My broccoli and red pepper quiche in whole wheat pie shell

If you are just learning to use whole wheat in pastries, you may find it a little daunting. I’m here to prove to you that a delectable, tender whole wheat crust is within your reach.

As a young bride, when I first started making whole wheat crusts, they came out pretty tough and heavy. I was so discouraged, in fact, that I stopped making pies altogether.

Years later, without an expert pie-making mom or mother-in-law nearby to supply the pies on holidays and special occasions, I decided to learn how to get the flaky, tender pastry I craved, so I began experimenting.

I tried dozens of “no-fail” recipes, tweaking and changing them until I came up with a recipe I could rely on. You can get my recipe here: Tender, Flaky Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust.


Step-by-step in pictures

On this page, I show you, step by step, the techniques I’ve learned to help you attain a flaky whole grain crust. To see full-size photos, click on the magnifying glass in the corner of the thumbnails.

Easy? Yes, and practice makes it easier

There is nothing difficult about any of these steps. Each is easy to do. But because of the nature of whole wheat, getting a consistently good pie crust depends a bit on practice–getting a feel for the dough.

The quantity of moisture you need to add to make the dough hold together depends entirely on the flour. Unlike highly processed white flour, whole wheat is unrefined, and therefore less predictable. A changeable thing, it is subject to temperature and humidity and a host of factors far beyond our control, from growing to harvesting to milling.

Through experience, you will begin to feel whether the dough is too wet or too dry, when it needs a little more liquid and when not.

The shopping list–Tools you will need

Very likely you already have most of the tools you need, but if you are new to baking pies, the shopping list at the bottom of the page lists every tool I use.

I am especially fond of the deep stainless bowls because they are easy to hold, have a silicone non-slip grip on the bottom, and lids, so I can mix and store in one bowl. I use the middle bowl for making crust, because it is deep enough that flour doesn’t fly out when I’m sifting and whisking the dry ingredients.

It may be a small thing, but the stainless steel pastry cutter has saved me hours of time and tons of elbow grease over the years. Cutting butter into pastry with this tool is far easier and less time consuming than either the wire pastry cutter I used to use or the two knives I learned to use in Home Economics back in junior high.

Take time to enjoy the process

Joy in dough? It is true. Working with dough makes me happy, and you may find it does the same for you. One of the joys of baking is the feeling that enters my fingertips and flows all the way up to my heart and mind. It is a feeling, an understanding that the wheat and the dough is, well, alive is the only way I know to express it. This is something I never felt with white flour.

The pleasure of baking is as much in working with the dough as it is in seeing, tasting and sharing wholesome, mouth-watering pies and quiches.

My gratitude to Maria Rodale of Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen for sharing her bakery friend Haika’s secret to extra flaky pastry: Using room temperature butter rather than chilled. It works!

About the pictures

That background image is of a raw whole wheat crust, fluted and ready to bake, then to fill with homemade pumpkin custard and bake again. It didn’t last long! The colorful one up above is of my broccoli and red pepper quiche. Click on the picture to get the recipe.

Without further ado, enter Whole Wheat Pie Crust 101.

  • Time: About an hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Cost: Varies

Materials

  • Pie crust ingredients (see link to my whole wheat recipe)
  • Unbleached parchment paper
  • Pie beads or dried beans enough to fill your pie pan

Tools

  • 2-quart Stainless steel bowl
  • Bench knife
  • Stainless steel pastry cutter
  • Fork
  • Wire mesh strainer
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie plate or quiche pan
  • Oven thermometer
  • Wire rack
Step 1

Prepare your dry ingredients according to your recipe. Place all your utensils and the ready flour mixture in the fridge. Chill for one-half hour while you slice the butter and bring it to room temperature.

Here's a quick way to do it:

Using a bench knife, slice your stick of butter into thirds, lengthwise. Turn it, and slice it into thirds lengthwise again, so you have long sticks about 3/8" thick. Now slice those into small cubes approximately the same thickness.

Spread them out on a saucer and let them warm to room temperature, about one-half hour, depending on how warm--or how cold--your kitchen is.

Step 2

Using a sturdy pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are about the size of a small pea. The mixture will resemble a slightly lumpy cornmeal in texture.

