Homemade pie crust is one of those things that can be intimidating to make the first time, but it’s actually not that hard. I got a new pie plate and a pie bird for Christmas, so I wanted to try them out. I veganized a pie crust recipe from The Joy of Cooking to make an apple pie a little while back and the crust came out perfectly. Everyone has their own way of making pie crust, but this one works really well for me.
Growing up, my mom always made her own pie crusts, and she’s really good at it. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but I think homemade pie crust is so much better than frozen store bought crust! It’s really worth the effort to make it yourself. Try out this recipe with your favorite filling. It makes enough for the top and bottom crust for a 9 inch pie plate. It could also work as the top of a pot pie if you added in some savory spices like thyme or rosemary.
A few tips before you start… The recipe calls for using ice cold water. The reason that you want cold water is so the shortening and vegan butter don’t melt in the dough. On that note, the shortening and vegan butter should also be cold when you start working with them. Don’t leave the vegan butter out to soften up. Another important thing is not to overwork the dough or it will get tough. Just do enough to get everything combined. The amount of water you need to add can also vary greatly depending on a lot of different factors. Just pay attention to the dough and only add a little at a time until you have just enough. If you’re wondering what a pie bird is, it’s a little ceramic bird that is open on the bottom and the beak. It helps vent steam out of your pie while it bakes. They help prevent the filling from boiling up and breaking through the crust.
If you want some very detailed and more scientific info about making pie crust and the various factors that come into play, check out this post on Serious Eats called The Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vegan sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Spectrum vegetable shortening
1 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance or Smart Balance) or another cup of vegetable shortening
1/3 + 1 tbsp (and maybe more) of ice cold water
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir so they are well combined.
- Break the vegan butter and shortening into chunks and add them to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. The mixture will start to form crumbs, with some of the shortening and vegan butter remaining in about pea size clumps. Don’t over mix it. It should be dry and crumby, not pasty like a dough or batter.
- Slowly drizzle 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp of ice cold water over the mixture. Using a spatula, gently cut the water into the mixture so it’s evenly distributed. It will start to form into balls of dough that should stick together if you press them together. If the dough won’t come together, continue to add ice cold water 1 tbsp at a time until it does. The dough should be a little on the dry and flaky side however, so don’t add too much water. You can use your hands or the spatula to gently coax the dough together. It’s not going to look smooth like bread dough. It will be a rougher texture. It’s okay to still see little bits of the shortening and butter in the dough. Don’t overwork the dough. Just do enough to get everything combined.
- Separate the dough into two even balls and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, but it’s best to leave it several hours.
- When you’re ready to use the dough, preheat the oven to 425°. Roll the dough out on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin until it has formed a circle big enough for your pie plate. If any holes form, patch them with extra dough. Using the rolling pin to support the dough, pick it up and place it flat in the pie plate. Pinch off excess dough that hangs over the sides.
- If you’re using a pie bird, place the pie bird in the middle of the crust and fill the pie with your favorite fruit filling around the pie bird. The bird’s head should be sticking out of the top of the fruit. Then roll out the dough for the top in the same way you rolled the bottom. Lift it up with the rolling pin and place it on top of the filling. Cut a little x in the center of the dough so the head of the pie bird can peak through the crust. Crimp down the edges of the dough to form a seal, removing excess dough as you go. If you aren’t using a pie bird, you’ll want to poke the top crust with a fork 6-8 times around the top so the steam can vent.
- Before baking the pie, I brushed on a little soy milk and sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar, but this is optional. I like the texture and golden color it creates on top though.
- Bake the pie at 425° for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and bake 30 to 45 minutes more. The top of the pie should look golden brown and you should see thick juice bubbling around the edges when it’s done. Pull the pie out of the oven and let it cool. Enjoy!