In my opinion, one of the best ways to get to know and understand a person is through pie. It's not super scientific or anything, mostly just one basic question. Do they like pie? If yes, they are a great person. If they've never had pie, feel free to express concern. And if they don't like pie, it's time to run as far as you can, as fast as humanly possible.
Pie is the perfect dessert. Fillings that range from light and fluffy to sweet and sticky, with layers of tart cherries or piles of thick meringue. And don't even get me started on the perfection that is a pecan pie, is that the best pie of all time? Let's discuss in the comments. No matter how you slice it, pie is a masterpiece of a dessert. Perfect for any occasion and sure to be a hit at any table.
But arguably the most important part of any pie is the crust. It doesn't matter how delicious the filling is if you've got soggy pastry or burnt edges. I can't even tell you how many pies I've ruined by relying on a pre-made pie crust. You know the kind, you buy it in a package in the refrigerated or frozen section of the supermarket. It's convenient, easy to use and has a fair taste payoff. Provided that you don't burn it to all hell while you're trying to get a pecan pie to set that is. So it makes sense that so many people prefer to use something pre-made when they're thinking of making a pie.
I get it.
But hear me out. Making a pie crust from scratch is not difficult. And the taste is AMAZING. Also, people are always very impressed by it, even though it only takes like 10 minutes. How do I know this? Because last Thanksgiving I made 15 pies. And I've made so many more than that in the last 24 years of my life. Every time I bring a pie somewhere, people are always shocked when they find out I made the crust from scratch.
I used to use this pie crust recipe that my family lovingly referred to as "Mormon pie crust". It was scribbled on the inside front cover of my mother's copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I think the story is that one of my old babysitters, who happened to be Mormon, shared the recipe with my mother, and our family pie crust was born from there. That recipe was my secret weapon and after making it so many times, it's how I realized that the secret to a flakey pie crust is vinegar.
Other things that make a pie crust stand out are a rich buttery flavor, that's not too overpowering. It should support and lift the flavors of whatever filling you use, not overwhelm them. It should be sturdy, but ready easily crumble when pressure is applied. It's should be the part of the pie that you want to save. And when you take that last bite, it should leave you wanting more.
And since most traditional pie crust recipes have butter and eggs, I came to terms with the fact that pie would never fit into my plant based lifestyle.
But then it hit me.
Remember the magic that is aquafaba? The amazing brine leftover in canned beans that can be used as an egg replacer? It's the perfect addition to a homemade pie crust. It's thick, viscous texture binds all of the flour and shortening together, and works as an egg wash on the outside of the crust as well!
I was hesitant at first, mostly because I've always been so loyal to my Mormon pie crust. But over the weekend I experimented a little and I'm happy to say that I might have made the best vegan pie crust of all time. Seriously. I couldn't believe how similar it was to the pie crusts that I remember eating.
I brought a homemade peach pie to work this week (recipe coming soon!). And even my co-workers, many of whom are not restricted in diet the way I am, devoured every last piece of pastry.
The Best Vegan Pie Crust
makes two 9 inch pie crusts
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups butter flavored shortening (crisco brand is vegan friendly)
- 2-3 tablespoons aquafaba
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Scoop flour into a large bowl. Then, add the shortening. The easiest way to do this is by slicing the shortening ahead of time, and then using a pastry cutter* to mix the ingredients together. Once the mixture is fully combined, it will be a little crumbly. Now, add the salt, vinegar and aquafaba, gradually. Use your hands to combine, and pack the mixture into a dough. You will know it's ready when it holds itself together.
Split the dough in half, and form two balls. I like to use plastic wrap and store the dough in the freezer** overnight. You can also store them in freezer bags and that way you'll always have ready to use pie crust on hand!
I've found that pastry dough works best when it's cold, so I take it out of the freezer the morning that I want to make pie, and let it thaw until I can easily mold with my hands (about 10 minutes).
*Trust me, it's necessary. You can try using two knives to kind of chop things up. But really a pastry cutter is inexpensive and super helpful when you're making a killer pastry.
**Dough will store in the freezer for 2-3 weeks.