Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan Pie Crust

Pie crust has not been an easy accomplishment for me. In the past I have hidden behind prepared pie crusts, and frankly, if they were vegan, I’d still use them. Pie crust is a lot of work! Well, okay. It’s not that much work. It just takes planning, and patience, and a light touch...only some of which I have.

My first attempt at pie crust was this past summer. You may remember it as peach cobbler. Yeah, a pie without a crust. That’s how badly it went. But, this was primarily due to rancid shortening. So, pie crust tip #1: check the expiration date on all of your ingredients!

My second attempt went much better, as you can see from my beautiful pecan pie. But, it was still challenging. It tore and much of it was just pressed inelegantly into the pan, but it baked beautifully and was light and flaky alongside the creamy richness of the pecan filling. The wonderful thing is that pie crust is easily made vegan. Where omnivores might use butter or lard, vegans can use Crisco, which is an already established ingredient in many pie crust recipes. Crisco is simply vegetable shortening made from the oil of soybeans, canola, and other plants. So, if you’re going to make your  own pie crusts anyway, give thanks to the animals with a few vegan pies!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
4 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water

Measure flour and salt into the bowl of your food processor. Place in the refrigerator. Cut 3/4 cup Crisco into small cubes, and place in the refrigerator. Fill a measuring cup with ice water and place in the fridge. Allow all the ingredients to cool for 1 hour.

Add Crisco to the flour and salt in the food processor and blend until the shortening is distributed in pea sized crumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of the cold water and process until the dough begins to form a ball. Add more water as necessary, but do not allow the dough to become wet. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Cut the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap, flattening the dough into a disc 1/2” thick. Return to the refrigerator and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on the floured surface. Cover the top and bottom of the dough with plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Take care to use large enough sheets as the dough will expand when you roll it. Roll your dough from the center to the edge, pressing gently. Turn the dough 1/4 turn every time you roll it so that it stays circular. When the dough is 2” larger than your pan, fold the dough into fourths, generously flouring the touching surfaces to prevent sticking, and transfer to your pie pan. Unfold gently. Follow the baking instructions for your particular pie. Enjoy!

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