Monday, June 11, 2012


Last year, I had grand plans to make several types of cream pie, but only ended up making one (see my post for Praline Cream Pie).  Boy do I wish I'd forged ahead with others, since the Madagascar vanilla wafers I extolled from Back to Nature for cookie-crumb crusts now no longer appear to be vegan.  The company has switched from evaporated cane juice to cane sugar as a sweetener, and the ever-suspicious 'natural flavoring' has made its way into the ingredients, which I strongly suspect might be butter or milk derived.  I'm awaiting confirmation from the company, but in the meantime, it's summer and I want to make more cream pies.

Enter this piecrust - it's a light, flaky version thanks to the combination of butter and shortening (I use Earth Balance for both), making it just right for a chilled, creamy filling.  Of course, you could use it for fruit pies in the winter too.  Often considered intimidating, pie dough is nothing more than flour, sugar, fat, and ice water, and it takes under half an hour of active time.  So skip the store-bought, and stay tuned because I'll be giving you a cream pie filling (or two) for this crust next.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 4 tablespoons ice water
  • Cooking spray
1. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a bowl with the sugar and salt.

2. Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry blender, until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Sprinkle with the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while tossing with a fork.  The mixture should still be somewhat crumbly - you don't want to form a ball.

3. Gently press the dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill for 15 minutes.

4. Place 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp work surface (making sure the plastic extends at least 14 inches in all directions).  Unwrap the chilled dough and place on the plastic; cover with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap.  Roll, through the plastic, into a 13-inch circle and freeze for 5 minutes.

5. Remove the top sheets of plastic from the dough, and flip over so the remaining plastic is on top.  Fit into a deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Remove the remaining plastic wrap; fold the edges of the crust under, and flute.

Note: I'm still honing my fluting technique, essentially a pinching motion with your fingers around the rim.  Here's a lovely short video explaining it better than I can in words.  Your fluting doesn't need to be perfect, but do make time for this step; rather than being merely decorative, it helps hold the crust up while it bakes.

6. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

If you're not up for making pie filling, I can think of a few other fun summer-y things to do with this pie crust.  Crumble over vegan vanilla ice cream and sauteed apples for an "apple pie" sundae perhaps.  Or slather with jam and peanut butter for the best snack time pb+j ever.  

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1/10 of the crust), Calories 113 

Tasting Notes:
Pretty much perfect - flaky and tender and nicely buttery.  Just the right hint of sugar made this taste more like a shortbread than a crust, in fact, especially when I topped it with jam.  So good you could practically eat it on its own, but do stay tuned for pie fillings.


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