Step 3

Add moisture one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together when you squeeze a bit in your hand.

Step 4

Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to roll out a 9" pie crust comfortably. Dust it lightly with flour, and turn the mixture onto the parchment paper.

Step 5

Using your chilled bench knife, quickly and gently work the dough into a lump, turning it against the parchment-covered board again and again. Touch it with your hands as little as possible.

Step 6

Continue working the dough until it resembles a roundish disk. This part of the process should take no more than a minute or two.

Step 7

Dust your fingers lightly with flour and pick up the rounded lump. Hold it between your thumb and forefinger and roll on the board to smooth the edges. I don't know why it works, but this helps give you a nice even circle when you roll it out.

Until I learned this trick, I used to have torn edges that cut deep into the circle. I always had to paste the bits together in the pie plate. Not any more!

Step 8

Roll the disk until the dough is well integrated. This one is nearly there. It still has a few cracks showing, that would result in tears when you roll out the crust.

Keep rolling the disk around the parchment paper till these are gone, but not so long that your hands warm up the dough. Be careful not to press the dough. let the smoothness of the board do the work.

Step 9

When your disk is mostly round and about 3/4-1 inch in height, pull the parchment paper around it, tuck the ends in so they don't come loose, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

I find 30 minutes is just right to chill the dough without making it too cold to roll out quickly. Some say that refrigerating overnight helps the wheat to absorb the moisture and become more tender, but I have not noticed a difference in the outcome, and the dough is much more difficult to roll when it is that cold.

Step 10

Open the parchment paper and very lightly dust both parchment paper and dough with flour.

Step 11

Lay your rolling pin on the center of the disk and roll away from you. Turn the parchment paper a quarter turn, lay the pin again in the center of the disk and roll away from you. Continue turning and rolling.

At first, it may seem as though the dough is not beginning to stretch and flatten, but keep going. Soon the circle will begin to shrink in height and expand in circumference.

The goal here is to work gently enough that the flour and butter are not separated, but remain fused, for it is in their fusion that you get the little flaky layers that make pastry so tender and delightful on the tongue.

Step 12

From time to time, flip the disk over. This helps to keep the pastry from sticking to the parchment. If necessary dust very lightly with flour.

The objective here is to keep the pastry from sticking to pin or surface, but not to add so much flour that the dough becomes dry.

Step 13

Roll the dough to about two inches larger than the widest diameter of your pie plate or quiche pan. You need enough to fill the sides with an overhang for turning under to form the crimped edge.

Step 14

Carefully roll the dough away from the parchment and onto your rolling pin.

Step 15

Lift the rolled dough quickly over the pie plate, center it and unroll. Gently help the pastry to settle into the contours of the dish.

Step 16

Trim the edges with your kitchen shears, leaving about a half inch overhang.

Step 17

Working quickly, turn the edge under all the way round.

Step 18

Crimp or flute the edge. For a quiche like this, I simply help the dough to conform to the quiche plate. For a pie plate, I make a scalloped edge by gently pushing the dough with two fingers against the broad side of my thumb.

Prick the bottom of the pie shell lightly with a fork here and there. This helps prevent bubbles lifting the crust while baking.

If you are making a fruit pie, fill and top as usual. If you are making a quiche or cream pie, and need a pre-baked crust, continue with the following steps.

Step 19

This and the following steps are for a pre-baked crust only.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Line the unbaked crust with a piece of clean parchment paper with plenty of overhang. You need enough to draw the parchment together after baking, so you can lift the beans from the plate.

Fill the plate completely with pie beads or use dried beans you save just for this purpose. I have a stash in a large Fido jar that is enough to fill even my biggest pie plate.

Step 20

Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer to assure proper baking, and bake at 450F for 8-9 minutes till crust is set and just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before lifting beans or beads from the shell.

Step 21

Fill the shell and bake according to your recipe. Cover the rim with a crust shield. Remove shield for last ten minutes of baking to permit edge to brown.

