There’s something magical about pot pie to me. I’m next to useless when it comes to fending off a second piece; it is just that magical.
I’m also a big fan of making your own pie crust for it. It doesn’t take all that long, isn’t overly complicated and is something that you can easily make batches of (and freezes well). We typically use it for leftovers but there’s a lot to be said for making pot pie from scratch as well.
This crust has a twist – it contains a lot of pecans. The nuts add a real savory note as well as considerable crunch and body to the flaky crust while not hijacking the flavor. This crust holds its own against any savory filling and is a wonderful variation on a flour-only recipe.
If there’s a downside to this recipe, it’s that it’s not precise. The nuts don’t absorb liquid like flour does so you add a bit of flour at a time to get the dough to the right spot. If you’ve never done this before, don’t be intimidated – it’s easy and we’ll describe it below.
I’m a fan of using a food processor with plastic dough hook to bring the dough together – the heat of your hands will melt the butter; although you can do this by hand as well. The key with flaky pie crust is mixing the ingredients together as little as possible while ensuring everything is mixed together (i.e. don’t over-process).
- 0.75 cups purpose flour plus more.
- 0.5 cups of ground pecans (we used a coffee grinder)
- 0.5 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 140 grams of very cold unsalted butter cut into chunks (or for the ULTIMATE trick, do this)
- 1 Egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons of ice water
- Combine the dry ingredients and pulse for a few seconds until everything is combined. This is one only step you don’t have to worry about over-processing.
- Add the butter (all at once) and pulse until the mixture is consistent. This will take 8-15 seconds in your food processor; pulse a bit at a time so you can see what’s happening.
- Add the egg yolk and maple syrup and pulse a few times to distribute. This can take several seconds.
- the mixture should resemble dough – something you could form into a ball. It likely does not at this point – it probably looks ‘loose’ – meaning that its moist and sticky. Add small increments of flour (2-3 teaspoons at a time) until you have a drier dough that can be easily manipulated into a ball that will retain it’s shape. If you’ve never made dough before be reassured that, with time, you’ll know how much flour to add by instinct and will likely only have to add flour once (as opposed to these small increments) which minimizes processing. If the dough isn’t coming together, it may be too dry and you can add a tiny bit of water to help it along.
- Dump your dough into a large bowl and add the ice water (this helps protect it from the heat of your hands). Work the dough into a ball using the least amount of contact with your hands possible (but don’t take this too much to heart – it’s dough we’re talking about and not a delicate operating procedure).
- Wrap your dough tightly in plastic and chill; 30 minutes or longer in your fridge; you can leave it in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you’re in a rush. But you’re making dough, so what’s the rush?
- Cut the dough into two uneven halves (if making a top) and roll out on a surface covered in flour. One should be about 60% of the total ingredients (this is for the bottom and sides of your pie which take more dough and the other is for the top).
- Re-wrap the top portion and place in fridge.
- Roll out the bottom so that it’s 1.5-2 inches larger than your pie plate.
- Transfer to a lightly buttered pie plate by loosely rolling the dough around your pin (imagine that you’re doing the opposite of unrolling wrapping paper here – the end result is a rolling-pin which has been wrapped in dough) and then unwrapping into your pie plate. This dough can be pretty fragile (the nut’s don’t bind together like pure flour does). I’ll admit to piecing small holes together after transferring the dough to the pan – then again I’m not very delicate.
You now have two options before filling the pie:
- Chill the base for 30-60 minutes in the fridge (if you choose this option, your filling should be added chilled or at room temperature).
- Blind bake the crust (preheat your oven to 325):
- To prevent the pie from buckling when it is filled with ingredients, pre-bake the crust. You need to weigh it down at the same time. I do this by lining the flour-lined dough with parchment paper and fill with 2 cups of dried beans (I use the same ones every time and will never eat them as they are super-dry from all the oven baking).
- Cook with the weight on for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment paper (sometimes a bit of the top layer of dough attached to the parchment paper – I remove the beans with a spoon before carefully peeling it back).
- Cook for another 15 minutes until the dough is slightly browned.
A final note re browning your pie – a quick wash of egg or butter towards the end of the cooking process will bring the surface of your pie to a golden hue. Simply apply either with 5-7 minutes left in the cooking process.
What’s your secret for the ‘best’ pie crust for savory pies?