The battle between butter and shortening-based pie crusts has been raging for years. In one corner, you have the butter disciples who swear that nothing can match the flavour and baked golden hues of an all-butter pie crust. In the other corner, there are the shortening fanatics who promise that once you’ve witnessed a pie crust made with Crisco shatter beneath the gentle pressure of a fork, you won’t mind giving up a little flavour and colour because, c’mon, you’ve got flaky going on right there!
Like any good referee, I’m going to stay out of the line of fire on this one … mainly because I don’t want to get punched but also because I believe you should make the pie that you love to eat … not the one that someone tells you is “better”. What I am going to offer you is this ‘main event’ pie crust recipe, one that delivers the punch of buttery, rich flavour with some serious knockout flakiness.
Alright, enough with the boxing analogies. The secret to this recipe is making sure that your butter and shortening are cold, cold, cold before you begin. I like to keep my shortening in the freezer so it’s ready to go when I need it. Refrigerator temperature butter will do just fine. Just make sure you get ’em and keep ’em COLD until you’re ready to go.
This recipe is perfect for blind baking shells (the higher melting point of vegetable shortening will help keep your fluted edges crisp) and for all fruit pies. It rolls out beautifully but is a bit more fragile than all-butter pastry so you will need to use a light touch when using it for latticing or complex decorations. But that is a minor quibble. What I love is that you can knock out this pastry, start to finish, in 10 minutes flat with a food processor. You can’t beat that!
Butter and Shortening Pie Pastry
A must-have flaky and flavourful pastry that’s perfect for double crust pies and pie shells.
- 6 ounces unsalted butter very cold
- 2 ounces vegetable shortening very cold
- 13 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt fine
- 5 tbsp ice water
Dice the cold butter and shortening into 1-inch cubes and return to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the flour mixture. Fill a small bowl with iced water and set aside.
Place the flour, sugar and salt into the food processor bowl, fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 2-3 times to combine and distribute the ingredients.
Remove the well-chilled butter and vegetable shortening cubes from the refrigerator and add them to the food processor bowl. Pulse 6-8 times to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture. Check that your butter and shortening pieces are the size of lima beans before proceeding. If necessary, pulse a few more times.
Using quick pulses, add five tablespoons of ice water to the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Once all five tablespoons of water have been added, pulse until the pastry just begins to clump together.
Turn the pastry dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to gently bring the pastry together into a ball. Use a knife to divide the ball into two, and press gently with the palm of your hand to flatten both pieces into discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
- Store your vegetable shortening in the freezer to keep it cold