This easy pie dough recipe uses activated charcoal to give this pie crust a coal black look – dye free! t’s perfect for the halloween holiday or anytime you’re looking for a fun and different pie!
Using Activated Charcoal in Food
Activated charcoal has been all the rage the past couple years. It is pretty flavorless but gives food a dark black color without food coloring. It’s often used in cleanses for its detoxifying powers. Make sure to buy a food grade activated charcoal which is sold at Whole Foods and on Amazon.
The beauty of making a black pie dough with activated charcoal is its simplicity. You can make any pie dough recipe black by adding a little bit of activated charcoal. People seem to expect chocolate flavor, but this activated charcoal crust tastes just like regular crust, although a little denser. This is such a fun pie crust, perfect for Halloween!
Making Black Pie Crust
This recipe uses vodka to keep the crust flaky and tender. When using this method, it is best to use a food process. You can add the charcoal, salt, sugar, and part of the flour and process until it’s combined. Next, you’ll spread the butter and shortening around the blade and mix it until just starts to clump, about 15 seconds. You don’t want to over mix it. Add the remaining flour charcoal mixture and pulse 4-6 times until combined.
Once it’s combined you transfer the mix to a bowl and add the the chilled vodka and water. Using a spatula or your hands you’ll want to combine the mixture. It might seem a little more wet than a normal pie crust, but this is fine. Form one disk for a single pie crust or a two disks if you made a double crust. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days in the fridge. Follow the instruction of your pie recipe when rolling out and baking the dough. Be sure to mix some charcoal into any flour that you use to roll out the dough.
Tips for Making Black Pie Crust
- The below recipe makes a double crust. If you’re making a single crust pie, you can half the recipe.
- You can add activated charcoal to your favorite pie crust recipe and get the same black pie crust result! I recommend 1/2 tablespoon activated charcoal per single pie crust or 1 tbsp for a double crust.
- Watch the baking time. Since the crust is so black it can be hard to tell if you’re over baking it.
This pie crust pairs beautifully with pumpkin pie and is perfect for the holidays. You can check out my recipe here.
Please note, while activated charcoal is generally considered safe, it can interfere with certain medication so check with your physician if you’re taking any prescriptions. You can read more about it here.
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Black Pie Crust
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 12 1/2 ounces
- 1 Tbsp food grade activated charcoal divided in half
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter 1 1/2 sticks, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup vodka cold
- ¼ cup cold water
- Extra flour and charcoal for rolling
- Add 1 ½ cups flour, salt, sugar, and ½ Tbsp food grade activated charcoal powder in a food processor and pulse until combined.
- Spread the butter and shortening around the blade.
- Pulse the mixture until it starts to clump, about 15 seconds.
- Scrape down sides with a spatula and redistribute the mixture evenly around the blade.
- In a separate bowl, add remaining ½ Tbsp charcoal to the second cup of flour and mix. Add the grey flour/charcoal mixture to the food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture begins to form a ball of dough. About 4-6 one second pulses. Do not over mix.
- Empty the mixture into a bowl and add the chilled vodka and water on top.
- Using your hands or a spatula, mix the dough together. It will feel slightly more wet than normal dough. This is okay.
- Flatten the dough into two round disks. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. If frozen, let defrost completely in the fridge before using.
- When ready to use, roll out and bake according to your pie recipe and instructions.