Now there are many different tricks and tips for making the perfect piecrust. My mother in-law uses vodka instead of water and using a food processor is also helpful, however, my rule of thumb for piecrust making is: use butter. Toss that Crisco in the garbage if you haven’t already because the news is out. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil is disgusting. Not only does it taste gross, (did you ever try eating it as a kid because it looked like ice cream?) but also it is a nutritional nightmare. Partially hydrogenated oils are loaded with trans fat. Trans fat increases your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and decreases HDL (the good kind). It also increases triglycerides in your blood and causes inflammation in the body. The saturated fat that is in butter doesn’t have all these nasty side effects.
Okay I hear you saying, “Crisco makes the flakiest crust”. I’ll buy it. Shortening has a wider melting range so it is able to stay in solid form while you are preparing and rolling out the crust. The pea size granules that are desired in piecrust baking will then melt in the oven, creating layers in the dough and a flakier crust. But the same effect can be achieved with butter if the butter is extra cold and the dough is not over mixed or kneaded. Vegans can also use coconut oil or palm oil instead of butter as long as it is kept cold prior to mixing it with the flour and water.
In the piecrust that I made tonight I substituted ½ of the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour to give it a little more fiber, protein, and a nuttier flavor. It was delicious! What kinds of pies do you enjoy making? What are your secrets to make the flakiest pie crust?