A lot of people I know panic if you even mention, "Pie crusts." Say, "Vegan pie crusts" and people really flip out. In reality, pie crusts, even vegan pie crusts, aren't that hard to make. Once you get the hang of making pie crusts they're really easy to throw together for fruit pies and other dessert pies, dinner pies such as vegetable pie or you can use pie crust dough to make pop tarts, veggie "hot pockets" and much more.
Below are some helpful FAQs and after that, I've included a basic vegan pie crust making tutorial...
What's the number one vegan pie crust tip?
The best and most useful pie crust tip in the whole world is, "Touch your dough as little as humanly possible." Kneading is a useful skill if you bake, but kneading is not useful when making pie crusts. The more you mess with your pie dough, the tougher your dough will become.
Rolling dough is okay. Patting dough down with your hands is okay. Even folding dough over and re-rolling as I show in my pop tart recipe is okay if your goal is a layered crust, but do not touch your dough more than necessary and never ever full on knead it.
Should you use vegan butter or vegan shortening?
I've made a couple of Earth Balance pie crusts and they tend to leak butter, which works okay for fruit pies, but not cream pies or cheesecake. For now, I suggest making pie crusts with vegan shortening not vegan butter.
Are wheat crusts or white crusts better?
White flour crusts are more flaky, less tough, but you can use wheat flour mixed with white flour or whole wheat pastry flour and still get a killer pie crust. In fact, if you go organic, you're going to end up with a more wheat-based crust anyhow because organic flours are not as refined and are not bleached. Lately I've been using a basic organic whole wheat pastry flour for pretty much all my baking needs and it works great for pie crusts.
Is pastry flour better than regular flour?
Personally, I don't think pasty flour is better than regular. I've made decent pie crusts with both types. You shouldn't use bread flour or 100% stone ground wheat flours for a pie crust as a rule because there's too much gluten which makes for a less flaky, less tender crust.
How do you stop the edges of your crust from burning?
Your pie crust edges will bake much faster than the any other part of your pie, which can mean a tough or worse, burnt pie crust edge. Placing foil on your pie crust edge for the first or second half of the cooking process is an easy fix. It's much easier though and less wasteful to use a dedicate reusable pie crust shield. You can find these pie shields in aluminum or silicone.
What can you coat a vegan pie crust with?
Brushing the top of your crust with a tablespoon of organic alternative milk before baking will give you a semi-shiny pie. If you want to add some color, brush on a bit of melted vegan butter before baking. For a pretty sparkle simple sprinkle on some organic sugar (with or without milk or butter).
How do you bake a single pie crust shell without filling in it?
When you place your dough in the pan, prick it a bit with fork tins. Then use a basic set of pie weights in order to stop your pie crust from expanding upwards (i.e. filling with air like a balloon). You can also use dried beans but beans can one, make your crust soggy and two, why waste beans?
How can you spice up vegan pie crusts?
If you want your pie dough a bit sweeter, add a dash of organic sugar to your dough. You can also add fresh or dried herbs or spices to your dough for a more flavorful crust. If you like you can add a dash of flax seed or ground nuts too. For a dinner pie crust you can also mix in a bit of vegan cheese.
Do you have to chill dough before rolling?
I don't because I'm a lazy baker, and chilling takes more time. Lots of people do chill their dough though. I'll leave this up to you. I find un-chilled dough quicker and easier to work with, but that's just my opinion.
Basic vegan pie crust tutorial
The way you make a good pie crust is exactly the same if you're using vegan butter or shortening, except for, obviously, the butter or shortening. Gather the following ingredients to make a batch of double pie crusts.
- 2 cups organic flour
- Extra flour for rolling out dough
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 2/3 cups vegan shortening
- 6-9 tablespoons icy cold water.
Making your crust
Remember, the key is to touch your dough as little as possible. So do these steps carefully, but quickly and no kneading!
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
- If adding sugar, ground flax seed or other herbs or spices add them now. If you'd like to add cheese or nuts or larger seeds, add them after you mix in your water.
- Add your shortening to your dry mix and cut it in with a pastry cutter or forks.
- With your pastry blender or fork kind of mix, scoop and blend the shortening into the flour evenly, until it resembles little pea-sized pieces or shreds of flour.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of water at a time over your dough mixture. Use spatula or your hands to incorporate the water into the flour mixture. Add more water (2 tablespoons at a time) until you've got a dough that just sticks together. It usually only takes about 6-9 tablespoons of water in total.
- Divide your dough in half and form each half into a ball.
- Place your ball of dough on a flat, flour sprinkled surface. Sprinkle more flour on top, then roll out to your desired size.
- Now, if you fail to roll a perfect pie dough circle that's fine. However, DO NOT attempt to re-knead the dough together and re-roll it. Messing with dough = not flaky pie crust. If you're not sure how large of a circle to roll out, test it by placing your pie plate on your dough as shown above.
- To make your dough easy to pick up, fold your dough into half, then half again. Place it in your pie plate and unfold it. If you're nervous about folding your crust, you can also roll your dough out on parchment. Then pick the parchment up, dough and all and flip it onto your pie plate.
- If you can make fancy edges go for it. I'm no good at fancy pie edges so I tend to stamp the edges with fork tins, as shown above. If you want to try fancy edges, see the following links: Make a woven lattice pie crust and tons of pretty pie edges.
- Fill your crust with filling of choice, add the top crust if necessary. If adding a top crust be sure to slice some steam vent holes.
- Bake, eat and enjoy your pie.
Extra tip: If you have leftover pie dough, cut some into cute shapes like leaves, stars or pumpkins and bake them. Once your pie is baked, add the little shapes to the top of your pie.