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Comments

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  • jmchaconne Feb 28, 2014 @ 1:34 pm
    Wow yum!!!
  • skiesgreen Jan 20, 2014 @ 4:08 pm
    Great recipes. I am with you on wholewheat flour. Unfortunately I am off pies as I don't use my oven now. If it won't cook in the MW I don't bother - it's an age and lazy thing. Well done.
  • Graceonline Jan 21, 2014 @ 7:24 pm
    I understand. Baking requires a certain mindset, in my view, one I did not entertain for many years. Thank you for taking a look.
  • Adamthomsons Jan 08, 2014 @ 2:43 am
    This is a great way to make it
  • Graceonline Jan 09, 2014 @ 4:23 pm
    Thank you, Adam.
  • Treasures-By-Brenda Jan 05, 2014 @ 11:41 am
    Fabulous instructions! I don't make many pies but when I do, I need to incorporate some whole wheat flour.
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
    Thank you for stopping by, Brenda, and a happy New Year to you.
  • Mr-Squidoo-Review Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:49 pm
    Well Done With This Review It Has Got Really Popular!!
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 4:53 pm
    Thank you, so kind of you to say so.
  • DebMartin Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:36 pm
    Okay. I'll give whole wheat crust one more try. Thanks for the tips.
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 4:52 pm
    You're welcome Deb. If you have any questions, any at all, please contact me.
  • ZaraColly Jan 04, 2014 @ 11:32 am
    Sounds yummy
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 4:42 pm
    We certainly enjoy it. Thanks for the visit and welcome to Squidoo.
  • d-artist Jan 03, 2014 @ 11:07 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD! Thanks for sharing this crust recipe...nicely done lens.
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 4:41 pm
    Thank you, and you are welcome.
  • leahjsongs Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:10 pm
    Came back to congratulate you on your LOTD honors. Great job!
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 11:17 am
    Thank you so much, and a very happy new year to you.
  • Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:36 pm
    Don't know if I'm the guy to make this recipe but it does look like it has all kinds of potential. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 11:13 am
    Thank you for your kindly comment. Best wishes for a good year in 2014.
  • seahorse60 Jan 03, 2014 @ 2:43 pm
    Thanks for your detailed instructions! We had almost given up on trying to make flaky whole wheat pastry as ours turns out hard and heavy, but you've inspired us to try again, thanks!
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 11:11 am
    You're welcome, and that is wonderful news! Do let me know how it goes and if you have any questions along the way.
  • Mickie_G Jan 03, 2014 @ 2:31 pm
    Learning how to make my own pie crust has always been a goal of mine. Thank you for this delicious looking recipe that uses whole wheat! I will see if I can use my food processor. If not, I will be buying a pastry blender soon.
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 10:56 am
    You're welcome! When it's just for us and I need to shave a few minutes off the total time, I use the food processor, but I get flakier pastry when I use the hand-held pastry blender. Thank you for stopping by. I'm here to answer any questions you might have along the way.
  • Zeraton Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:45 pm
    looks good to me =)
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 10:52 am
    Thank you.
  • esmonaco Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:14 pm
    Very informative step-by-step, I like whole wheat anything, so I'll give this a try. Your picture looks delicious!! Thanks
  • Graceonline Jan 06, 2014 @ 10:53 am
    Always delighted to find another fan of whole wheat. Let me know how it turns out.
  • Pastiche Jan 03, 2014 @ 11:56 am
    I need to get a pastry cutter. I gave up on making pie crust from scratch years ago because I could not get it right (as your story also reveals). With you excellent instructions and this recipe for a whole wheat crust I'm encouraged to try again. Thanks for a great inspiration and tutorial,
  • Graceonline Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:34 pm
    Thank you Pastiche. I appreciate your encouragement. I find the stainless steel pastry cutter I recommend above much easier and quicker to use than the wire-tined version I had for many years. It's easier to use because it is sharper and the butter does not glob on it as badly as it does on the wire type. Do contact me if you have any questions about making whole wheat pies. I'm happy to help.
  • sybil-watson Jan 03, 2014 @ 10:53 am
    This crust looks so delicious - and your step-by-step instructions are fabulous. Congratulations on your LOTD!
  • Graceonline Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:29 pm
    Thank you on all counts, and a blessed new year to you.
  • Sable Jan 03, 2014 @ 10:38 am
    Your words make me believe that you really do enjoy doing this. I love how you talk about the flour and butter fussion, and how you break it down into small, specific steps with all of the accompanying pictures. A beginner might have to experiment a few time before getting the right mix of ingredients and action before getting just the right dough, but now I can see how easy it might be. Thanks for a great write up! And congrats on another Lens of the Day!
  • Graceonline Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:23 pm
    Thank you. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve with whole wheat flour, but after awhile, you get a "feel" for it and know right away whether the dough needs a little more moisture or a little more flour. Thank you for taking the time to visit. Deeply appreciated.
  • Artinspired Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:39 am
    Congrats on your lens of the day!
    Thanks for the wonderful step by step instructions and valuable tips.
    Make it a great day!
  • Graceonline Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:10 pm
    Thank you so much and you are welcome. It truly was an amazing day. Happy New Year!
  • Blessedmombygrace Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:29 am
    Very complete steps, thanks. I will have to try this. I've been making whole wheat pizza crusts, but have never made a whole wheat pie crust.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 9:02 pm
    Ah! Then your family already enjoys the goodness of whole wheat, so you won't have that hurdle to hop. I suspect you will like whole wheat pies too, but do let me know, if you can. I'd love to hear.
