Tender flaky pie crust is a recipe that eludes many home cooks. This recipe, from noted food writer and kitchen sleuth, Shirley O. Corriher, comes to the rescue with a recipe that includes some interesting ingredients.
She explains that sugar, extra shortening, sour cream, and a bit of frozen orange juice concentrate are key factors in adding tenderness. The surprise addition of graham cracker crumbs on the bottom speeds bake time and dries for crispness.
I can verify after trying this recipe that it’s the best pie crust I’ve ever had. The method itself is fairly common, but do read through the steps before you begin, as you should with all recipes. The instructions may seem long, but only because they are explicit so that even the most novice cook can follow along. Don’t miss the yummy variations at the end!
Tender Flaky Pie Crust Recipe
1-1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour (see Note)
1 cup instant flour (Wondra® or Shake & Blend®)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 pound (1 cup or 1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup very cold shortening, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
8 ounces cream cheese
1 Tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 Tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
1 to 2 Tablespoons cold whole milk if needed
4 double graham crackers, crushed to fine crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1. Stir together both flours, the salt, sugar, and butter cubes in a medium mixing bowl and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
2. When the flour-butter mixture is cold, dump it out onto a clean counter. Roll over the mixture with a rolling pin to flatten the butter and coat it with flour. Some butter will stick to the pin. Scrape it off and scrape the mixture together. Roll over the mixture again. Rapidly continue rolling and scraping together three times. Scrape back into the bowl and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. Dump onto the counter again; roll and scrape together three more times.
The mixture should look like paint flakes that have fallen off a wall. Add the pieces of shortening to the mixture and roll them in, scraping and rerolling two to three times. Scrape the mixture back into the bowl and return to the freezer for 10 minutes. If the butter becomes very soft at any time during the rolling, immediately return the mixture to the freezer for 5 minutes.
3. Stir together the cream cheese, corn syrup, and frozen juice concentrate. Stir the cream cheese mixture into the flour-fat mixture. Add milk only if needed to get the mixture to hold together. Pull the dough together into a ball, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours or overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (204 degrees C.).
5. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 6- to 8-inch disk about 1 inch thick. For a one-crust pie, freeze or refrigerate one disk for later use. Lightly flour the counter, place the other disk on the counter. Sprinkle lightly with flour and roll out evenly, placing the rolling pin in the center of the dough disk, rolling forward and back (taking care not to roll off the dough and thin the edges), rotating the dough 45 degrees and rolling again. Keep a little flour on the counter to one side. If the dough tends to stick when rotating, drag it through the flour. When the dough is nearing the desired thickness, place spacers or rulers on either side of the dough, rest the rolling pin on the two spacers or rulers, and roll it across the dough.
6. Spread the crumbs evenly over a counter area as large as the crust. Lightly flour the top of the crust, brushing off any excess. Fold the dough in half, then in half again. Unfold the dough on top of the crumbs and lightly roll over the top with the rolling pin twice to press a light crumb coating on the bottom side of the crust. Refold the dough as before, place in the pie pan, and unfold. Trim and shape edges as desired.
7. Bake blind (with pie crust weighted down) for 15 minutes in the center of a preheated 400-degree F. (204 degrees C.) oven. Remove parchment and weights. Cover the edges with foil if they are browning fast. Bake 5 more minutes. Glaze with your choice of glazes and bake 4 to 5 minutes to cook glaze.
Yield: 2 single or 1 double 9-inch crust
Note: If pastry flour or a low-protein flour like White Lily® is available, use 2-1/4 cups in place of the bleached all-purpose and the instant flour.
• Cream Crust: Substitute 1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream for the cream cheese.
• Sour Cream Crust: Substitute 8 ounces (1 carton) sour cream for the cream cheese.
• Cheese Crust: Stir 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg into the crust after Step 2.
• Nut Crust: Grind 1/2 cup roasted walnuts, pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts. Stir the nuts, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, and 2 Tablespoons sugar into the crust after Step 2.
• Lemon Crust: Stir 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and 1 Tablespoon sugar into the crust after Step 2.
• Orange Crust: Stir 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and 2 Tablespoons sugar into the crust after Step 2.
Recipe Source: Cookwise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking, The Secrets of Cooking Revealed by Shirley O. Corriher (Willam Morrow)
Reprinted with express written permission.
Tender Flaky Pie Crust Recipe Photo ©2020 Debby Hudson