Recently, I read a newsletter about pie crusts made with olive oil. This was intriguing because my family has always sworn by pie crusts made with shortening. Because of this curiosity and the holidays being right around the corner, I decided to add a lab titled, Pie Crust: Experimenting with Fats so students could see and experience the similarities and differences first hand. Note: The pie crusts can be taste tested with or without a filling. If using a filling, I recommend a simple chocolate pudding with some whipped topping and sprinkles!
- Do all pie crusts taste the same? Explain: One ingredient that may have an overall effect on the appearance, taste and texture of a pie crust is the fat used to prepare them.
- At this point in the lesson, students should be very familiar with ingredients and their functions. If you have not covered this material with them, you may want to use either the SKETCHNOTES: Magnificent 7 Baking Ingredients lesson or the Basic Baking Ingredients: What’s My Function? lesson to do so.
- If you want more background information on the various fats, here’s a great article titled, “Guide to Pie Fats–How to Make the Best Pie“.
- Assign each kitchen a different fat to use to prepare their pie crust. The fat options are butter, oil, lard and shortening. If you only have 3 kitchens, you can choose which three you want to experiment with.
- Once students have their assigned fat, give them the Evan’s 3-2-1 Pie Crust recipe and have them follow subbing in their assigned fat (note: all fats follow a 1:1 ratio when substituting).
- When recipes have been decided, it may be helpful, if rolling pie crusts, to show them this YouTube video titled, “How to Roll Out a Pie Crust” by King Arthur Flour. If students are pressing their pie crusts into the pie plates, this YouTube video titled, “How to Press a Pie Crust” by Real Simple may be helpful.
- Because pie crusts are baked empty and potentially filled later with chocolate pudding, it is important to talk them through blind baking. This can be done by showing the YouTube video titled, “How to Blind Bake Pie Crust” by King Arthur Flour.
- Each group prepares and bakes their pie crust according to their assigned method and create labels identifying their incorporated fat.
- If no filling is being used, the pie crusts are sampled and descriptively evaluated. If pie crusts are being filled, students complete that first. When ready, students fill in their chart as they move from group to group. Students were encouraged to use descriptive words in place of the traditional good, bad, etc.
- After cleaning up, students answer the follow up questions based on their notes, experience and evaluation. These are discussed in class and a class tally of preferred pie crust from this experiment is created on the board to see which was the class favorite.
- Evan’s 3-2-1 Pie Crust Recipe (PDF)
- Lab Experiment: Effects of Fat in Pie Crust (PDF)
- Effects of Fat in Pie Crust Follow-Up Questions (PDF)