Whole Wheat Pie Crust: it's easy as pie!

Flaky, buttery, crispy… whole wheat pie crust?

Doesn’t seem like that’s how to describe a pie crust made with whole wheat, does it? Well folks, put this on your “must bake” list. This crust, made with white whole wheat flour, looks and acts just like its all-purpose cousin – but comes with all of the nutritional benefits that whole wheat brings.

How to make Whole Wheat Pie Crust via @kingarthurflourMaking a pie crust can be a daunting feat for many. It’s the sort of thing that you need to make a few times before it becomes second nature.

I learned to make the perfect pie from the ever-knowledgeable Susan Reid, editor of our new magazine, Sift. She’s pretty masterful, so if you’re starting at square one, it’s well worth reading her pie crust blog. And re-reading it, and printing it to tape on the countertop. Maybe turn it into wallpaper?

Maybe you’re perfectly comfortable making pie, but the thought of introducing whole wheat into the equation is giving you pause. It certainly did me the first time I attempted it. Just breathe, remember that you’re a super-awesome baker who can do anything, and give it a shot!

Traditional whole wheat flour (as opposed to white wheat flour) is going to give you a significantly darker crust; you’ll also to able to taste it. For those who enjoy the taste of whole wheat, this is a benefit. But for those who are trying to add nutrition without anyone being the wiser, white whole wheat is your flour of choice.

How to make Whole Wheat Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Same nutritional benefits – totally different taste. How is that possible?

It’s simple. White whole wheat flour is ground from white wheat berries, rather than from red wheat berries, the kind that become traditional whole wheat flour. Both are 100% whole-grain; but the white wheat berries yield flour with a milder taste and lighter color.

Here are a few things to remember when creating a whole-wheat pie crust:

1) Give your whole wheat pie crust a rest before rolling it out.

Your dough will soften up and roll out smoother after the wheat has had a chance to rest. Without that rest, it may tend to crack and split.

I attempted to roll a round of whole-wheat dough immediately after mixing, and it cracked and crumbled. It truly does need at least a 30-minute rest before any rolling and shaping. Once it had a chance to rest, the crust rolled out and crimped up like a dream.

2) Whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than all-purpose flour.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to add more water to your dough. Treat whole wheat flour the same as all-purpose; it will let you know when it’s had enough. Grab a handful and give it a squeeze. If it sticks together, you’re good.

You can easily add more water; but it’s far harder to adjust dough consistency when there’s too much water. If you try to compensate by working in more flour, the result is often a tough, dry crust.

3) Substituting a little orange juice for water helps with whole wheat pie crust’s flavor.

This trick works well, whether you’re using white whole wheat or traditional whole wheat. OJ tends to temper the wheat’s assertive taste, without adding any orange flavor of its own.

4) Handle the dough for whole wheat pie crust as little as possible.

As with making any pie dough, it’s best to keep handling time to a minimum. Hot hands = melted butter = less flaky. Using a pastry blender will keep the friction down, which will keep your butter cold.

5) For best texture and flavor, use a combination of butter and shortening.

Could you make whole wheat pie crust with all butter? Yes, though your fancy fluted edges might not turn out so well. Shortening gives the pie structure. Butter gives it great flavor. And both fats add to the crust’s flakiness. I think the combination of the two will give you the ideal whole-wheat crust with proper edges.

My fellow blogger PJ Hamel wrote up a fabulous blog comparing the two fats. It explains in far greater detail what using each will produce.

How to make Whole Wheat Pie Crust via @kingarthurflour

Top left: white whole wheat flour; Top right: traditional whole wheat flour; Bottom; all-purpose

I did a little experimenting to see how the process of making an all-purpose, white whole wheat, and whole wheat pie crust compared. Honestly? There isn’t much difference. However, the rest period is more crucial with the whole wheat than the all-purpose.

Concerned that your picky eaters won’t touch a whole-wheat pie, even when stuffed full of sweet fruit? You can see that there’s a huge difference in the appearance of the traditional whole wheat crust versus the one made with all-purpose flour. So maybe that’s not a good start. White whole wheat has a lighter appearance, as well as mellower taste.

