My friend and fellow author Nick Malgieri and i took a delightful ride to Brooklyn this past summer to eat at a Turkish restaurant we both love. On the way there, of course, our conversation turned to baking--specifically pie crusts. I mentioned to Nick that I have two friends who are lactose intolerant, which means they can't have pie crusts made with butter. Although lard makes a wonderful pie crust, it isn't always suitable, for example, I don't like the taste of the lard with sweet fillings. Nick mentioned that he had a great olive oil crust in his book The Modern Baker that was just recently released in paperback. The Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes and Co He said he was planning to try the crust using nut oils instead of the olive oil. I was so enthusiastic about this that I tried it first but sadly found that on baking, the nut oil loses all of its special flavor. But this means that the olive oil, or say a flavorless oil such as canola oil, works well with sweet fillings. (I also tried it with clarified butter but it made the texture cardboardy.)
The olive oil crust lacks both the flavor and the flakiness of a butter or lard crust but it has several valuable virtues in addition to being suitable for the lactose intolerant or those orthodox Jews who wish to have a pareve pie crust for eating with a meat meal. The oil crust stays soft in the refrigerator and never becomes hard even after baking which means one can use it with pie or fillings, which require refrigeration. The crust rolls like a dream, requiring hardly any flour to keep it from sticking. It holds together well yet is tender when baked. And it doesn't shrink on baking!
OLIVE OIL PIE CRUST Adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri
all-purpose flour (I used bleached) */1-1/2 cups/7 ounces/ 200/grams
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I prefer a non-aluminum one such as Rumford)
1/4 cup olive oil/2 ounces/56 grams
2 large eggs/ 3.5 ounces/100 grams
One 10 or 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom
In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder for about 20 seconds to mix well. Add the oil and eggs. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms little moist particles. Empty the dough into a large plastic bag or sheet of plastic wrap and use the outside of the bag or the wrap to press the dough together into a smooth mass.
Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap and chill it for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 3 days.
*If measuring instead of weighing, stir the flour lightly with a whisk or fork, dip the measuring cup in and use a level blade to sweep off the excess.