Whether we make sweet or savory pies, one thing is for sure! We always, and I mean, always, make our pie recipes with sourdough pie crust! The reason is simple – our sourdough pie crust recipe makes the flakiest, most delicious and tender pie crust that is sturdy enough to hold pie filling, but is equally melt-in-the-mouth irresistible! Plus, what better way to use up your sourdough discard and add that sourdough flavour to your bakes?
- Baking With Sourdough Discard
- What Sourdough Discard Does To A Pie Crust?
- Tips For Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust
- A Note on Sourdough Starter
- Step-By-Step Method
- Best Sourdough Pie Crust Uses
- Christmas Sourdough ebook
- Other Sourdough Discard Recipes
- Extra Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust (Sweet or Savoury)
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Baking With Sourdough Discard
If you keep your own sourdough starter, you are probably constantly looking for ways to use up the never-ending sourdough discard. We think it’s a good problem to have! Besides this homemade pie crust, we bake with sourdough discard weekly, making delicious Herby Sourdough Crackers to snack on at work, Sourdough Biscotti to satisfy our sweet tooth and Sourdough Discard Focaccia (recipe coming soon) to serve with soups and stews.
One thing is for sure, sourdough discard does not need to be discarded. Use it to introduce more flavour to your bakes instead!
What Sourdough Discard Does To A Pie Crust?
Here’s how using sourdough discard can affect a pie crust:
- Flavour: Sourdough discard can impart a subtle tangy flavour to the pie crust due to the presence of lactic acid produced during the fermentation process. This can add an interesting depth of flavour to your pie crust that you wouldn’t get with a regular pie crust recipe.
- Tenderness and Texture: The lactic acid produced during sourdough fermentation can contribute to the tenderness of the sourdough crust by breaking down some of the starches in the flour. Sourdough starter is an acidic ingredient that slows down gluten development. This then results in a slightly more tender and flaky texture in the finished crust.
- Rise and Leavening: While sourdough discard doesn’t have as much active yeast as an active sourdough starter, it can still provide a bit of leavening to the crust. This can lead to a slightly lighter and more airy crust compared to a crust made without any leavening agent.
- Handling and Shaping: Sourdough discard can alter the way the dough handles and shapes. The lactic acid can relax the gluten in the dough, making it easier to roll out and shape without excessive spring-back.
- Prolonged Shelf Life: Sourdough discard is acidic due to the lactic acid produced during fermentation. Acidity can help inhibit the growth of certain spoilage microbes and moulds, which could contribute to a longer shelf life for the crust.
Tips For Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust
This all-butter sourdough pie crust recipe isn’t hard to master and produces a very tender and flaky pie crust every time. But if this is your first time making it, make sure to read through our tips below.
- Cold Fat: One of the best ways to achieve a flaky crust is to start with cold fat. Use butter that’s been frozen. Make sure not to handle the dough too much, and leave some large pieces of butter as well as some smaller pieces in the dough. These pockets of butter in the dough will melt during baking, creating those desirable flaky layers.
- Don’t Add Too Much Water at Once: When adding water to your dough, remember not to pour in too much all at once. Gradually incorporate the water until the dough just comes together. This step helps prevent overworking the dough, which can lead to a tough crust.
- Flaky Layers Through Folding: A great way to enhance flakiness is by employing folding techniques. After incorporating the butter and water, fold the dough a few times. This process creates layers, making the crust flakier when baked.
- Best Way to Roll: When it’s time to roll out the dough, ensure you’re doing it gently and evenly. Aim for a consistent thickness to encourage even baking and a uniform flaky texture.
- Pie Plate Preparation: When transferring the dough to the pie plate, handle it carefully to preserve those buttery layers. Once in the plate, press the dough gently to fit the contours. Trim any excess dough neatly for a professional appearance.
- cold butter: and we mean cold, we freeze our butter for 1 hour before making the pastry for best results. We use unsalted butter, but if you choose to use salted, halve the amount of salt in this recipe.
- plain flour: also known as all-purpose flour. You may substitute up to ¼ of it with whole wheat flour, but not that your pastry will not be as tender.
- caster sugar: optional. We only sweeten the pastry dough when making sweet pies.
- salt: we love Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
- sourdough discard: unfed sourdough starter, 100% hydration (this simply means that your starter has been previously fed equal parts of water and flour).
- very cold water: we recommend adding some ice cubes to a small glass of water to keep it extra cold.
A Note on Sourdough Starter
This sourdough-based pie crust is made using a cold discard starter combined with water to effectively bind the pastry. A discard starter that’s directly taken from the refrigerator contributes to the butter in the dough staying cold, which in turn, produces all the lovely flaky layers in the cooked pastry.
Each sourdough starter is unique. Even if you take two 100% hydration staters, they may differ in their consistency. A starter that hasn’t been recently fed tends to be of more liquid consistency. This liquidity indicates that a lesser amount of water will be needed to bind the dough. In contrast, a more recently fed starter will be less liquidity, so you will need more ice water for the dough.
If you are not yet a proud sourdough starter owner, download our FREE Sourdough Starter Guide below and embark on a wonderfully rewarding sourdough journey!
Step 1: Make The Sourdough Pie Crust Dough
Weigh out and place the butter in the freezer 1 hour before you start making the pastry. When the butter is frozen, start by mixing your dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, place the flour, salt and sugar, if using, and mix to combine. Coarsely grate your frozen butter (break up the last bit into large pieces) into the flour mixture and toss together to coat the butter pieces.
