I started making pie when I was eight years old. Mind you, it probably wasn’t very good, but my wonderful mother always praised me so highly that I thought I had mastered this difficult pastry already. A child prodigy! I thought. Well, I’m still working on the perfect pie crust, but I think this one is pretty darn close. It’s tender and flaky, never soggy on the bottom, but not brittle either. It turns out well consistently, and doesn’t fall apart when you roll it out. (I hate recipes that crumble under the rolling pin.)
Perhaps best of all, it uses coconut oil, which I think is probably the best possible fat to use in a recipe like this, striking the health/taste balance well. I think I’ve tried every possible fat in pie crust before finally arriving at this one. The eight-year-old me preferred Criso, for its mild flavor and stability. Shortening does have some advantages: it won’t melt if your kitchen is too hot or turn cold and hard (making it impossible to roll) if the weather is cool. The major downside, of course, is that it’s a big blob of hydrogenated oil and is horrible for you. Butter, on the other hand, gives the crust a flavor that I find out of place in pie crust and often results in a soggy bottom. It’s also more difficult to work with because it softens quickly. Vegetable oil pie crusts aren’t worth mentioning (they taste horrible, in my opinion), and lard, although it has all the advantages of Crisco, has many of the same disadvantages health-wise. Coconut oil turns out to be the perfect alternative. It’s a healthier fat, although by no means low in calories, but hey, it’s pie crust. It’s more stable than butter as far as melting and hardening goes. It still results in a flaky crust and it has a mild flavor. Perfection!
I found this recipe online sometime ago, although I believe the original used half butter and half coconut oil. I think it would take a lot to persuade me to try any more pie crust recipes after making this one. I think I’ve finally found “the one.”
Special Diets and Allergies: Vegan, dairy-free, nut-free.
Speed it Up: There’s not much you can do to speed up this recipe, but you can save yourself time in the future: When I make this, I always use it for an open-face pie, so I roll out two rounds of dough, place them in two pans, and bake just the one I need for the recipe I’m preparing. The other I double-wrap in plastic and freeze. When I want another pie, I take it out, let it thaw completely on the counter, and follow the baking directions exactly as I would if I had just made it.
Never Fail (Dairy-Free) Pie Crust
Makes two 8″ pies
This crust is dependable and delicious. It will flake beneath your fork yet keep a tenderly crisp bottom— not too hard and not too soft. Although the coconut oil should work well straight out of the fridge or a cold cupboard, you may have to let it sit on the counter for ten minutes or so if it is too cold to be workable. Conversely, if the kitchen is warm and the dough is overly sticky, you may have to place it in the fridge for ten minutes to let it firm up a bit before attempting to roll it out. It is possible to make this stretch to cover two 9″ pans, but I like the extra wiggle room that using 8″ pans gives me. That way, I’m sure to have enough for a nice crimped edge and likely even some to make mini cinnamon-pie rolls. To make these, take the leftover scraps, roll out, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and roll up tightly. Then slice in 1/2″ rounds, place on a little cookie sheet or a double-thick piece of aluminum foil and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, while the pie is in the oven.
This crust also works well for savory tarts and quiches. If you are cooking this crust with a filling already inside it, follow the recipe directions for the pie or tart. If you are baking it empty and then filling it, follow the directions below. You will need to weigh down the crust somehow to keep it from poofing up, thus becoming unfillable. If you, like me, do not have pie weights, I suggest using popcorn kernels to weigh down the crust because they seem to still pop fine even after being baked. Dried beans, on the other hand, do not cook well in, my experience, after being used as pie weights.
3/4 C coconut oil
2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 t salt
5-6 T ice cold water
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Combine the flour and salt.
- Cut in the coconut oil until it is mixed through the flour in pea-size pieces.
- Stir in the water, mixing just until combined. Separate the dough into two equal portions and pat each into a flat, round disc.
- On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out one of the discs until about half the size of your pie pan. Using a spatula, carefully separate the dough from the counter, working around in a circle to make sure none of the dough is sticking to the surface below. Flip the dough. Continue to roll out until it is large enough to fill the pie pan with about 1″ overlap on all sides.
- Again use the spatula to carefully separate the dough from the countertop. Then lift the crust off the counter and place in the pan. Press it down against the bottom and sides and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork about 5 or 6 times.
- Place a piece of tin foil inside the pan, large enough to cover all of the dough. Fold in the foil so that the pie’s crimped edges are exposed. Fill with dried popcorn kernels or pie weights.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil.
- Bake another 5 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool, then fill with something delicious.
(Look for a recipe soon featuring the perfect filling…chocolate, anyone?)