than me.  It's a low bar.

Technique.
Hears lots tried lots.
I use a very sturdy (like this, but this isn't what I have) .
I cube the fridged butter to 1/4". 
Cut it in to the flour/salt and sugar ... quickly.
I put the bowl in the fridge for 10 or 15 mins.
Then I cut in the water and alcohol.
Chill again before roll out.
Flour the surface, smash down the ball to big puck size, flour the top and move quickly to make my round.
Maybe 3 minutes.
As you can see, I'm big on the chill factor.

My crusts are not pretty (impatient) but the are flaky and do a nice job.

My spouse has done all crisco like her mum taught her, but I think she will be abandoning it for the same reasons I have.  She does it all, dry/cut/water/and roll in about 5 mins and her crusts are seldom less than mine.
And she literately cuts in using the old school 2 butter knife method.  I just made a mess like that.
Although she is a lazy edge pincher like me.
Grain Pie in springform.  This is a richer crust made with more sugar and egg. (pasta frolla)

Strubarb with lattice.

Apple pie walnut crumb top.
As one can see here, I tried the silpat once. Bad idea.
I have been using this kind of thing of late to keep me in the lines.  Floured as well.

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

Thank you for the kind reply. There are so many variations to this process, that's what makes it so interesting!

Your photos look amazing, making hungry for some Pie!

When you say alcohol do you mean Vodka? We were taught to use white vinegar, a tiny bit. 

I think, after reading your post, we may be taking too long to cut in the butter.

Do you cube the butter and then place the cubes in the fridge to get cold prior to introducing them to the dry mixture?   

Are you using all purpose flour?

 

metropical's picture
metropical

any alcohol.  we don't have wudkuh in the house.  I've used rum, cachaça, boubon.
Never tried vinegar but I'd guess the same principle.
Cube the butter out of the fridge and cut with the dry.  Then fridge the cut and dry mix for 15 or so.
KAF AP.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

G Pizza What is the reason you didn't get 5 good crusts out of 5 tries when using butter?  What happened? 

 

Watch Bruno Albouze's videos on making pastry crust.  He makes a fairly wet pastry with eggs, butter, flour and/or nut meal and salt (sugar if a sweet crust), using the food processor.  Then the dough mass goes into the fridge.  He rolls it flat then back in the fridge. 

The point is to keep the dough cold, so it doesn't fall to pieces when handling.  Over chilling the dough after it is rolled flat can make it too brittle and not easy to form.  It's a balancing act.  This is one benefit of Crisco, it doesn't melt as quickly as butter and therefore handling is better.  Lard has handling properties somewhere between Crisco and butter.  

 

For a savory crust, lard adds a wonderful flavor and mouth feel. 

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

Hi Semolina_man, more often than not (while using butter) we end up with a crust that is not flaky, the crust seems to be hard and brittle even. I will watch the videos as you suggested.

I will be gearing up to make a pie this weekend using butter and some tips and suggestions from this post. I think I'm taking too long to mix in the butter as well as probably not balancing out the process. 

I haven't tried lard. I also haven't tried the alcohol, only vinegar.

After rolling out the dough flat, should it go in the fridge?   I will watch the video.

Thanks for all of the tips, I can't wait to dial in on this!

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Overworking the dough can lead to toughness and hardness. 

It's easy to overwork dough.  Videos show people "playing" with dough instead of making it properly. 

Short crust pastry needs to be swiftly mixed, a knead or two, then refrigerated.  I normally refrigerate overnight before rolling out. 

If the crust is delicate, roll flat onto a silicone baking mat and refrigerate.  Then pull it out and carefully form it into the dish, ring, pan, etc.  If you watch Bruno A.'s videos you will become a master of pastry.