This Easy Tenderflake Pie Crust recipe is light and full of flavour. This recipe was given to me by my Grandmother and is as easy as pie and never fails to be amazing!
I am a pie crust snob. I can tell a good pie crust from a mile away. Pie crust needs to be the perfect balance between being firm enough to hold the gooey contents of a pie but also incredibly flaky. I need my fork to go into that pie and the pie crust crackle just a little bit and pieces of flaky pie crust fall to my plate-like pieces of Mica (see link for info on this strange flaky mineral).
Yes, I have a weird obsession with pie crust and have absurdly given this a lot of thought as you can probably tell.
Tenderflake crust made is easy to make so long as you follow one rule and that is to not overwork the dough. I have been known to yell sometimes at the TV when watching baking shows… “Stop Touching The Dough Already”. Clearly, I am passionate about this topic!
Making this never-fail pie crust recipe is all about the rule “Less is More”. The less you need to touch the dough the better.
Side note… shortbread is the same. Less is more! Here is the recipe for my Grandma’s Shortbread. Flaking and buttery just like shortbread should be.
Ingredients Needed For Tenderflake Pie Crust
- Lard – Fat that has been rendered from pork into a white semi-solid fat that is transfat free.
- Pastry flour – A lighter flour that has been ground finer than all-purpose flour and has a lower protein content. The lower protein content produces a lighter more tender pie crust.
- Salt – adds flavour to the crust.
- Egg – The adds moisture as well as structure to the pastry.
- Vinegar – Inhibits the gluten development in the flour which makes for a more tender and flaky pie crust.
- Cold water – Keep the ripples of fat in the pastry from melting permaturely during the mixing stage. The heat from your hands from hand mixing may cause the lard to melt and lose the pockets of fat needed for a flaky pastry. The water also adds moisture to help the ingredients form a dough.
Making pie crust with lard is much easier than people believe but I will say it again and again… know when to stop touching the dough!
Your end game is to try to make the dough as quickly as possible with as little mixing and kneading as possible. The more kneading and mixing you do the tougher the dough will become.
Don’t worry though this pie crust comes together so easily I have never ever had a problem getting this recipe just right every time.
How To This Make Never Fail tenderflake Pie Crust
Start by adding the flour and salt to a large bowl. Then cut brick of lard up into cubes or chunks and add to the bowl of flour.
Using your hands work the lard into the flour to create an oatmeal-like texture by rubbing the flour and lard together between your fingers and thumb. The goal is to have ripple or pearls of lard mixed throughout the flour.
You do not want the lard fully mixed into the flour because it is these ripples are small pebbles of lard that are supremely important to making the best flaky pie crust.
Set the bowl of flour and lard aside and add one large egg, the vinegar and cold water so a small bowl. Whisk to break up the egg and mix well.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in half of the egg liquid. Using a pastry knife blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the remaining liquid and mix until all of the liquid is absorbed and there is no dry flour remaining.
Don’t have a pastry cutter? The two knife trick is how my Grandma taught me. Just get two dinner knives and hold the handles together. They automatically will separate a little and form a similar instrument to a pastry cutter. Works like a charm!
Once you have mixed the wet into the dry use your hands to press the dough together to form a ball. Again with this step as well as mixing the wet and dry together, more is less! Make it a game to get the job done with as little interference or mixing as necessary.
The more time you mix, and the more time your hands have time to heat up the lard the tougher the dough will be.
This dairy-free pie crust makes enough for four pie shells. You could cut this recipe in half but this easy flaky pie crust recipe freezes so well it is worth making the whole recipe and keeping some for another day.
Once the dough is formed into a large ball use a knife or bench scrape to but the dough into 4 even pieces. Then roll each piece into a ball and cover tightly with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out or to store for later.
When you are ready to make this never fail pie crust into a pie or something else bring the dough to room temperature if it isn’t already. Lightly flour your surface as well as the rolling pin and then roll the dough out into an even circle to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
If you have a marble rolling pin you can always pre-chill in the fridge. This will help keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin as well.
The dough may be a little sticky so if it is I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it rest in the fridge. A half-hour will do before attempting to roll out.
When ready, roll out to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
Now the trick is getting the dairy-free pie crust made into the pie plate without tearing or breaking it! To do this you have two choices.
How to Transfer Pie Crust Into A Pie Plate Easily
You can roll the pie dough around the rolling pin and gently lift it to roll it over the pie plate.
Or you can fold the Tenderflake pie crust in half or thirds and gently lift the crust to the edge of the pie plate and carefully unfold it over the pie plate.
Make sure to roll the dough large than the pie plate by extra two-three inches in diameter. The dough still needs to be pressed into the pie plate against the bottom of the plate and edges. If the diameter of the pie crust is too small then the pie crust won’t come all the way up and over the edges to seal properly.
Also, pie crusts can shrink a little when baking so you want a little extra wiggle room.
Fill the pie crust up to the rim of the pie pan with the filling of your choice and maybe a little more in the centre if you like a lot of filling. Then roll another circle of pie crust and place carefully on top allowing some pastry to hang over the edges.
Using a sharp knife trim away any excess pie dough.
Then seal the pie crust so that the filling does not leak out while the pie bakes.
How To Seal a Pie
To seal the edges you can use a fork and gently press around the edge of the pie plate for a simple edge. Or use your two index fingers and press down and together to pinch the edges of the pie plate. This technique will give it a pretty fluted look.
When done, use the knife to cut small slits into the top of the dough. This will allow the steam from the filling to escape while baking.
It is really hard to explain this so here is a video on how to flute a pie you might find useful. If you are planning to flute the pie crust be sure to leave a large overhang of dough from the top pie crust.
