There’s a myth about pie crusts, and I’m not sure where it comes from. For some reason, people think pie crusts are hard to make. I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. While I’ll admit it can take a little practice to get them looking perfect, the only thing you should be scared of when talking about pie crusts is some of the ingredients in those store-bought versions.
Here’s a quick rundown of some reasons I like to avoid those refrigerated pie crusts:
- Similar to their refrigerated cousins—crescent rolls, these pie crusts are made from enriched, bleached white flour. That’s flour that’s had all the whole grain nutrients stripped away with a couple “vitamins” added back. Stick to real, whole grains—they’re much better for you!
- Partially hydrogenated lard is chemically altered lard. While the use of lard from pastured-raised animals is making a comeback, this chemically altered fat is one you should definitely avoid.
- BHA and BHT are used to keep foods from going rancid, but both are potentially dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Of course, the FDA has failed to act on this and still permits BHA’s use in foods.
- Yellow 5 and Red 40 are both on CSPI’s “additives to avoid” lists due to a variety of significant health concerns/studies. Don’t you find it surprising a pie crust needs added colors to look appetizing? Something just isn’t right with this!
To avoid these chemical concoctions one option is to look for organic, whole wheat frozen pie crusts—I know my local co-op and Whole Foods both stock them. Or you can make your own pie crust. Yes, it takes a little time, but pie crusts really are pretty easy.
100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust Recipe
A good friend of mine recently shared his pie crust recipe with me. He used to blog just about pies, so he’s my go-to pie expert.
I’m really excited to share my real food version of his recipe that I like to call 100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust. The bottom line is this crust is simply delicious AND made with real ingredients — and it’s not hard to make at all! I hope you’ll try it!
No matter what kind of pie or quiche you’re making, I hope this 100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust can be your new go-to option! So let’s get baking! 🙂
- 2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter into the texture of little peas— you don’t want the butter all mixed in!
- Mix in the cold water and vinegar. Pulse until the dough forms a ball.
- Divide the ball into two balls, flatten each ball slightly, then wrap in waxed paper and place in a zippered bag.
- Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes to minimize the amount of processing needed! How? Cut the stick of butter in half lengthwise, then again lengthwise. Then cube butter into small pieces.
Less is more when using your food processor to make a pie crust. Go slow and DON'T over mix. When the dry ingredients + butter are coarse and resemble peas, STOP. Then making sure the pie crust forms a ball in the food processor is crucial. Add the last bit of cold water slowly and pulse. When ready the dough will literally come together to form a ball. Again, the less processing the better!
When using maple syrup instead of sugar, I suggest cutting back the water to 4 tablespoons to avoid a wet crust. Add the maple syrup to room temperature water. Then chill the maple syrup water for use in the crust. You can also opt for an organic blonde coconut palm sugar in the crust, depending on your food values. For me, I consider this dessert, and I don’t eat dessert very often. So, I'm okay using a little sugar. When I buy sugar, though, it’s organic, fair-trade, sustainable, and unbleached.
Don't have white vinegar on hand? Vodka makes a great substitution!
Kitchen resources and tips:
- A good food processor makes mixing up my whole wheat pie crust recipe über easy! If you don’t have one, I love my Cuisinart!
- A good rolling pin is essential to rolling out your pie crust. I have three different types of rolling pins (crazy, huh?) and this french style pin is what I prefer.
- These pie crust and pastry mats are a cool tool, especially when you’re learning how to roll out your crust.