  • susan-zutautas Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:55 am
    Your step by step instructions are perfect and look like they're easy to follow. I've never been much of a pastry maker but I'll have to give it another go with your help. Congrats on your LOTD!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 8:53 pm
    Thank you, Susan. Do let me know if you have any questions along the way. I hope I've taken out the intimidation factor.
  • Merrci Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:51 am
    Congrats on LotD Graceonline! Well deserved. This is one of the recipes I've saved to try--hopefully this month. Love the detail and the great photos. Great job!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 8:29 pm
    Thank you, Merrci. I appreciate your coming back. Wishing you all the best in the New Year!
  • MochRusdi Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:46 am
    what a delicious wheat pie.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:43 pm
    Thank you, and welcome to Squidoo.
  • tonyleather Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:39 am
    Great instructional lens! Well done!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:41 pm
    Thank you Tony! Happy New Year to you and all you cherish.
  • Mr-Squidoo-Review Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:27 am
    Looks Delicious! Well Done!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:41 pm
    Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing some of your reviews.
  • Jan 03, 2014 @ 8:08 am
    I have to try this.. congrats on llotd
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:40 pm
    Thank you so much, Ailyn. I hope you enjoy a whole wheat pie crust as much as we do at our house.
  • StephenJParkin Jan 03, 2014 @ 7:56 am
    I do not often make pies, but when I do i prefer a whole wheat pastry. I will bookmark so that I can return and try it when I next need some. Well done on the LOTD!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:35 pm
    Thank you so much Stephen. Always a pleasure to get a note from you.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Jan 03, 2014 @ 7:15 am
    Stopping back by to congratulate you on LotD! Happy New Year!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 7:35 pm
    Thank you. It was an amazing day, all right! Still catching up. Best wishes to you for a wonderful year as well.
  • jmom Jan 03, 2014 @ 6:29 am
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe. It's not only delicious is also healthy. Just printed out to give it a try.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 6:03 pm
    You are welcome. I hope it goes well, and if you have any problems, do give me a shout. I want this tutorial to make it easy to learn to make whole wheat pie crusts.
  • jannbabes Jan 03, 2014 @ 3:24 am
    Think it taste good. try this recipe if its yum yum for my kiddo...
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:57 pm
    Thank you for stopping by, and welcome to Squidoo!
  • nancycarol Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:56 am
    Congratulations on LOTD on Friday, 1/03/2014... Very well done instructions on this recipe. I don't even know how to add all these photos to this type of lens...and you did it beautifully.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:52 pm
    Thank you, Nancy. What a huge surprise that was yesterday morning. Adding the photos in the new how-to lens format is easy. The option is available in the step-by-step instructions tab. You get one photo slot for each step.
  • libertyduckling Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:18 am
    good read!
  • Graceonline Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:08 pm
    Thank you.
  • veryirie Dec 31, 2013 @ 4:24 pm
    What a fabulous tutorial!!! Thank you so much!
  • Graceonline Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:08 pm
    You're welcome. Thank you for your kind words.
  • leahjsongs Dec 31, 2013 @ 2:39 pm
    Thanks for the instructions and images. I love baking pies so much, but crusts are always a bit tricky for me.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:46 pm
    You know, our grandmothers used to bake pies almost every day during the summer when berries and stone fruits were ripe. They could do it blindfolded. Keep making pies, and after awhile you will discover that the crusts are as easy as the filling. It just takes practice. I'm here to help if you have any questions.
  • Merrci Dec 31, 2013 @ 10:04 am
    Wow, what a great, detailed lens! I would love to make good pie crusts and a wheat one would be even better. Thanks for the instructions with the great photos too. I'll try this for sure! Well done!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:41 pm
    Thank you, Merrci. It is always such a pleasure to find your smiling face on my pages. Let me know how it goes, won't you?
  • FreshStart7 Dec 30, 2013 @ 10:56 pm
    I liked this is very detailed recipe and the reasoning and suggestions given at certain points. I will definitely be trying this wholewheat recipe since it is indeed hard to find good wholewheat pastry recipes. thanks for sharing, Graceonline!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:40 pm
    So glad you will give whole wheat pies a try. I do hope you will let me know how it works for you. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Happy New Year!
  • grammieo Dec 30, 2013 @ 8:26 pm
    Looks really good, but I'm still not a great pie maker, I will leave that to my sweetling, he does it far better than I could ever hope to!
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:29 pm
    I understand completely. So glad you have someone in your home who likes to bake pies!
  • 1angelsbestkeptsecrets Dec 30, 2013 @ 7:36 pm
    Looks very professional. Thanks for the detailed instructions.
  • Graceonline Jan 04, 2014 @ 5:22 pm
    You're welcome. Thank you for stopping by.
  • smine27 Dec 30, 2013 @ 6:30 pm
    I'm going to make a pie today and was just looking for a whole wheat pie crust. Wish me luck!
  • Graceonline Jan 03, 2014 @ 9:23 pm
    I'd love to hear how your pie turned out and whether you found the page helpful. I'd be especially grateful if you found anything missing or unclear in the tutorial. Unfortunately, I have no close friends on which to test it. They're all such good piemakers already!
  • adventuretravelshop Dec 30, 2013 @ 4:22 pm
    It looks a bit complicated but I'm sure it's really tasty because wholewheat pastry can be a bit heavy. I'll bookmark this and have a go later on in the new year. Happy New Year.
  • Graceonline Dec 30, 2013 @ 5:16 pm
    It was wonderful to return to my computer today and find your smiling face on this page. Thank you so much for stopping by. I realize I put in a lot of detail. Think of it as Whole Wheat Pie Crust 101.

