The Math Behind Pie Crusts

Pie Crust Formula

pie dough in a pan
making pie crust

Did you know that pie crust has a baker’s formula/ratio?  It reminds me how pound cake received its signature name by the simple formula that consist of a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar. The Math Behind Pie Crust is a simple formula that will help the art of making pie simpler and easy.

Pie crust also has an easy formula to remember, 3:2:1  Simple right?

Pie Crust Basics-The Math

tart pan used as a pattern to cut out dough
Using tart pan to cut pie dough

Here’s how it works:

3 parts flour (All-purpose) this is ideal for the structure

2 parts fat ( butter, shortening, lard)

1 part water (always ice-cold)

There are two categories of pie crust, flaky and mealy.  Here are the differences:

Pie crusts can be intimidating but they are easier than you might think.

Flaky Crust:

Usually filled with cream type fillings and quiche’s.  When you mix in the fat when making the dough, you generally want to keep the fat larger, about the size of a walnut.

Mealy Crust:

Usually filled with fruits and custards.  When making the dough you want to mix it until the fat is smaller, about the size of peas.  The benefit of this type of crust is it prevents the crust from becoming soggy.

Additional Pie Crusts tips:

In addition to the Math Behind Pie Crusts, there are so many great tips for making great pie dough:

1. Mix the ingredients just till combined before flattening into a disc to refrigerate.

2. Refrigerate the dough after mixing 30 minutes to allow the fat to firm up and relax the gluten.

3. Roll the crust to a 1/8″ thickness and refrigerate before filling.  This will keep the fats chilled and structure strong.

4. Make sure filling is cold/cool before filling or otherwise it will melt the fat in the crust.

5. Refrigerate the filled pie 15 minutes before putting in the oven to keep the crust firm and formed and not shrink when baking.

One more fun food science fact…… when baking your pie crusts in the oven, the oven acts in a physical capacity to leaven (rise) the ingredients by creating steam and lift.

Check out some other great baking information:

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