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Patty M Asks:

November 18, 2013
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QIs pastry or cake flour more suitable for a tender, all-butter pie crust? I prefer to use all butter rather than shortening or lard. Thank you!

- Patty M


With an all-butter crust, you are well on your way to a delicious pie. Our Butter Pie Crust recipe calls for all-purpose flour, since it’s probably what you already have at home. This flour is fairly high in protein (gluten). But pie crust doesn’t require a lot of gluten to keep it together, so be careful not to mix it too much and handle it carefully or it may turn out tough — and no one wants a tough crust.

Pastry flour is lower in gluten, but a pie crust made with pastry flour can be fragile and more difficult to roll out. Worst of all, it could crumble when you transfer it to the pan. With our Butter Pie Crust recipe, you could try substituting equal parts all-purpose flour and unbleached pastry flour. That way, you’ll get the benefits of each kind of flour and be on your way to a delectable pie.

The Test Kitchen has put together several more tips you can use to make your pie crust flaky and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Adding an egg yolk adds fat as well as natural lecithin, which makes the dough pliable and easier to handle. You can also add some acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, which lessens the elasticity of the gluten and makes the crust more tender.

This year, spice up your holidays by adding a new pie or two to your repertoire. Cranberry Pecan Pie adds the unexpected zing of cranberries to the sweet taste of a traditional pecan pie. Caramel Apple Pie also starts like a traditional apple pie, but caramel adds another layer of sweetness. You can always count on meringue to please: Fresh lemon or lime juice makes Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie that much more delicious.

For a pie that looks just as good as it tastes, add a little extra love to the edge of the pie crust. You’ll be serving up a treat for everyone’s eyes as well as their taste buds.

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