Seriously flaky crust requires a low protein flour and a good mix of fat and flour.
The best way to accomplish this is to dilute General Purpose Flour with Corn Starch to reduce the overall protein from 11 – 12 % down to about 10 %.
You also need to mix the flour and fat correctly. The goal is to create small balls of fat and flour mixed, covered with a layer of dry flour.
The easy way to do this is in the food processor. You first mix in part of the flour and all of the fat until it combines into one homoginous mixture then you pulse in dry flour to seaparate the mix.
It isn’t as hard as it sounds and FYI – I don’t sift, ever. Aint nobody got time for that.
Butter adds flavor and browns well but it has a low melting point. I like a 50/50 mix of lard and butter for the fat portion.
Adding vodka lets you make a wet flour that is easy to roll out but does not wind up tough because alcohol does not promote gluten development.
You also need to use a scale to measure the ingredients because flour and sugar can pack together differently to result in different measurements per cup.
The following recipe should make 1 double crust pie or 8 wide-mouth mason jar lid pies.
I recommend you paint the top of the pie with an egg wash (1 egg mixed). This creates a dark brown crust and helps retain moisture in the top of the pie crust.
- 300 grams by weight of General Purpose Flour
- 40 grams by weight of corn starch.
- 4 tablespoons (1.76 ounces by weight) sugar (if this is a fruit pie)
- 1 teaspoon (0.17 ounces by weight) kosher salt
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
- 8 Tablespoons lard, cut into chunks similar to the butter pats
- 3 Tablespoons (1.5 oz.) ice cold water
- 3 Tablespoons (1.5 oz.) vodka (Vodka helps moisten the mixture but will not cause additional gluten development. This results in a flakier crust).
- Optional – 1 tsp vanilla extract (for a sweet pie)
- Cut the butter and lard and place them on wax paper in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Mix the vodka and water together in a small container.
- Combine two thirds of dry mixture along with all the fat in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps.
- Add the remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. The flour will look like little BBs.
- Transfer dough to a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with the water and vodka mixture with one hand and stir the flour mixture with the other.
- Press the dough together until it forms a solid ball.
- Divide ball in half and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap.
- Smash the wrapped dough half into a 4-inch disks and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Let the dough warm slightly before rolling and baking.
- For double crust pies, make a few slits with a knife hear the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape and paint the surface with an egg wash (1 egg blended).
- Baking temperature should be around 425 unless your specific recipe says otherwise.