Finish by adding an egg wash to the top of the pie crust and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
Bake at 400ºF for about 40-50 minutes or until the crust looks golden and flaky. I like to cover the pie when the top looks golden with some foil. Then bake for an extra 10 minutes just to make sure the bottom is fully cooked.
Tenting the top with foil prevents the top from over-browning or burning. This will allow more time for the bottom to cook. The bottom usually needs more time because it is often covered in wet ingredients. These wet ingredients cause the bottom to cook a bit more slowly.
how to make an egg wash
To make an egg wash add one egg to a small bowl and two tsp of milk or water. Whisk them together and then use a small basting brush to coat the top of the pie along with the edges.
The egg wash will give the pie its golden appearance. It also helps a sprinkle of extra sugar to stick to the top of the pie.
Tips for A never fail flaky pie crust
- Use lard instead of butter. Lard has a higher melting point and produces a flakier more tender crust…. and cookies in case you are interested! Check out these oatmeal cookies.
- Use pastry flour. It has a lower protein content and finer texture making for more tender crust.
- Don’t forget the vinegar. It helps reduce the formation of gluten and also helps create a more tender crust.
- Do not overwork the dough. The goal is to get the lard mixed only enough so that there are still small pieces of lard throughout. The mixture will look like lumpy oatmeal. Then mix it with the wet ingredients pressing it into a ball as quickly as possible. Pretend it is a game to accomplish this with as little mixing or contact as possible.
- Cut slits into the top of the pie to allow for the steam to escape. This will not only allow for the pie crust to bake better but it will also stop the insides from bursting out the seams.
Can You Freeze Unbaked Pie Crust
Absolutely! This recipe makes enough pie dough for two pies (top and bottom). I recommend splitting the pie dough into half or quarters.
Roll each piece into a ball and freeze what you don’t need. To freeze, wrap the pie pastry tightly with two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw by placing the frozen dough in the fridge the night before. Bring the dough to room temperature the day you plan to use it. This will make it easier to roll out.
Unused homemade pie crust can also be stored in the fridge tightly wrapped for up to 3 days.
What is the difference Between Lard and Shortening?
The biggest difference is what they are made from. Both will bake up a flaky pie crust. Lard is an animal fat rendered from pork whereas shortening is hydrogenated vegetable oil.
I prefer to use lard any day over shortening for two reasons:
- Lard is better for you. Not innocent but has zero transfats unlike shortening.
- There is more flavour in lard than shortening producing a richer flavourful pie crust.
If you do prefer shortening it is a 1:1 substitute for lard.
Can butter be used instead of lard?
Yes, you can but beware. Working with butter to make a pie crust can be a little more difficult. Lard and shortening tend to be a little more forgiving than butter and it is much easier to overwork a butter-based pie crust which may mean the crust ends up tougher and less flaky.
If you prefer the flavour of butter in your pie crust try a combination of lard and butter. Half and half work best.
There are lots of opinions on this but I prefer my crust made with Tenderflake lard because it never fails me and always produces a tender flaky pie crust. My grandma never used anything else!
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Easy Tenderflake Pie Crust
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large Bowl
- Two Knives or a Pastry Cutter
- Rolling Pin
- Pie Tin
- 1 lb Tenderflake Lard room temperature
- 6 cups pastry flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- In a large bowl add 6 cups of pastry flour and 1 lb of Tenderflake lard cut up into cubes. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of salt
- Using your hands, a pastry cutter or two knives held together cut the lard into the flour until the mixture begins to resemble a lumpy oatmeal texture. Stop cutting when the flour mixture starts to show pearl size lumps of shortening or slightly larger throughout. You do not want to blend shortening into flour mixture completely. These small pieces of fat are what create the flaky crust you are aiming for.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup add 1 cup of cold water, 1 egg and 1 tbsp of white vinegar. Whisk thoroughly.
- Gradually pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork until the flour mixture forms a dough. Mix as little as possible and when there is only a little bit of flour mixture left work to press it into the dough working to form a ball.
- You will have enough pie dough for two pies top and bottom or 8 mini pies. Cut dough in half for one pie and form two separate balls of dough. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before attempting to roll.
- To roll the dough lightly flour the surface and/or line the rolling surface with parchment paper. Dust the top of the dough with a tiny bit more flour and lightly flour your rolling pin. Just a dusting because you don't want to add much flour to the dough itself.
- Roll the dough out to about a 1/4 inch thickness. To move the rolled dough to the pie tin gently roll the dough around the rolling pin to lift and then roll out gently over the pie tin. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the pie tin ensuring that the bottom is tight along the bottom and all sides. Allow for some dough to hang over the edge of the pie plate. Then using a knife trim the edge to the edge of the pie plate.
- Fill the pie tin with the desired filling up to the rim of the pie plate and maybe a little more like a hill in the centre.
- Repeat the rolling process adding a second layer of pie pastry to the top. Trim edges leaving a little extra along the edge to properly seal or flute.
- Seal edges of pie crust with a fork by pressing around all the edges or a pie plate or use both index fingers to pinch the dough while gently pressing down to seal the pie crust with a fluted edge. Cut slits in the top of the pie crust to allow steam to escape while baking.
- In a small bowl add one egg and two tsp of milk and mix. Use a small basting brush to coat the top of the pie and edges and sprinkle with a little sugar. This step is optional but helps to give the crust a golden colour.
- Bake at 400F for 40-50 minutes or until pie crust is lightly browned and the crust looks flaky. If the pie needs more time but is starting to brown too quickly simply drape the top of the pie with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent further browning.
- When done remove the pie from oven and let rest for 30 minutes so you don't burn your mouth. The inside of the pie especially a sugary pie will be very hot.
For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make Easy Tenderflake Pie Crust Story.