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Oct 29, 2003 07:32 AM

Smart Balance margarine in pie crust?

  • r

Has anyone ever tried using smart balance margaine in a pie crust instead of hydrogenated fat? Thanks,Richie

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  1. I haven't, but it's worth a try. They do say you can use it for baking.

    But why do that when you can make a phenomenal one with canola oil - see my recent posting for the recipe.

    1. I'd be really hesitant about using a soft margarine in a pie crust. When using solid fats (as opposed to an oil crust) you want the fats to stay solid and not blend in too much. Really, they become little pieces surrounded by the dough, and when they melt in the oven, leave little pockets. That's what creates a flaky crust. I'm not saying it will be inedible, but your crust may be tough because the margarine will blend in too much.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Colleen

        It helps to have all ingredients really cold, I keep my flour in the freezer anyways and also chill whatever fat I am using. And you have to have a REALLY light touch when mixing the pastry, and keep in mind that visible flakes of fat in the dough equals flakey crust when baked.
        I like the flavor of an all butter crust, of course. But when baking for people who have serious dietary restrictions because of heart disease, I cannot use butter with a clear conscience!!
        I find that spectrum spread has a good flavor for pie crust, but based on Laureen J's rec I will try Earthbalance as I bet its way less expensive than Spectrum

        1. re: ciaolette

          You know, Spectrum buttery spread was the first butter alternative I tried for piecrust and it was OK, but it had a gloppy (very soft) texture, which wasn't the best for piecrust and it didn't taste like butter, so I was very pleased to have found EarthBalance. I understand completely about that "clear conscience" issue we wrestle with.

          Now, if we could just substitute that unhealthy white flour! I'm working on it, going to experiment with whole wheat pastry flour (at least half and half)for piecrust and see how that works. I've heard people say it's nutty and delicious tasting--does anyone have any experience with this? Trader Joes's price on both the 1 lb. tub and 1 lb. sticks is $1.99. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

          1. re: Lauren J.

            King Arthur makes a "white" whole wheat flour. Whole Foods carries it and sometimes TJ's. I've not used it yet, but plan to make my annual pumpkin mini-muffins with it. It makes much denser loaves of yeast bread than regular flour, but does nicely when subsitiuted for half, though I've only read this. I should think it would be fine for a quick breads, though. They're pretty heavy, anyway.

            1. re: Marcia

              I should have said that King Arthur sells the white whole wheat flour. They certainly don't make it. Understand it is a different strain of wheat which is naturally white and milder tasting than the usual.

              1. re: Marcia

                Oh, thanks Marcia -- sounds like a great idea for your quick breads. I'll locate some and begin experimenting with piecrust and report back.

                1. re: Lauren J.

                  Also note that Smart Balance just came out with "Smart Balance Plus", which has the addition of phytosterols (similar to what's in benecol - they lower cholesterol.)

                  1. re: Lauren J.
                    Caitlin McGrath

                    I'd skip thw white WW in favor of WW pastry flour. Thw white WW is just as coarse as reg WW, much too coarse for pie crust. My mom makes pie crust WW pastry flour, and people laud her pies. Try half and half; it shouldn't interfere with workability. It's actually a good match, flavor-wise, with fall pies like apple and pumpkin, because WW adds a certain (but subtle) nuttiness. I should qualify, though, that I can't vouch for the flavor of a WW pastry flour/Earth Balance crust, since my mother's are all-butter (a real splurge for her cholesterol-watching self).

                    BTW, I saw Earth Balance shortening and "buttery spread" for sale in Whole Foods (the nat'l chain) yesterday), so there's another source for those without TJ's in their area.

              2. re: Lauren J.

                How about trying wheat pastry flour for your piecrust. I use it for muffins all the time,'s lighter than the regular wholewheat flour.

                1. re: Darlene

                  Yes, I bought the whole-wheat pastry flour to try that out, but I just haven't gotten around to making it yet. I did use the w/w pastry flour in an apple torte recently and it turned out good, maybe a little bit heavier, but I liked it very much. Piecrust using half w/w pastry flour will be my next baking project.

          2. SmartBalance spread makes a fine piecrust IMO. (Please don't call it margarine--it's not to be confused with margarine, which is harmful). I used to be a confirmed butter-only pie crust person, but a family member's health issues led me to experiment with SmartBalance and I liked it alot, until I found something even better.

            The same company that makes SmartBalance also makes a healthier spread called EarthBalance. The oils in EarthBalance are 100% expeller pressed--this means they aren't extracted using harmful chemical solvents and they retain the originial nutrients that industrial refining strips out. As well as also being non-hydrogenated (no trans fats), there are no genetically modified materials (GMO's) in it. The texture is quite hard and the taste is that of good salted butter.

            I actually prefer using EarthBalance to butter now. A few days ago I made a pumpkin pie. More than one person commented on how good the crust was, and I had to agree, it was better than my butter crust. I buy EarthBalance at Trader Joe's (they have tub and stick form now) and Henry's Markets also carries the tub form.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lauren J.

              Earth Balance is great for baking, I have never tried Smart Balance.

            2. Since we use this product weekly for several reasone, the primary one is health, I would like to know if you ever give coupons making the purchase better. I would like to encourage friends who are special to me to change to this too and think having coupons to offer them would be a good step toward encouragement.
              Reply would be appreciated.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Doris Yeager

                Doris, when I first learned about Smart Balance Buttery Spread, I wrote to the manufacturer to get more details about the studies done on it at Brandeis University. They sent me quite a bit of technical info and also a couple of coupons. You might also check the website to see if there is anything offered. Although I have since switched to Earth Balance (same oil blend, same manufacturer) which I buy at Trader Joe's for $1.99 a tub, I've occasionally seen Smart Balance having a 2 for 1 special in the larger grocery stores. You might want to ask your grocer about specials/coupons, too. Good luck!

              2. smart balance makes a very good piecrust. I use half the amount of margarine to all purpose flour---- i.e. 4oz smart balance
                8oz flour
                iced water to mix


                1 Reply
                1. re: Jo

                  It does make a very nice crust, doesn't it? Thanks for the validation! I use less of it than you do and mix the dough in the food processor until just before it forms a ball on the blade--works for me...