Flaky All-Butter Pie Crust with Yogurt

As promised, this is the pie crust seen in the previous post for Banana Cream Pie.

raw pie dough post 1b blog

My new favorite pie crust. The secret ingredient is YOGURT!

Opening the oven to find a misshapen, melted or just plain ugly pie crust is one of my top culinary frustrations. It drives my current obsession to find a better method and/or recipe guaranteed to produce a buttery, rich, flaky and golden brown crust that is OBEDIENT and beautiful. While I’m at it, I also want pie dough that handles easily, goes together quickly (preferably not with a fork or fingers) and requires less than an hour from flour canister to oven.

I learned to make pie crusts from the back of a Crisco can. They were decent–the dough handled nicely and baked up pretty much the way I hoped.  But the idea of all that shortening (or my mom’s favorite–lard), is a little scary now although I admit to still using it occasionally in bread and cookies. Not that straight butter is all that much healthier, but…oh well. I think an all-butter crust does taste better and the golden brown color is irresistible.

It all started with a newly purchased cookbook, flour by Joanne Chang. I love her method of mixing pie dough using a stand mixer and adapted my method from hers.  Then I ran across a crust recipe in a magazine calling for sour cream in addition to butter and I was struck by rare inspiration. What if I replaced the sour cream and water with  nonfat yogurt? I was surprised and elated with the results.

prebaked yogurt pie crust blog

Bumpy lumpy surfaces are a sign of flaky layers beneath.

Turns out the acidity of the yogurt acts the same way vinegar or lemon juice does in some recipes. The yogurt also replaces water as a binder.  A touch of sugar and an egg yolk increase the richness and encourage browning. I don’t totally understand it, but the yogurt seems to work magic and rewards me with a crust I can’t wait to pull out of the oven.

Although I use my own homemade, nonfat, unflavored yogurt, I also tested this recipe with store-bought regular nonfat yogurt, vanilla flavored nonfat yogurt, and nonfat Greek yogurt. All worked great. If you use Greek yogurt that is VERY thick, thin it with a bit of milk before measuring.

I asked my sister Kay, a good southern cook, to test my strange, new recipe. She declared it so tasty she could hardly keep her hands off the baked scraps.  She was last seen headed for the stationary bike–where I should be too after making this crust more than a dozen times.

pie crust cookies blog

Pie Crust “Cookies” with cinnamon-sugar on top–my downfall!  Look at those flakes?

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Mixing and smooshing pie dough.


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Use a well-flour pastry cloth and rolling pin sock for easy roll-out.

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Trim and decorate edge.

 

blind baking crust 2

Molding foil to inside of frozen crust and using paper snake will help prevent distortion of crust

Flaky All-Butter Pie Crust with Yogurt
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
All-butter pie crust with nonfat yogurt produces incredibly tasty, flaky and tender crust that bakes up beautifully, even without a filling.
Author:
Serves: 1 9-inch pie crust
Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup unflavored yogurt (See discussion above regarding substitutions)
Instructions
  1. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar and salt on low speed for 5 seconds. Cut butter into 8 pieces (no more) and add to flour. Mix on low speed for about 45 seconds. (I count it off). Whisk egg yolk and yogurt together in separate small bowl and add all at once to flour. Mix on Low speed for about 12-15 seconds. All particles should be barely moistened but not yet coming into a ball. You’re going for a shaggy mess that will hold together if you squeeze it between your fingers.
  2. Dump dough onto big piece of plastic wrap.. Take the palm of your hand and slide it face-down from the middle toward the side of the pile to smoosh the crumbs together and flatten out the big pieces of butter. Work your way around the pile until dough is smashed into one big flat clump. Fold plastic wrap up around dough, pressing gently to form a smooth round patty approximately an inch thick. You could wrap and chill the dough at this point but I find it unnecessary and even more difficult to roll out when dough has been fully chilled. Besides, I usually don’t have time to wait so I work quickly before the butter can soften.
  3. Using a well-floured (rub flour into cloth with your fingers) pastry cloth (or large linen-like tea towel) and pastry sock-covered rolling pin, roll out pie crust to a diameter about 1-1/2 inch larger than your pie plate. Place plate upside down on dough and flip dough into pan using pastry cloth to hold on as you invert dough. Peel pastry cloth off dough and carefully fit dough inside pan being careful not to stretch it. If dough sticks to cloth, use a knife to carefully loosen it and lightly dab with flour to repair. Trim crust about ½-inch past rim of pie plate and turn under excess so dough is now even with the side of the plate. Form decorative edge as desired. (If dough seems too soft to work with, refrigerate until firm.)
  4. Wrap well and freeze until hard–about 30 minutes or longer–up to a month.
  5. To bake without a filling: When ready to bake, remove from freezer and press a piece of aluminum foil snug to the inside of pie crust folding the edges of the foil carefully over the decorative edge to protect from over-browning. Although you could fill pie crust with beans or rice, I much prefer to take a piece of parchment paper about 36 inches long and twist it until it is a long, round snake-like configuration. Roll it into a spiral that looks like a sleeping snake. The spiral should match the inner circumference of your pie plate. Smash it flat until it holds spiral shape. Lay inside foil covered pie crust to keep it from rising up in the middle. (The paper snake is reusable–save it.) Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove paper and foil, push down any bubbles and continue baking 8-10 minutes longer until lightly browned. If crust is stubborn and still wants to rise up in the middle after first 10 minutes, put the paper snake back into the crust for a few minutes to weigh it down until crust is baked enough to hold its shape.

 

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Sis April 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

It is sooooo good and easy too.

