With the holidays approaching, many cooks are gearing up for holiday feasts. Often on the menu is a dessert that makes use of a pie shell. Although it seems very convenient to buy a pre-made pie crust that you can simply pile fillings on, these pre-made crusts often contain extra mystery ingredients you would not find in a homemade recipe, such as modified milk ingredients, tricalcium phosphate, and soybean lecithin. Homemade pie crusts won’t save you any fat or calories over the frozen version, but you’ll know exactly what has gone into your pie shell, and you’ll end up with a tastier, flakier pie crust.
Generic Store-Brand Frozen Pie Crust
Homemade Healthy Pie Crust
Here is a comparison between a store-bought frozen pie crust and a homemade version:
(9 1/4″ pie)
|1/8 pie shell||1/8 pie shell|
|100 kcal||151 kcal|
|2 g||1.5 g|
|6 g||11.6 g|
|2.5 g||7.3 g|
|0 g||0 g|
|9 g||10.4 g|
|1 g||0.4 g|
|65 mg||82 mg|
|4% DV||4% DV|
|27 minutes (15 minutes to pre-heat oven and 12 minutes baking)||1.5 hours (including resting pie dough in fridge and baking)|
Price per serving:
|Enriched wheat flour, water, lard, modified milk ingredients, dextrose, salt, tricalcium phosphate, soybean lecithin||All-purpose flour, butter, cold water|
How Did the Two Stack Up?
The homemade recipe yielded a much thicker and flakier pie crust, and our pie plate was slightly bigger than the frozen pie shell. This resulted in the higher fat and consequently calorie count for the homemade version. The frozen pie shell was flimsy, and was a torn-up, soggy mess when we tried to cut out a portion of the finished pie. The homemade shell stayed dry and flaky despite the juicy fruit filling, and we easily removed an intact slice complete with the filling. Our version also cost less per serving than the pre-made pie shell.
The Bottom Line
Whether store-bought or homemade, pie crust is a higher-fat product to be enjoyed only on special occasions. Our goal in making it from scratch is to show you that it is a fairly simple thing to do with a bit of pre-planning. Plus, by skipping the frozen pre-made product, you will cut out food additives from your featured pie for the holidays! In the pre-made pie crust for example, the additive “modified milk ingredients” could be an unpleasant and unexpected surprise for guests with milk allergy.
Our Pie Crust Recipe:
The homemade pie crust recipe is courtesy of Pim Techamuanvivit‘s new book The Foodie Handbook. The recipe yields two 10-inch pie shells, so we had a little bit of leftover dough due to our smaller pie plate. We used a basic homemade fruit filling (made with fresh strawberries, sugar, cinnamon, and flour) for the purposes of the photo but, since it was the same for both pies, did not include the nutritional value of this in our analysis.
For the pie crust
Makes two 10-inch pie crusts
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1/4 cold water
- Measure flour onto a clean work surface. Cut butter into large chunks and place them in one layer over the flour. Begin to blend the flour and butter together by pressing down on the pile with the heel of your hand. Using a pastry scraper held in your hand, pick up some of the dough and flip it over the pile. Continue pressing and scraping up the dough until the butter resembles very thick flakes pressed into the flour.
- Mix the dough with your fingertips until the flakes break up slightly, and the dough is a combination of big flakes and some crumbs.
- Pour cold water in a thin stream into the dough, using your fingers to gently blend and distribute it evenly into the dough. Then start picking up the dough and pressing it on and over itself. Knead until you have a cohesive lump of dough. Gather it into a ball, press it down into a dish, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it on a floured work surface. Stretch it out into a long rectangular shape, about one inch think. Fold the dough in thirds toward the middle. Turn it 90 degrees and roll it out again to a rectangular shape, and fold again in thirds. Repeat this process a couple more times. Divide dough in half and press each into a round disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour before use. Otherwise, freeze for up to one month.
Sofia believes in bringing back fun and pleasure into everyday eating. She loves cooking, and is constantly experimenting with ingredients, creating recipes and trying them out on family and friends. Her latest interest lies in finding realistic and practical ways of environmentally-friendly food/eating habits.