Vegan Flaky Pie Crust
Years before I got into cooking, I was into baking. Even as a kid, I really loved baking: I would bake cakes, cookies, pies, and make all kinds of puddings and other desserts. I had a major sweet tooth, and over the years I tried my hand at increasingly difficult recipes, such as choux pasty, bavarian cream, and the perfect flaky pastry. This was my biggest hobby up until two years ago, when I went vegan.
Going vegan had many positive effects on me, but one somewhat negative effect was that many of the baking recipes I knew and loved didn’t work anymore. After cutting out the butter, eggs and cream many of these recipes relied on, I lost my passion for baking for a while, and focused on cooking. But after a while, it started itching…
It took me a long time to veganize my favorite recipes, to make them taste close enough to the recipes I knew. Bit by bit, I discovered substitutes and workarounds, and at this point I’m confident enough to ask non-vegans what their favorite dessert is, knowing I can probably make a vegan version of it. There’s been a Black Forest cake, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, stacks of super fluffy pancakes, banoffee pie, and many cookies and granolas – vegans don’t have to miss out on any of it!
In baking, many Western European / American recipes rely on essentially the same base recipes, which often come from traditional French pastry. Replacing base recipes with vegan versions allows you to make all the variations vegan as well! Today’s recipe is a shortcrust pastry, or pâte brisée. It is very close to the original, as the only non-vegan ingredient used is butter. Use your favorite vegan butter, as the taste of the butter is quite important in the final result. I use vodka in this dough, because the alcohol makes for a crispier, flakier result. The alcohol evaporates during baking. If you prefer, you could also use ice water, or a combination of both.
The technique used here is blind baking, which is prebaking the pie shell without its filling, filled instead with baking powder and pie weights, to keep the bottom from rising or getting puffy. It can seem like a bit of a hassle at first, but I promise it’s worth it! If you don’t have pie weights, use dried beans or rice – just make sure not to eat them afterwards.
Vegan Flaky Pie Crust
- 180 g all-purpose flour
- 90 g vegan butter / margarine
- 3.5 g salt
- 5 g powdered sugar
- 4 tbsp vodka Many people use ice water instead, but I prefer cold vodka for flakier results. The alcohol evaporates during baking. Ice water will work too though!
- Put the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the vegan butter into small blocks and add to the flour mixture.
- Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour, creating small little flakes of butter covered in flour. Make sure no big lumps of butter are left.
- Add the vodka (or ice water), a tablespoon at a time, and try to bring the dough together so that you can form it into a ball. Use only the amount of liquid necessary to make it come together.
- Cover the dough in plastic and place in the fridge to cool. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
- Grease the pie tin with some butter or oil, or use baking paper. When the dough is chilled, roll it out into a circle large enough to cover our pie tin's bottom and sides. Line the tin with the dough, making sure to push it in well.
- Dock the pastry (prick holes in it with a fork) all over to ensure even cooking. Line the dough with baking paper and fill with pie weights. You could also use dried beans or rice if you don't have pie weights.
- Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove filling and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Your pie is now ready to be filled!