Monday, April 27, 2009

Basic Pie Crust with Whole Wheat Flour

For years I made my mother's pie crust: 3 cups flour, 1 cup shortening, 1 teaspoon salt, 3-4 tablespoons cold water.

Then, yuk!, we found out about what shortening can do to the arteries and I switched to butter.

Then we found out how darned important fiber is and I switched to whole wheat flour.

Over the years I kept tweaking the recipe until it no longer resembled my mother's.

Sadly I stopped making pies altogether because the crust just didn't come out right.

Then along came a really nice whole wheat pastry flour and I started experimenting with pie crust again.

And now, finally, I think I've got it.

I'm convinced that it all comes down to the butter. Use an unsalted butter that is high in butterfat and low in moisture, and keep it very, very cold when you use it.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour Pie Crust
Christine's original recipe
1 cup unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup COLD unsalted European or European-style butter, cut into small cubes, keep cold
1 tablespoon cold cream
3 tablespoons cold water (more if necessary)

Place the flours, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse a few times to mix.
Add the cubes of butter all at once and use small pulses until the butter resembles small peas. Don't over process.
With the feed tube thingy removed, pulse as you add the cream, then pulse as you add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is no longer crumbly.
Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for 1 hour (can be left in fridge for a day or two).
Remove from the fridge and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
Cut the ball in 2 equal pieces.
Flour a flat surface and your rolling pin then roll out one piece of the dough into a circle 12 to 14- inches in diameter and 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.
Roll the dough onto your pin and drape over a pie plate, settling the dough into the plate.
Trim to a 1-inch overhang.
Fill with your favorite filling.
Repeat the instructions for the top crust.
Here is a good link for learning how to crimp pie crust.
Cook's Notes:
I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie using this crust recipe. The crust was flaky and buttery but not oily. Moreover, it passed the discerning guests taste test, making it a crust to blog about.

Copyright © 2005-2009, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Christine, Thank you! I think this is the pie crust I have been searching for. Over the course of my blog I have lamented about my search for the right pastry, starting with my Mother and Grandmother's Crisco based pie crust. I want it to be healthier and you have hit on a good alternative. Will let you know what my results are.

  2. Thanks so much, Penny. I'm glad to be of help and hope the crust turns out perfectly.

  3. Looks good, I have yet to pluck up the courage to try and make pastry with gluten free flour. I have tried some gluten free pies from a health shop in Brighton and the pastry was superb. I do hanker after pastry every now and then!!

  4. Anne, I think you should gather your ingredients, secretly, then just plunge right in and make a crust. Don't tell anyone you're doing it. If it doesn't turn out, toss it. No one will be the wiser, but you will have gained some knowledge to apply to the next time. :)

  5. Yes, yes, yes......this is the perfect pie crust. I have had the most difficult time through the years experimenting with crusts that didn't require so much fat ~ and gad forbid ~those store bought blobs of fat dough in boxes the the grocery! I think you have hit on something here......thanks!

  6. I have such a dread of making pie crust. I really don't seem to have the skill for it. But I will press on and perhaps give this one a go. One day I'll succeed with a crust that makes me happy. Perhap you'll have the recipe I needed all along, hmm? :)

  7. And when you succeed, Nerissa, please put it on your blog for all of us to rejoice with you!

  8. This is going to be really good for me. I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.


  9. You are so very welcome Paz!

  10. Christine,

    This recipe sounds delicious! Do you know the nutrition facts? (fat, carbs, sugar, etc.) I would appreciate that. Thanks

  11. Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for visiting; I'm glad you like this recipe. Although I will tell people if a food or ingredient is, in my humble opinion, healthy or not, I don't go into the details of nutrition facts in my recipes. It would be a fairly easy thing for you to do. All food packaging in the U.S has a nutrition table on the label per unit of serving measurement. For example, I know that sugar has about 16 calories per teaspoon so
    1 tablespoon (12 grams) would have approx. 48 calories. The Daily Plate is a good site to use for this:
    Good luck.

  12. YUM! I like the sound of this!! Thanks for the recipe! Great site! :)

  13. Thank you, Marielle. I'm glad you like it.

  14. Hi Christine,Your pie crust recipe will be my first foray into making my own crust. Sure looks like a great one.I am just learning to bake pies and such. I am am 64 yr old retired married guy with a wife who still works, so I have alot of time on my hands.So here I go, I will let you know if it was a successful crust.
    Thanks for your blog and recipe.

  15. Best of luck to you, Rick. Please let me know how it turns out.


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