Butter bypass


It’s not that I don’t like butter, on the contrary. I just don’t want to clog my arteries or those of the people for whom I care and cook by using butter when it is not absolutely necessary.

Butter is quintessential to many basic recipes, such as béchamel sauce, and my view is that if you don’t want to or cannot make them with butter it’s better to stay away and make something else than coming up with a weird concoction that is neither fish nor fowl.

That brings me to my long quest for a low-fat pie crust. I cringe when I see recipes that call for 1 stick, or even 1½ sticks butter – for nothing but the crust! Sure, pie crust needs to have the right consistency, flaky at best, but oftentimes it is a mere receptacle for the filling. So why would I dump 56 grams of saturated fat into that shell?

I have been trying out all types of alternatives for pie crust with butter, from using organic shortening, which has a certain aftertaste and is still high in fat, to yeasted pie crust, which only works for savory pies and should be eaten very fresh.

In German cuisine there is a crust made with Quark and vegetable oil (called Quark-Öl-Teig). It is low fat, very pliable and tastes still good after a day or two. Quark is unfortunately rarely available in the United States but I have found that Greek yogurt can be a very suitable substitute.

When I made this pie crust today, I marveled again about how easy it is to roll out (rolling out pie crust is definitely not one of my strengths). Another advantage: this crust can be rolled out right away, no chilling required like for piecrust with butter or shortening.

Unless I flip-flop about butter one day, from now on I will make pie crust this way.

Low-Fat Pie Crust with Greek Yogurt and Oil

For a 9-inch to 10-inch piecrust

1/3 cup (3 ounces / 80 g) 0% Greek yogurt), more as needed

2 tablespoons 2% milk

2 tablespoons oil (canola, sunflower, or any other oil with neutral flavor)

2 tablespoons sugar (omit in savory pies)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit in savory pies)

Pinch of salt

1 cup + 3 tablespoons (6 ounces / 165 g) flour (all-purpose, whole wheat flour, or whole grain spelt flour, or a 50:50 mix of whole grain and all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spoon until they form a ball. If the mixture is dry and crumbly, add more Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time.

2. Transfer to the countertop and knead with your hands until smooth.

3. Roll out on a lightly floured countertop, or between two sheets of wax paper. Grease pie pan and line with the piecrust. Fill and bake according to recipe.


5 thoughts on “Butter bypass

    1. I don’t think the crust is good to be made ahead of time, because once you add the baking powder, it will start rising. And the crust really tastes best the same day so I wouldn’t bake it to fill it later neither.

      1. Thank you. I am so happy with this recipe, very fast and easy to work with. I used 100% whole wheat flour, and had good results.

  1. According to an online conversion site, 6 ounces of all-purpose flour is 1-1/3 cups, not 1 cup + 3 tablespoons. Which amount is correct for the recipe?

    Is the dough meant for a single (bottom) crust or a double (top and bottom) crust?

    I would like to use the recipe with my homemade quark, which I assume could be substituted for the Greek yogurt.

    I have been looking for an English language translation of a quark oil dough for a long time!

    1. I am using Cook’s Illustrated flour measurements, where 1 cup = 5 ounces and 1 tablespoon = 1/4 ounce, hence 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons. But as long as you approximate 6 ounces, less flour is fine too, I often add a bit more Greek yogurt when the dough is a bit dry, to make the dough more pliable. The recipe is for a single bottom crust. And yes, Quark is ideal, that is what the original German recipe uses. Greek yogurt is only an easy substitute in the US. The only thing about using homemade quark in German baking recipes is that in fillings and toppings does not hold its volume as well as “real” Quark from a dairy but in a crust it does not matter. For more you might want to check out the Quark post on my other blog: http://spoonfulsofgermany.com/2013/07/

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