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Whole Grain Butter Crust

I adapted this recipe from a combination of sources, mostly from a pie-making class I took many years ago. The butter gives the crust flavor, the coconut oil or lard adds texture, flakiness.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
¼ + cup ice water (OR 3 tablespoons ice cold vodka and 3+ tablespoons ice water)*

1. Put flours and salt in a food processor and pulse 20 seconds.  Add chunks of butter and coconut oil and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running until dough forms a ball and holds together.  Remove dough from processor and form into a rough ball, and then transfer to a lightly floured surface.

2. If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry cutter or two table knives, cut butter and coconut oil into chilled flour until it resembles coarse meal with pea-size pieces of fat.  Sprinkle in water, stirring dough with a fork until it begins to hold together.

3. Give dough several quick kneads until it becomes smooth.  Divide in half, shape into 2 balls, flatten each ball slightly to make a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours before using.

4. Roll out half of your pie crust dough on a floured surface.  Fold in half and in half again.  Gently place in pie pan, unfold, and press in.

5. Place filling in layers in bottom pie shell.  Cover pie with upper crust, crimp the edge of the two crusts together and trim.  Prick the top of the pie so that steam can release.  Bake until edges of crust are golden, about 45-50 minutes.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Makes two 9” pie crusts and an 8-slice pie

*Learned a new trick from one of our viewers (thanks Nancy G.!) via Cook’s Illustrated. Vodka, which is 60% water and 40% alcohol, adds moisture without perpetuating gluten formation since gluten doesn’t form in ethanol.  The alcohol vaporizes during baking.  Because of this the dough may seem a little moister than usual when you roll it out.


Erin Hare
Whole grain crust? ROCK. ON. Thank you, and I'll be trying this for the big feast!
November 5, 2009, 10:35 am

Chrissy Gardiner
This looks similar to your apple pie crust from Feeding the Whole Family, which is my go-to pie crust. Love it! I will be using this for my Thanksgiving pumpkin and chocolate cream pies. Now if I could just convince the 6-year-old that she likes that subtle hint of coconut...
November 5, 2009, 11:03 am

Love the team work between you two and the 'manly sounds' you made as you unrolled the pie crust !! Your videos are my laugh for the day !!! Oh, and the recipes are top-notch !
November 5, 2009, 12:19 pm

Kate Schenk
my favorite filling? rhubarb custard!
November 7, 2009, 12:14 pm

Gilly Webber
Wholegrain butter crust? Do you have a vegan version as delicious? Regards gilly webber, Sussex, England
November 8, 2009, 3:21 am

Cynthia Lair
Gilly, you can use all coconut oil. It will give the crust a slightly coconut flavor. I do not recommend using refined polyunsaturated oils (ie canola, safflower). Flour + oil gives a cracker like texture to crusts.
November 8, 2009, 7:54 am

Erica LePore
I am so thrilled to have a pie crust recipe that is delicious and healthful. I've always used canola oil in my crusts and recently started to feel dismay at that cracker like crust you describe. This recipe also came at the perfect time since I'm not as freaked out about butter fat as I used to be. I was ready and open for a change. I made two pumpkin pies for my daughter's birthday party and they were a hit. Thank you so much.
November 9, 2009, 5:24 pm

Susan Pearson
Does the coconut oil need to be hard or liquid? Mine tends to harden over time, but I make it liquid again by running hot water over the bottle.
November 11, 2009, 1:28 pm

Cynthia Lair
Susan, Coconut oil should be soft at room temperature, like butter. It hardens when it is refrigerated and becomes liquid at temperatures over 76 degrees. The best way to use it for this crust is at room temperature - soft but not liquid.
November 11, 2009, 5:45 pm

Carla Tucker
I'm in Arizona, and room temp coconut oil is liquid. :) Is the texture important for the flakiness? I am assuming it would be more crackerlike if used in liquid form. Maybe I should refrigerate for awhile?
November 24, 2009, 9:08 pm

Cynthia Lair
Carla, Yes refrigerate the coconut oil until it is semi-solid but not hard. Coconut oil becomes liquid at 76 degrees. The fat needs to be solid enough to cut into the flour. An alternative would be to use lard.
November 25, 2009, 8:41 am

Janine Prichard
So, I only have salted butter. Any downside of using it if I reduce the salt? Also, 4 T is 1/4 c. correct? and 8 T is 1/2 c. Is there a reason for referring to T instead of cups? Looking forward to a GREAT pie!
November 26, 2009, 8:01 am

Hello, I love your videos. Thank you for the laughs too. Can you tell me which food processor you use in this recipe? I have one that makes so much noise I hate to use it so I haven't baked as much anymore. Thanks!
December 30, 2009, 9:33 pm