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Sis April 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm

By the way, my pastry cloth is so worn out there is a hole in the middle, but I cannot find a new one. Everyone seems to have gone to the silicone mats. Does anyone know where to find the old-fashion pastry cloth and roller stocking???

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Paula April 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I just bought a new one at Ace Hardware. Have also seen them in the grocery store. You can always use a linen-like dish towel if it’s big enough.

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Betty @ scrambled hen fruit April 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Pie crust and I have a love-hate relationship. I love eating it and hate making it. :) I’ll have to try this one- I haven’t found one yet I couldn’t mess up but I hope this one will be the first!

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Paula April 18, 2011 at 7:29 am

You are so smart! Your crust looks wonderful.

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TheKitchenWitch April 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

Yay! The crust recipe is here! Not that I’ll dare make it…but I can admire it from afar…

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Judy April 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

I have several excellent pastry recipes, but have never tried one with yogurt. Will definitely give this a try.

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rere April 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

wow, you are a very good cook, that looks delicious.

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Lorraine April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

It looks and sounds just wonderful! Who needs filling, right?

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LinC April 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Looks like a very interesting recipe. I like the idea of the tang of the yogurt. I’ll bet you could also make the dough in a food processor.

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Paula April 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

A food processor would work or you could just make it by hand the old-fashioned way.

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Megan April 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I’m not much of a pie crust making person but this looks so flaky, easy, and good. I’m still admiring not only the crust, but the banana custard pie too! :)

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Nina April 19, 2011 at 7:07 am

Paula, I learn so much from you!! This is brilliant! Love this post…your instructions are perfect. I have had my eye on the Flour book for a while now…I think its time to be added to my collection! Thanks for this…have a great week! xo

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Karen April 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

Perfect looking pie crust! I love the “cookies” – that’s what I call a cook’s reward. ;-)

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Mimi April 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Who need the filling when you have such a nice flaky crust.
Mimi

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Tamara April 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Vodka piecrust is my favorite, but I can’t wait to try this!

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Paula April 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hi Tamara, If you’re talking about the one in Cooks Illustrated, I’ve tried it too. Good. I think you would enjoy this one too.

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khairul April 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

nice post.. thanks for sharing,,, greetings from jakarta

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Vicki V April 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I am pie crust impaired, but you can bet I am going to try this!

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Jill April 27, 2011 at 7:06 am

This looks so fabulous. It’s going on my must-try list!

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Kendra May 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I’m the family pie maker at Thanksgiving- I can’t wait (but I will for the sake of my waistline) until the fall when I can pull out this recipe! Thanks! I’ll report back in November… PS I bought all the stuff I need to make yogurt- now I need to work up the courage to actually do it!

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petra September 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I have been making mine with all butter and cold water for the longest time. when you posted yours earlier this year with the yogurt i had to try and I keep coming back for it. Its the perfect crust for us and is my go to now. Just came back looking for it since I cant find my copy (we just moved across country). Thanks for the perfect crust for us!

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Jade C. March 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I just found your blog and recipes through Pinterest – I LOVE the sound of this pie crust! I have been on a very similar mission to find the perfect crust and I am super excited to try this one out! Thank you for sharing!! And, of course, I pinned both the crust recipe as well as those delicious looking crust cookies! Yum!! :)

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Paula March 16, 2012 at 6:12 am

Thanks Jade,
Hope you like it. It’s the flakiest pie crust ever! pr

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Michelle July 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I’ve had this pinned for quite some time and I wish I had found it/did it sooner!! It turned out SO WELL!! I made it with greek yogurt {I followed your direction of thinning it down} and used it as the crust for a strawberry cream pie. My friends couldn’t stop complimenting!! So happy to have found a healthier pie crust! Thanks for sharing.

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Paula July 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

You’re welcome, Michelle. It is one of the best-kept secrets on this blog.

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Jenn July 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

I think I found my new way to make crust, so trying this out soon! Thank you!!

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Sarah September 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I use this pie crust regularly…for apple pie, for peach pie, for chicken pot-pie, for pumpkin pie. Is is delicious…and a little bit different. It is also simple and “fool proof”.

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Marilou September 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

For 30+ yrs I have made pie crust w/ lard and egg yolk and vinegar. I thought the vinegar was only to neutralize the lardy taste. Wow that acid must be what makes it flakey. What a revolation. I love the buttery taste and it is getting very hard to get pure lard. The only thing I would recomend (who am I to try to teach you ) is using a food processor instead of the stand mixer. I have tried both and seem to have more control w/ the FP. I think it’s because the dough is just handled less that way. Also it is so quick. I just assemble all measured ingredients in various containers and do one recipe at a time. I have very arthritic hands and I can still make 5-6 pastry disks ready for freezer in less than 40 minutes.
I enjoy your site and every recipe I have tried ( a good many) and always tell everyone where I got the recipe.
Meet you in person in heaven someday. Maybe we will share a kitchen.

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Kathy January 13, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I make my pie crust in a food processor, takes the work out of it and it always comes out perfectly in seconds. The mess is contained in the processor, less clean up. First, pulse the dry ingredients and the fat ingredients until it flakes into small crumply pieces then add your wet ingredients and put processor on slow to medium speed until the dough forms into a ball all by itself. I put my butter in the freezer for 10 minutes before using it for pie crust. I roll my crust between wax paper. I used apple cider vinegar in mine but I am going to try this pie crust recipe, it sounds and looks yummy.

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petra July 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

just wanted to let you know this has been my go to crust since you posted it. I usually use sour cream instead of the yogurt. Thanks so much.

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Paula July 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

Cool! Haven’t tried sour cream but why not? Sounds great.

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