I decided to make veggie pot pie for Easter as a vegetarian entrée because it’s pretty, I can prep it ahead of time and then just pop it in the oven when we start the appetizer course, and it’s a hearty dish that’s not another vegetarian lentil loaf (not that I don’t love me some veggie loaf!) that’s chock full of yummy spring vegetables—perfect for a late Easter brunch.
I’m fairly comfortable with pie doughs from scratch at this point. Although I was a total newbie only about a year ago, when I still thought baking wasn’t for me, I have made a few pies that were decent and a handful that were great, and (surprisingly) haven’t totally ruined any yet! Even so, one of my main cooking goals is to get down a go-to recipe I can have memorized and make with confidence for all the basics, pie dough included. Seemed like a good enough excuse to test three different pie doughs over the weekend!
Because I want to focus on the way the crust turns out, I decided to make the same filling for each and chose apple because it’s easy to make in bulk. That will be somewhat of a challenge in terms of deciding the best one, since it’s a sweet pie when I really a savory pie for this occasion—but my thinking is a good pie dough is a good pie dough.
I selected three recipes, all from Food52, one of my most trusted recipe sources:
- Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Crust Recipe via Food52. I chose this one because it’s a community pick, the chef behind the recipe already did tons and tons of dough testing (less work for me!), and it uses vodka (be still, my Polish heart!). Flour, butter, vegetable shortening, ice water, iced vodka, salt.
- Erin McDowell’s Simple Pie Dough from her Strawberries N’ Cream Pie Recipe on Food52. I chose this one because it’s also a community pick, has great ratings, and really is very simple. Flour, butter, ice water, salt.
- The Galette Dough from Food52’s Summer Fruit Galette, which is the same dough as their Savory Galette, which are both in their Baking cookbook, which is great and I love. I picked this one because I’ve made it before and it has turned out delicious a handful of times! All purpose flour, whole wheat flour, butter, ice water, apple cider vinegar, salt.
For each one, I made each recipe twice so that I would have dough for the bottom and dough for the top since I plan on making a double-crust vegetable pot pie. I made each one twice rather than doubling the recipe so that I’d have more practice and so that my bowl wouldn’t be too full to properly mix the dough. I also swapped out the first two recipes’ all all-purpose flours to the all-purpose-to-whole-wheat ratio in the galette recipe because I like using more whole grains when I can and want this dough to be hardier.
I made them all on the same day with the same butters and flours and, other than the flour-swaps, followed the recipes exactly.
Here are the results:
Number 2 was the winner! Turns out, sometimes simpler is better. But how can you go wrong with my three favorite things aka butter, flour, and salt? Erin McDowell’s pie dough was was the easiest to make, the easiest to roll out, and the perfect butter / crumbly / flaky ratio for a pie crust. Next time, though, I’ll have to make sure to cover the edges of my pie—but even slightly browned, still delicious! The dough ended up needing a few more spoonfuls of water than the recipe called for (that “as needed” is really key—just until it sticks together!).
Number 1 was a close second. Cook’s Illustrated definitely had the flakiness right—but I thought it turned out a little too crunchy-flaky, and it was trickier to roll out because it kept sticking to everything (it definitely requires a very floured surface to work with). Flavor was still awesome, and I still need to find a way to get vodka into my everyday-pie-dough-recipe. These two were a toss-up depending on the texture you prefer.
Number 3 was easy to make, tough to form into a dough ball and really tough to roll out, though, like I said before, I’ve made and enjoyed it before in galette form. This one came out a little chewier (think bread) than the first two, which I think makes it ideal for a galette because it’s sturdier—just what you need when you have more filling and the dough is acting as a baking vehicle. The flavor is earthier and deeper, too. All things that I have to chalk up to the ACV since that was the one rogue ingredient and this dough was way different from the first two. Definitely one to whip up as a galette (sweet or savory) on a stormy night.
The takeaway? You can’t go wrong with pie!