Can you make a pie that’s half all-purpose and half whole wheat? Absolutely. Just follow the basic guidelines, adding water a little at a time. The result should be that flaky yet tender crust you’re after.

Fresh Raspberry Pie via @kingarthurflourCreating a whole wheat pie crust is well worth the effort. How else could you justify filling it with chocolate cream and enjoying an extra big slice?! Though personally, I think a Fresh Raspberry Pie should be the first thing on the menu!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Whole Wheat Pie Crust.

Print just the recipe. Don’t forget, you can adjust the font size at the top left of the print page.

Gwen Adams
About

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...

comments

  1. Elizabeth C

    I wish I had seen this article BEFORE making my WW pie crust. My mom has made WW pie crust for years and I never thought there was anything to it. Was I ever wrong. There is a lot to it – the less the dough is worked, the more tender the crust! I love using WW flour in ALL of my baking/cooking, it is what I grew up on. My Dad even ground our flour for awhile, not too bad either. I will keep trying to make the “perfect” WW crust, as I do so enjoy the taste of a good WW crust! I hope others will give WW crust a try…in the long its better all the way around. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Marilyn

    Can you freeze this dough? IF so, how? Should it be rolled out flat and then frozen, or is it okay to freeze it in a ball, then thaw and roll? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This dough freezes nicely. I would press it into a disc about 1/2″ thick and freeze, then thaw in the fridge before rolling it out. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No precautions, just go ahead and double the recipe. Be sure that you take a look at the recipe you are using to check and see if it already makes two crusts. Happy pie baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Janis H

    I have whole wheat pastry flour in my cupboard. Would I be able to use that in place of the white whole wheat flour in this recipe?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, please do use the whole wheat pastry flour. You may need less liquid is all. Add a little at at time. Elisabeth@KAF

  4. myrna mcnair

    Can the whole wheat crust be baked then filled with a pudding type filling like a banana cream pie?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, you sure may. If you are at all uncertain on how to do this, please take a look at this blog on blind baking. Have fun making a dreamy creamy pie! Elisabeth@KAF

  5. Amy M

    I only use half-shortening, half-butter in my crust for the last few years, but my mother and grandmother used a recipe I’ve never seen from anyone else. They used all shortening, a little vinegar, and an egg!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Maggie,
      Vodka is meant to keep too much gluten from forming with regular AP flour recipes. If you were to add vodka, it may make the crust too fall apart and crumbly. If you do give it a try, try using half of the amount of vodka. ~ MJ

  6. Irma

    Thanks so much for your tips and tricks. Now more people will be encouraged to make whole wheat pastry which in my opinion is so much more interesting and enjoyable than the regular pastry. Although it is just as light, the extra fiber makes it more filling, so one cannot eat as much, which = less calories. I’ve been using KA Whole Wheat Flour to make both pate brisee and pate sucree for ages and once I mastered it, have never had any problems, and the flavor has been excellent without the orange juice. I have never used shortening because I am making a healthier product (increased fiber, less fat), so that would defeat my purpose. Over the last few years, I have even been adding flaxseed meal, oatmeal, bulgur, etc. to increase the fiber/nutrients without the saturated fat. But it’s really great to see this recipe. Hope more people will try it. Thanks KA, you guys are THE BEST!! Irma from Fiber & Spice: fast food for fitness. fiberandspice.biz

    Reply
  7. AnnieJ

    I’ve been going to try the white whole wheat and this post has finally peaked my curiosity. My reluctance to try a whole grain crust comes from my youth.

    When I was just 18 I was the nanny and cook for an actor’s family traveling for his work. They ate carefully, whole grains, raw milk, etc. When the father’s aunt, who had owned a diner for 30 years, was coming to visit I decided to make an apple pie. Though I was young I had grown up cooking was a pretty good baker. I had not, though, ever made a pie with whole grains. This was 1969 and whole grains were not yet ubiquitous. The only flour we had was a coarsely ground Indian Red Wheat. I struggled mightily with that dough, finally settling for a much thicker crust than normal.

    Filled with apples that pie weighted a ton! We each hefted the pie and had a good laugh, but those kind people dug right in and not a single sliver went to waste.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes you can Bernie. Probably the only difference from your other recipe is the whole wheat flour.JoAnn@KAF

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