Becky Germain
I think I've just had an Ah Ha moment! I've worked from various expert pie recipe sources trying whole wheat crusts, and with butter and coconut oil before. And they've never worked. was the amount of water I've been skimping on! Seeing the texture of your dough after you took it out of the food processor totally amazed me. It wasn't dry and crumbly at all. I'm making a pie tomorrow - no more press in crusts for me! I'll let you know how it turns out! Thanks Cynthia.
January 29, 2010, 10:38 pm

Kath Dedon
That looks like a great crust. Love the idea of using coconut oil; I had never thought of that. I love apple and blackberry pies!
June 30, 2010, 1:58 pm

Rebecca Pouliot
I don't make pies very often but when I do, the bottom crust always seems to stick to the pan in places. I just tried this recipe which tastes great, but the same thing happened. Any thoughts? Thanks.
July 5, 2010, 10:00 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hi Rebecca, The only tine I have bottom crusts stick is if I try to remove a piece of pie before it has cooled completely. I also find that a regular pyrex pie plate works better than the more expensive ceramic pie plates.
July 5, 2010, 10:22 pm

Jill Perander
Yum, yum, yum. Just had to make this crust (try out the vodka business) and fill it with the blueberries in my fridge. Scrumdiddlyumtious it was. Thanks for the yummy recipe!
August 2, 2010, 9:58 pm

Katie Cashatt
Finally, I made a pie crust I can be proud of! I also wasn't adding enough water which meant the dough was always too crumbly to be properly rolled out. Seeing you make it made all the difference. I turned out a beautiful double crust blueberry pie last night. Thanks, Cynthia!
August 13, 2010, 11:20 am

Rebecca Z.
Cynthia - I made this pie crust for an open-top peach cream pie about 2 weeks ago and put the extra crust in the freezer. Is it still good to use?
September 1, 2010, 8:09 am

Cynthia Lair
Yes Rebecca. I often freeze the second crust. As long as it has been wrapped tightly it will be fine. (If not wrapped airtight the crust can dry out and be difficult to work with.)
September 1, 2010, 9:08 am

awesome recipe. ty 4 all the info. can't wait to try it. i have so many favorutes can't pick just 1.
September 18, 2010, 12:34 pm

Roberto Guajardo
I usually grind my on grains. So I assume that whole wheat pastry flour would equate to soft winter wheat which has a low protein (gluten) content. But I'm not sure what you mean by unbleached white flour. Would this be more akin to all-purpose flour or to hard red (or white) wheat that has a higher protein (gluten) content? In any event, I stumbled across your site a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to find a recipe to make soba noodles from scratch (which you don't have on your site, but after finding one elsewhere used my noodles with your Yaki-Soba recipe. It was delicious). I have become enthralled with your site and plan to spend the next several months trying out many of your recipes. I think the cast and crew do a fabulous job. But I also think that the recipes you present are the main star. It seems I've discovered your site just at a time when you are losing your location for shooting. I hope that this does not mean that your series will be coming to an end. Oh, and by the way, what is the purpose of typing the letters that I see in the box below?
December 1, 2010, 4:21 pm

Ines Hourani
Hi Cynthia, You are inspirational! Thank you for all that you do. I usually grind my own grains also. When trying to make this crust I used 2 cups of soft white wheat. I added the butter and unrefined coconut oil and it came together without the needing the water. When I tried to roll it out it was too sticky. What did I do wrong?
March 12, 2011, 7:04 pm

Cynthia Lair
Ines, Sorry you are having trouble. It is very difficult to know what went wrong without having been there. I have never made a crust that didn't require some ice water to hold it together. If your dough is too sticky to roll out, it means there was not enough flour. Another factor is that the recipe calls for some whole grain flour which absorbs more moisture than white flour. Also freshly ground flour tends to be more moist than stored flour.
March 13, 2011, 8:10 am

Ines Hourani
Ahh! Thanks - My next try I'll use 1-1/2 fresh ground soft white wheat (I thinks it's equivalent of the whole wheat pastry flour) and 1/2 cup organic store bought flour. Then I'll use less of butter/coconut oil combo. If it's like 'wet sand' then I'll continue from there. Okay wish me luck--here I go.
March 13, 2011, 1:22 pm

Tina Eide
given approaching holiday, I have been charged to bring Pecan Pie. Do you have a recipe that does not include the dreaded high fructose corn syrup?? all standard recipes seem to encorporate that. Also a vegan idea perhaps? is it possible to make without eggs?
November 21, 2011, 10:30 pm

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