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Dec 1, 2010 01:41 PM

What's going on with my pie crusts?

I don't really have the counter space to roll out pie crusts, so I usually buy the ones from Trader Joe's. TJs used to use pure butter in their crusts and have now switched to a mix of butter and palm oil, but frankly I have this problem even with the rare homemade crust and the change in TJs ingredients hasn't made any difference on this end.

Every. Single. Time. I try to make the pie crust look pretty, as soon as I put it in the oven, it melts. I did a beautiful stand-up fluting for my deep dish pecan pie this Thanksgiving, and the whole thing fell - the crust turned into a flat circle around the plate and the tall parts hung straight down off the edges like a dough awning and snapped off when I took it out of the oven. Pathetic. For the pumpkin pie, I decided to forgo the pretty fluting for that reason, trimmed off the excess, and just pressed a fork into the flat dough. Even the tine marks melted away into a flat blob of boring crust. What is going on? The beautiful pecan pie crust was frozen first to try to preserve the edging, but that didn't work; the pumpkin was put into a hotter oven first to try to flash-cook it (400 or 425 for 10 mins instead of the pecan's 350) and that didn't work either. Is it just the Trader Joe's recipe? I haven't made my own crust since we moved to the smaller kitchen a few years ago, but I do seem to remember my own all-butter crusts having similar issues. What's the secret to keeping a pretty edge?

And while we're on the topic - is anyone else having a serious issue with TJ's crusts leaking major oil? I'm assuming it's the palm oil in the new formulation, but that pecan pie, since there was so much crust hanging off, was literally sitting in a massive puddle of oil in its cookie sheet - I couldn't even hold the pie plate on my lap in the car, but had to wrap it in paper towels and put it in a plastic bag because it was covered in so much grease.

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  1. Can't help with TJ's( they are not available here) but the 'problem' with your crust keeping its shape is in the all-butter or butter/palm oil combo approach. Switch to a shortening based crust and the problem goes away. Lard holds its' shape better than butter, too.

    Now, about that all butter taste thing...well, you can't have it all.

    1. Use a combination of lard & shortening...put it in the freezer 15 minutes before making the crust and it should come out flaky with no "melting"

      1. I am a fairly indifferent baker so I cannot comment on the problems with your homemade crusts. I typically cheat and used the refrigerated Pillsbury crusts for my pies. I've never had the problem you report with the TJ crusts. You may want to switch to a different brand of prepared crusts, like Pillsbury.

        1. I can only commiserate, not advise. I no longer buy TJ's crusts. When they were all butter, I had a few in which the butter was positively rancid. I'm guessing the quality control issue was one reason they switched formulas. If I am pressed and don't have time to make a crust, I buy the frozen ones from Whole Foods, then thaw them and put into whatever dish I'm using.

          But if you have room for a cookie sheet on your counters, you probably have room to roll out a crust for an 8 or 9 inch pie. You may just have to put some appliances or whatever is taking up room on the floor temporarily, but I'll bet it can be done if you don't find a ready-made crust you like.

          1. I use all butter but make sure it's very cold, from the ingredients to make the dough to refrigerating the dough at least half an hour before rolling out and then refrigerating well before using. I've only used TJ's crust once, all butter, and didn't have that problem with it. Is your kitchen warm? Are you keeping the dough cold?