Crispy Coconut Oil Crust

Pie crust has always been a big deal to me.¬† My dear sweet Grandma Rolf was a pie making goddess from crust to crumbs. A visit to her house was never complete without some sort of pie, though most commonly it was a sweet spicy-scented apple pie that came out of her oven. As a child I didn’t realize what a perfect slice of Americana I was as I sat at the table digging into my warm apple pie and melty vanilla ice cream. I only knew it was good.

She set the bar high. When my friends would scrape out the filling and leave the crust behind, I was confused. The crust was my favorite part! It wasn’t until I tasted a commercially prepared crust that I understood and empathized with their behavior. When I became my own cook there was never even the option of a store bought crust. To do such a thing felt on the order of building a cold, tough, mealy¬†sidewalk over her grave.

While I hear tell that my grandma used lard and butter for most of her pie baking days, near the end she had switched to an oil based crust because it was “healthier.” While this is probably the crust I grew up on so I can attest to its goodness, ironically I’m too uncomfortable with the unhealthy aspects of low quality vegetable oil to make it. So I had to start from scratch finding my own recipe.

That recipe I’ve never quite perfected. Working with butter and lard can be finicky. They need to be really cold (best if frozen) and stay that way (multiple stints in the freezer between steps). All this requires much forethought, planning, and big chunks of time. I have none of those things at this point in my Life With the Little. But I still wanted to make things with crusts… pies, quiches, tarts both sweet and savory. I still refused to buy crusts as even early motherhood doesn’t justify such brutishness to my heritage. (A little melodramatic you ask? Of course. But it’s times like these where a girl’s gotta hold on to some culinary ethics. After all, not everything can be all cheese toast and boiled eggs.)

Just a few days ago, I found myself craving quiche. (I’ve had more postpartum cravings than I did pregnancy cravings. Weird, right?) But my energy to make anything, let alone a good pie crust, lay sprawled on the floor next to my cat. I could not rouse it. For the first time I allowed my thoughts to roam to the oil crust. Would it really be so bad? Just this once? I never got far enough to answer that question because on its heels came another one. What if I just used a better oil? And then: Why have I never thought of this before?

Coconut oil makes a very nice crispy crust. If you are sensitive to coconut flavor, you might be able to taste the coconut. If this is a problem for you, you could just use this recipe for dishes that would benefit from a little coconut essence.

Crispy Coconut Oil Crust (makes 2 crusts)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 generous pinch of salt
2-4 Tbs water

Mix all ingredients together, using the smaller amount of water. If the dough is dry, add the extra water just until it comes together. Divide the dough in half. Sandwich the first half between two layers of plastic wrap (or be thrifty like my mom and save the inner cereal bags or plastic bread bags- slit them down the seam to make them big enough to use). Roll out the dough, rotating by quarter turns, into a circle big enough to fit your pie plate. It should be at least an inch bigger than the plate all around. Remove the top plastic layer. Lay you pie plate on top of the dough. Using two hands, flip the plate/ dough/ plastic sandwich over so the plate in on the bottom. Press the dough into the curve of your plate. Remove the plastic. Using a knife held vertically, trim off any excess that hangs over the side. Use this to patch any holes. Continue by following your chosen filling recipe.

If you don’t wish to make two pies, you can freeze the second lump wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in a freezer bag for about a month. Or, roll it out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar, and bake along with the pie until the edges are crisp and the middle is done. Let it cool slightly. You will want to crumble it all into your mouth right away, but as a better chef than me says– your patience will be rewarded. It’s your call if you ever tell the rest of your family about this or not.

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Posted in Uncategorized 12 years, 9 months ago at 8:23 pm.


4 Replies

  1. Wonderful idea. I will try it next time I make a pie.

  2. Aunt K Jul 14th 2011

    Now you’ve made me cry. Seriously.

  3. Aunt K Jul 14th 2011

    If it weren’t so late I’d bake right now – great idea the coconut oil

  4. Aunt B Jul 15th 2011

    You can also use extra light olive oil. It isn’t heavy and doesn’t leave a flavor like evoo does. I’ll give the coconut oil a try soon.

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