    When I wrote this page, I had in mind my young-bride-self, struggling with cookbooks that assumed I knew a lot more than I did about the science and mechanics of baking.

    What I really needed was my great-grandmother at my side, showing me how she worked seeming miracles with rustic whole wheat she ground herself every morning.
  • MSchindel Dec 30, 2013 @ 4:17 pm
    Wonderful lesson! I'm really looking forward to making it. :)
  • Graceonline Dec 30, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
    Thank you, Margaret. If you're new to working with whole wheat, I hope this shows a new trick or two. If not, I hope you'll let me know if I missed a trick you employ.
  • Brite-Ideas Dec 10, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
    fantastic lesson here, thank you! you actually make me want to go and bake right now :)
  • Graceonline Dec 10, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
    I know. I kept wanting to jump up and make a new pie as I wrote this. Thanks for reading my page.
  • kinworm Dec 10, 2013 @ 1:46 pm
    Excellent how to with all those really clear photos. I'm afraid that pastry is one thing I gave up on making because I did not enjoy making it. Your whole wheat crust looks so very tempting though.
  • Graceonline Dec 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm
    I understand completely. For years I felt that way. Now it's a kind of meditation for me, but I don't expect every one to feel the same. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and comment.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Dec 10, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
    The instructions and photos are just as alive as the wheat crust itself. Appreciate such a detailed "how to." Loved what you shared about the flow that enters a joyful baker. Try to buy that in a grocery store! I've never seen it on the shelf in any aisle.
  • Graceonline Dec 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm
    Me either! Thank you so much for being one of the first to visit this brand new page.
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