Though we’ve had a few detours along the way, we remain committed to our resolution to use more whole grains in our baking, and pie dough was next on the list to change. I’ve tried a number of whole wheat pie dough recipes, and this is one of my favorites. The good folks at King Arthur Flour published Whole Grain Baking in 2006 and for their efforts they received a James Beard Foundation award nomination. I bought the book this year as we embarked on our quest to finally change to whole grain baking and it has been an invaluable reference.
As they tested pies and doughs, the authors decided that different pies call for different pie crusts, and they experimented with traditional whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, barley flour, and oats. Some of the doughs have a mixture of whole grains and a few have a small amount of white flour. This whole wheat pie dough has no white flour and no other grains; the whole wheat flour stands on its own.
The texture is quite different from the standard all-purpose flour pie dough, not light and flaky, a little hearty but not chewy. The baking powder offers a little lift to the crust and keeps it from being too heavy. The flavor is bold and unmistakably whole wheat, though the addition of orange juice and buttermilk powder softens the edgy flavor somewhat.
I use a food processor for preparing pie dough as demonstrated by Alton Brown on Good Eats, though you can also mix this by hand or with a mixer. The resting time is important for the flour to properly absorb the liquids, which will soften the bran and produce a smoother crust. When ready to use the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to rest for about 15 to 30 minutes. It will warm up and become more flexible, making it easier to roll.
Note the recipe makes just one single pie crust, but you can easily double it.
[Updated November 13, 2009.]
Whole Wheat Pie Dough
- food processor (or mixing bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment)
- pastry blender (optional)
- plastic wrap
- 1 cup traditional or white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk powder (optional, but good)
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cold orange juice
- 1 to 2 ounces ice water
- In the bowl of the food processor, add the flour, buttermilk powder, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse several times until the dry ingredients are thoroughly distributed.
- Cut the cold butter into small cubes (about ⅓ the width of a stick of butter) and add it to the dry ingredients. Pulse about 10 to 15 times, until the mixture is crumbly with uneven bits of butter.
- Sprinkle the orange juice over the dough and pulse a few more times. Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the dough clings together. If a piece of the dough holds together in your hand and doesn’t feel dry or crumbly, it’s ready.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out. Shape the dough into a round disk about 1 inch/2.5 cm thick and roll it on its edge in the flour to smooth the edges out.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight before using. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
I like the addition of cold orange juice to this crust.
This is just what I needed! I'm baking an apple pie for a friend and I desperately wanted a whole wheat spin!
We are trying too to move towards a wholesome whole wheat life 😉 so, as soon I saw your tweet, I decided to come here 🙂 Thanks a ton for this, Andrea.
So glad you posted this. Can't wait to try it. DO you think if you omit the buttermilk powder you should increase the flour?
Hi Judy. The original recipe doesn't say to increase the flour if you omit the buttermilk powder, and I would agree.
What a great ambition, Andrea! Question for you: would you use this crust for quiche and savory pies but forgo for fruit and dessert pies? I'm having trouble imagining this wrapped around lemon meringue, for example ...
Hi Alanna. Your question echoes the thoughts of the authors. They suggest apple, pecan, and blueberry pies for this crust, as well as beef and portobello mushroom turnovers. I'm experimenting with apple dumplings using this whole wheat dough this weekend. Other pies and their quiches use whole wheat pastry flour, barley flour, and ground oats instead of traditional whole wheat flour.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
What about substituting white whole wheat flour in this recipe? I'm quite addicted to it, and I find that it's a great way to "sneak" whole wheat flour into my baking.
Hi Lydia. Yes, you can use white whole wheat flour. The book basically says you can use them interchangeably, though the recipe specifies "traditional," which is what I typically keep on hand.
I'm very much looking forward to trying this recipe. I just saved it to delicious and printed it out too! I like the idea of the powdered sugar and orange juice added to it for some nice flavor and to cut the bitterness of the wheat. Thank you for this! : )
thanks for this recipe. i am shifting to whole grain products in my house as well as NO refined sugar, so i substituted sucanat for the powdered sugar and omitted the buttermilk powder, as i didnt have it on hand. the recipe was delicious - i used frozen peaches and various berries in a 9x13 pan, dotted it with butter and sprinkled some sucanat overtop of the fruit, then just laid this whole wheat crust on top and it was a delicious and nutritious snack. thank you.
1?: can non-diary creamer powder replace buttermilk powder? 2?: try to reduce sugar intake, so what esle can use instead of confestioner's sugar and orange juice?
Hi Fil. Nondairy creamer has a number of ingredients added which could negatively affect the flavor of the crust, so I would not recommend it. You can simply omit the buttermilk powder and use buttermilk in place of the orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of Stevia in place of the sugar.
Michael M. Moore says
Just found this and find it very interesting. Just curious how substituting yogurt instead of the orange juice would work. I am looking at doing some mini meat pies or some kind of stew in them.
I just wanted to vouch that this is a great crust! If anyone has the cookbook (King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking), this crust pairs so well with their Classic Apple Pie or their Caramel-Apple Pie, both of which are extremely delicious. Something about the oats and apples makes the whole wheat crust delish. I didn't find this as tender as a white-flour crust, so I won't be substituting it everywhere, but there's definitely a place for it 🙂