Alternatively: you may use a food processor. Simply place your dry ingredients and cubes of frozen butter into the food processor and pulse. Another way to cut the butter in the flour is by using a pastry blender (pastry cutter).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sourdough discard with three tablespoons of ice water (reserve the rest of the water for later, should your dough be a bit too try).
Add the sourdough mixture to the flour and, using a blunt knife or a fork work it in to form a dough. If your pastry is too dry, add a little water (1 teaspoon at a time) and knead just enough to bring the pastry dough together.
If you are looking for an easy pie crust, you can stop here. Simply flatten the pastry, wrap it tightly in cling wrap and chill for 4 hours before using, but we highly recommend that you laminate your pastry, if you want a flaky pie crust.
Step 2: Laminate (Without Extra Butter) For Flakiest Results
Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rough square (about 25x25cm). Gently lift the lower ⅓ of the dough and fold it towards the centre, then take the upper ⅓ of the dough and fold it over the top, forming a pamphlet-like shape. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Roll it out into a square again, and fold it like a pamphlet once more.
Step 3: Chill The Pie Dough
Cut your pastry in half down the middle. Flatten it slightly and wrap each piece tightly in a piece of plastic wrap. Place the pastry in the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight) before using in recipes.
Step 4: Using Sourdough Pie Crust in Recipes
The quantities in the recipe below are enough to make one 23cm (9in) double crust pie or two single crust pies.
When you’re ready to make your pies, take the pastry out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes, so that it is easier to handle. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use in recipes as instructed.
If you are making a double crust pie, we highly recommend you blind bake the bottom crust. Blind baking is a process where the pie pan is lined with pastry and then covered with pieces of parchment paper and pie weights. The weights stop the bottom pie crust from puffing up. The pie crust is then fully or partially cooked in the oven, before removing the weights and adding the filling and the top crust.
Satisfying crispness and delicate flakiness are both signs of a good pie crust. The oven temperature must be relatively high in order for the water to evaporate quicker before the butter has a chance to melt.
Why is My Sourdough Pie Crust Too Hard?
Here are some common factors that might contribute to a hard pie crust:
- Overworking the Dough: Handling the dough too much can cause the gluten in the flour to develop excessively, resulting in a tough and hard texture.
- Insufficient Fat: If you can, use European-style butter that has a higher fat content.
- Not Resting the Dough: Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator before rolling it out helps relax the gluten and make the crust more tender.
- Altitude and Environment: High altitudes or extremely dry environments can impact baking outcomes, including pie crusts. Adjustments to the recipe or baking conditions might be needed.
How To Prevent Soggy Pie Crust?
Soggy pie crust, or “soggy bottom” affects the double crust pie, and can typically be avoided by bling baking the pastry before adding the fillings. Read more about blind baking in the section above.
Store this all-butter crust dough in tightly wrapped in cling film in the fridge for up to 2 days. Alternatively, you may freeze it. But make sure to double wrap (we like the combination of cling film and airtight ziplock freezer bag) to prevent freezer burn. The pastry will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Best Sourdough Pie Crust Uses
- Traditional Sweet Pies: for example, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie or Cherry Pie.
- Savoury Pot Pies: Try these Chicken Pot Pies – they are our favourites!
- Hand Pies with a variety of fillings! Or even Cornish Pasties!
Christmas Sourdough ebook
Celebrate the holiday season with a unique twist this year with our 24 Christmas Sourdough recipes! Discover the magic of using active sourdough starter, sourdough discard, and leftover baked sourdough bread to create a memorable and flavoursome Christmas feast.
Other Sourdough Discard Recipes
Are you a keen sourdough baker? Here are a few sourdough recipes that use starter discard for you to try next time:
- Sourdough Banana Bread (Made With Sourdough Discard)
- Fruit & Seed Sourdough Crackers | Perfect for Cheese Board
- Easy Sourdough Lemon Muffins
Extra Flaky Sourdough Pie Crust (Sweet or Savoury)
- Grater or Pastry Cutter, or Food Processor
- 160 unsalted butter frozen
- 250 g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 100 g sourdough discard
- 3-5 tablespoon cold water
- Weigh out and place the butter in the freezer 1 hour before you start making the pastry. When the butter is frozen, start mixing your dry ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the flour, salt and sugar, if using, and mix to combine. Coarsely grate your frozen butter into the flour mixture and toss together to coat the butter pieces.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sourdough discard with three tablespoons of ice water (reserve the rest of the water for later, should your dough be a bit too try).
- Add the sourdough mixture to the flour and, using a blunt knife or a fork work it in to form a dough. If your pastry is too dry, add a little water (1 teaspoon at a time) and knead just enough to bring the pastry dough together.
- If you are looking for an easy pie crust, you can stop here. Simply flatten the pastry, wrap it tightly in cling wrap and chill for 4 hours before using, but we highly recommend that you laminate your pastry, if you want a flaky pie crust.
- Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rough square (about 25x25cm). Gently lift the lower ⅓ of the dough and fold it towards the centre, then take the upper ⅓ of the dough and fold it over the top, forming a pamphlet-like shape. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Roll it out into a square again, and fold it like a pamphlet once more.
- Cut your pastry in half down the middle. Flatten it slightly and wrap each piece tightly in a piece of plastic wrap. Place the pastry in the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight) before using in recipes.