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Best Pie Crust Recipes: How To Make An Easy Cream Cheese Flaky Pie Crust

Updated on February 3, 2011

It is a snowy winter day and what else is there to do but browse through cookbooks and recipes and try and find something new that catches my eye? I was thinking about tarts and pies for the upcoming Super Bowl game and ran across this recipe that I had written down from The Pie and Pastry Bible . While my favorite fool-proof pie crust recipe I posted a while back is still my go-to recipe, I'm thinking I really owe this recipe a nod and a try.  The cream cheese is what got me to tell the truth so now I'm going to 'have' to experiment with this one next and see how it goes.

I think the cream cheese element of it will make it easy to handle and hard to mess up.  Anything with cream cheese usually catches my eye and it does sound like an excellent tart shell recipe. Here's to trying it!

For Cream Cheese Pie Crust You Will Need

INGREDIENTS

For a 9-inch pie shell or 9-1/2 or 10 inch tart shell

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup and 1 tablespoon pastry flour or substitute 1 cup (dip and sweep level method) bleached all purpose flour (I always use unbleached though)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (for savory pies use up to 1-1/2 times the salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold cream cheese (I will use nonfat or low-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

For a 9-inch deep dish pie shell, a 10-pinch pie shell or 12 to 14-inch free form tart shell

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1-1/3 cups and 4 teaspoons pastry flour or substitute 1-1/3 cups (dip and sweep level method) bleached all purpose flour (I always use unbleached though)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (for savory pies use up to 1-1/2 times the salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3-ounce package cold cream cheese (I will use nonfat or low-fat)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon ice water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

For a 2-crust 9-inch pie shell

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 cups and 3 tablespoons pastry flour or substitute 2 cups (dip and sweep level method) bleached all purpose flour (I always use unbleached though)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (for savory pies use up to 1-1/2 times the salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/2 3-ounce packages (or 4-1/2 ounces) cold cream cheese (I will use nonfat or low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

How to Make Your Own Pastry Flour

From the Pie and Pastry Bible

Replacing all-purpose flour in recipe with homemade pastry flour:

  • Simply replace 1/3 of all-purpose flour in the recipe with equal weight of cake flour or whole wheat flour.  Whisk or beat them together until blended. 
  • If measuring by volume, use a ratio of 2 parts bleached all-purpose flour to 1 part cake flour.
  • If using a scale, do 2/3 of bleached all-purpose flour to 1/3 cake flour by weight.  If measuring by volume, use these proportions:  4 cups of bleached all-purpose flour measured by dip and sweep and 2-1/4 cups of cake flour measured by dip and sweep.
  • Stir flours lightly before measuring and mix them after combining to blend evenly.

This will make 6-1/4 cups of pastry flour - store airtight.

PREPARATION

Food Processor Method

  1. Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid - at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place flour, salt and baking powder in a resealable gallon sized freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine.  Set the bag aside.
  4. Cut cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add to the flour.  Process for about 20 seconds or until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  5. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea.  (Toss it with a fork to see how it is breaking up from time to time)
  6. Remove the cover to the processor and add water and vinegar.
  7. Pulse until most of butter is reduced to size of small peas.  The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together.
  8. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (For a double crust pie, divide mixture and work with half at a time)
  9. Hold both ends of the bag opening with your fingers. Knead the mixture by pressing it from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in 1 piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  10. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap - flatten into a disc (or discs if making 2) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or overnight (preferred).

Hand Method

  1. Chill a medium bowl in the freezer.
  2. Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes. Wrap this in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place flour, salt, and baking powder in another medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the cream cheese and rub the mixture between fingers to blend cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.
  5. Spoon this mixture together with the cold butter into a gallon-size freezer bag. Expel the air from the bag and close.
  6. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into thin flakes.
  7. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until butter is very firm.
  8. Take the mixture out of the bag and put into the chilled bowl - scrape the sides of the bag. Set bag aside.
  9. Sprinkle the mixture in the bowl with water and vinegar and toss lightly with a rubber spatula. Spoon it back into the plastic bag. (For 2-crust pie, divide the dough into 2 and work with half of the mixture at a time )
  10. Hold both ends of the bag opening with your fingers. Knead the mixture by pressing it from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in 1 piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  11. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap - flatten into a disc (or discs if making 2) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or overnight (preferred).

For pie shell and lattice divide in a ratio of 2/3 and 1/3.  Use 2/3 for shell and 1/3 for the lattice.

This pie crust can be stored up to 2 days in the refrigerator or frozen up to 3 months.

Comments

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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for reading. I seem to enjoy cooking and baking for some crazy reason as it relaxes me - like Calgon take me away.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      8 years ago

      Oh it looks so delicious, unfortunately baking has never been one of my forte's but I will be sure to pass it on to friends.

      Sage

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Oh that is precious! I try and not how awesome I am all the time but I have to say I love it....takes me away to another place when I cook - kinda like playing the piano and probably more people enjoy it - the cooking. I have given up the accordion, however, due to my arms - and the howling from the mals really got embarrassing! Thanks as always for reading - and you sound like you do okay too in the culinary department. Love people that cook as I think it is a dying craft.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Another fabulous recipe! Who cares if it's time intensive. I'm sure when you sit down to eat it, it's flavor intensive. You must be an awesome cook.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      I know - it seems a little labor 'intensive' but I like a challenge so gonna do it!! We'll both be chanting in the kitchen...too funny but I love anything with cream cheese in it....among a million other things.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds yummy! I think I can do this, I think I can, I think I can...maybe I can?

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