Well Being

De-Guilt Fall Baking: 5 Healthy Pie Crust Recipes

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It's officially pie season: I've got a crate of freshly picked apples, a pumpkin, and a bag of organic pears sitting at home, eagerly waiting to find their way between two sheets of pastry. That's not a tall order for someone who likes to bake, but it is a tall order for someone who likes to avoid lots of sugar, white flour, and butter. I don't advise avoiding pies, but you can lighten your pie crusts by subbing low-fat yogurt and sour cream for butter, adding whole grain flours, and using less sugar. The only kind of crust you should never de-fat is puff pastry; for that, you'll need loads of butter and good portion discipline.

I found five pie crust recipes to suit every taste and need; each of them are healthed-up and ready to use with your favorite pie, quiche, and tart recipes, and will afford you a few more bites, guilt-free:

1. Basic Pie Crust, Prevention‘s The Healthy Cook

This name of this recipe says it all: It's plain, basic, and can be used with most recipes. The flavor and texture won't be too different from what you're used to, and so it can be used with any pie recipe you want. Subbing low-fat cream cheese for some of the shortening maintains a flaky, rich texture with less fat. (But if you're looking for a whole grain crust, continue reading…)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons ice water (less if necessary)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening and cream cheese until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. In a cup, combine the lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of the ice water. Sprinkle over the crumbs and mix until the crumbs are moistened. Mix in the remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the crumbs resemble the texture of cottage cheese and can be pressed into a firm ball. Gather the mixture into a ball and press into a thick disk. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling out.
4. For a 9″ single-crust pie, roll the dough out to a 12″ circle. Gently lay the dough in a 9″ no-stick pie pan. Firmly press the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan. Fold the edges under and crimp to form a rim. Using a fork, pierce the bottom of the crust all over to prevent it from puffing up during baking. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

2. Low-Fat, Higher Fiber Crust From Peach Raspberry Pie Recipe, Eating Well

This crust's low dose of butter keeps it from getting too dry thanks to the addition of sour cream, plus it calls for a combination of whole wheat and white flours, so not all of the flour is refined. The crust was originally featured in a summery Peach Raspberry Pie recipe from Eating Well, but we've taken the instructions for the pie crust to be used with any filling.

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient Note)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons ice water

1. To prepare crust: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and, with your fingers, quickly rub them into the dry ingredients until the pieces are smaller but still visible. Add sour cream and oil; toss with a fork to combine with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle water over the mixture. Toss with a fork until evenly moist. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl a few times”the mixture will still be a little crumbly. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead a few more times, until the dough just holds together. Divide the dough in half and shape into 5-inch-wide disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. When filling is ready, position a rack in the center of the oven and place a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below; preheat to 375°F.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; let stand for 5 minutes to warm slightly. Roll one portion between sheets of parchment or wax paper into a 12-inch circle. Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Peel off the remaining paper. Trim the crust with kitchen shears or a butter knife so it overhangs the edge of the pan by 1 inch. Scrape the filling into the crust. Roll the remaining portion of dough between sheets of parchment or wax paper into another 12-inch circle. Peel off the top sheet of paper and invert the dough onto the fruit. Trim the top crust so it overhangs evenly. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust, sealing the two together and making a plump edge. Flute the edge with your fingers. Brush the top and edge with egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut 6 steam vents in the top crust.
4. Bake the pie on the center rack until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 1/2 hours.

3. Walnut Pastry Dough, Eating Well

This low-sugar walnut pastry dough is full of mostly healthy fats from walnuts and walnut oil, using only a bit of butter. Pair it with fillings like apples and cherries for the best results.

1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons walnut oil
6-7 tablespoons cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spread walnuts in a pie pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool.
3. Combine the walnuts, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; process until the walnuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Drizzle oil over the flour mixture. Use your fingertips to rub the oil into the mixture. One tablespoon at a time, add water and mix with a fork until dough is crumbly and holds together when pressed.
5. Divide dough into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other, and form each into a disk.

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