Making pie crust is an art, but not as complex as many home and commercial bakers believe.
It’s a big responsibility — when your loved ones or customers take a bite of your pie, they expect a tender, flaky crust without any sogginess. It should taste buttery and not overly salty, and it shouldn’t overwhelm the inner filling.
What’s the best method for making pie crust that lives up to — and possibly exceeds — expectations?
Is an Electric Mixer the Best Option?
Have you been indoctrinated against using an electric mixer when making pie crust? It’s a common belief that pie crust should only be mixed by hand, or else it’s tough rather than tender.
With today’s modern electric mixers, this couldn’t be further from the truth. And when you have to take the time to cut in butter and shortening stroke by stroke, all by hand, it will seriously reduce your productivity and overall output. As long as you have the right skills, an electric mixer works just fine.
Butter vs. Lard vs. Shortening
Every delicious crust needs fat. But should that fat be butter, lard or shortening? Which is easiest to work with? Which offers the best flavors?
Lard is the easiest substance for making flaky crusts, but the flavor takes away from the pie-eating experience. Butter is hardest to work with because it melts quickly, but it creates a pie crust that melts in your mouth. Shortening is a flavorless substance, but it’s reasonably simple to work with.
Because of the difficulty in finding quality lard, most bakers use a mixture of butter and shortening.
Mix Fat and Flour Thoroughly
One of the first steps in creating a textured pie crust is mixing the fat of your choice with the flour — and mixing them thoroughly. Use your electric mixer to create an uneven, crumbly mixture.
Use Water Sparingly
When a recipe calls for water, use the absolute minimum. Drizzle it in as slowly as possible, and turn your electric mixer off the moment the dough starts to form large clumps.
Keep Everything Cold
Always keep your pie crust cold during the preparation process. When you take the dough out of the mixer to knead and roll it out, use your fingertips versus the palms of your hands to reduce heat transfer. Refrigerate the dough in between steps if it becomes too malleable.
Prevent Browning During Baking
Will the pie crust have the right balance of crispness and tenderness? To help protect the edges from browning too quickly, cut a 2-to-3-inch strip of aluminum foil and lightly wrap it around the edges. About 15 minutes before the pie is done, remove the foil so the edges can lightly brown. Then it’s time to taste your creation!
Dough Tech is a proud supplier of Escher electric mixers, helping bakers everywhere perfect their recipes. Making pie crust becomes less of a stressful science and more of a pleasurable pastime when you depend on an Escher mixer.