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
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 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 1/3 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.