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Apple Pie and Lactose Intolerant

kah22's picture

Apple Pie and Lactose Intolerant

A friend calls with me on a regular basis, normally I bake an apple pie, a pretty standard recipe. I use 50 / 50 block margarine and lard.

Now I know that in baking pastry that it's vital that the fat stays firm enough to coat the flour and not have it melt into it, but that is difficult to achieve even after freezing the margarine. 

So I'm looking advice on how to treat margarine instead of butter when making shortcrust pastry, especially for apple pie.  It also struck me that  this could be part of my tarts soggy bottom - the margarine melting to quickly.

Many thanks for help offered.

Janetmv's picture

I’m actually lactose intolerant, but I can generally tolerate butter. My understanding is the higher the fat, the lower the lactose in dairy products. Also dry cheeses are very low in lactose. If your friend is unable to tolerate the amount of lactose in butter, my suggestion would be to try a solid vegetable shortening such as Crisco in place of the margarine. Hope this helps.

kah22's picture

Possible increase the lard to margarine ratio from 50 /50 % to 55% lard and 45 % margarine ?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've seen lactose free butter and bought some. Keeps longer than regular saltfree butter. 

It is also possible to make ghee, and combine 50/50 with Crisco.  Or use butter flavoured Crisco.  

I grew up knowing lard made the best pie crust.

rondayvous's picture

I've made butter. As you likely know, it is the fat removed from milk. Any butter will have an insignificant amount of lactose.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That last tiny bit but I suppose it can be done in water baths following the making of butter.  You'd come very close to making ghee. I believe heating the butter makes it ghee. Do it in warm water would remove the last little bit of protein and milk sugar.  Perhaps some cold water is returned to the cold ghee whipping it in.  I'm only guessing.  Someone should look it up and correct me. 

Janetmv's picture

Lactase enzyme is included in the ingredients, so it would be added to the cream before making it into butter.

rondayvous's picture

The key word is insignificant. Any amount of lactose left in butter is not enough to affect a person who cannot digest lactose.

It is like promoting low-fat oranges.

kah22's picture

I’m with you on this one. Yes the amount of lactose might be very small but when a person is extreme lactose intolerant and well I wouldn't take the risk

Cisco is been touted a possible solution. Has anyone used it in a sweet pie? What proportions?

The thought had occurred to me that I could add an egg to my mix. Would that be the same as egg washing the whole pie?

Thanks for all the replies to date.



rondayvous's picture

“ This means that the lactose content of butter is really low. In fact, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of butter contains only 0.1 grams of lactose.

Levels this low are unlikely to cause problems, even if you have an intolerance.

Butter made from fermented milk products and clarified butter products, such as ghee, contain even less lactose than regular butter.”

1/10th of a gram in about a full stick of butter that is about 3.5/1000th of an ounce.

The Mayo clinic defines lactose intolerance as “ People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk.”

If lactose in the quantities found in butter are causing a problem, then by definition, the issue is not lactose intolerance but something else, since the inability to digest anything in that small of an amount won’t result in symptoms unless there is something else going on.

An example would be the difference between gluten intolerance and celiac desease.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You could crumble a cooked egg yolk through a sieve if you wanted to but using crisco will give you a good tasting pie.  My sister uses it and I have to say she makes the best fruit & pumpkin pies in the family. I agreed with my Dad (94) they are worth sneaking into the midnight kitchen followed by a slice for breakfast.  Her secret was not to add too much water (or distilled liquids) to the pastry if any.  

An egg wash is for crust color and shine. Usually using just the egg yolk combined with a liquid one to one. I tend to fill the half shell to measure and cut the yolk sack with a knife.  Pie crust tend to brown fast, especially on the top edges so edges are often covered with thin strips of foil for part of the baking. The flat center can be egg washed and the liquid ( if used) can vary depending on the effect.  The most color is achieved with egg yolk and a neutral tasting oil.  Yolk & water also popular.  Sometimes a pinch of sugar is added to the yolk and/or a pinch of salt.  All up to you.  Pure yolk makes for a very eggy tasting crust. A thin wash gives shine without too much eggy taste.  A whole egg can be used as a wash but remove the yolk sack and connecting tissue in the egg white or Take a stick blender to it.  Almost all washes make a crust brown faster so have your aluminum foil handy for a quick loose cover if needed.

No wash is also an option.  Brush lightly to remove excess flour before baking. 

Sugarowl's picture

You could just go with an oil based pie crust recipe. It won't be exactly the same but they are still pretty good. Here's one from King Arthur:

I haven't made that one though. I have used the one by Mimi Fix though and it's pretty good:

3.75 cups of unbleached flour (or 2 cups all purposed + 1.5cups whole wheat pastry flour)

1/4tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

3/4cup + 2Tblsp of oil

3/4 cup milk or water

Stir all ingredients together. Don't knead or work the dough after it forms a rough clump. Add more flour if too wet. For pie, divide dough in half and set aside one piece. Roll out first half and place in greased pie pan. Trim edges and fill with your favorite fruit filling. Then roll out top crust and crimp edge. Bake pies for 40-60 minutes at 375-400F degrees. For smaller items, like pop-tarts, bake 10-20 minutes.

mariana's picture

I would use block margarine the same way I make all butter pastry, by making it in a food processor according to this method:

Precautions: put your dough back in the fridge three times: for 10 minutes immediately after incorporating the fat, for at least 2 hours after forming the dough into a disk and wrapping it, and for another 10 minutes after draping it in the pie plate before trimming and fluting the edges.


350g all-purpose flour, divided

25g sugar

5g salt

280g unsalted butter/block margarine, cut into 1/4-inch pats NOTE: For a slightly more tender crust, replace up to 6 tablespoons of butter/margarine with vegetable shortening.

85ml cold water


Combine two thirds of flour (225g flour) with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter/margarine pats evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl. Refrigerate for 10min.

Sprinkle with water. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.

When ready to shape the dough, pull out one ball, set it on a well-floured work surface, and sprinkle with more flour. Use a tapered rolling pin to start rolling the dough out into a circle, lifting the dough and rotating it while rolling to achieve an even shape. Continue rolling, changing the angle of your rolling pin as you go to get an even shape and thickness. The finished dough should overhang your pie plate by an inch or two.

Pick up the dough by carefully rolling it around your rolling pin, using your bench scraper to help lift it off the work surface. Unroll it over a pie plate. Gently lift and fit the dough into the pie plate, getting down into the corners. Refrigerate for 10min.

For a single-crusted pie, use a pair of scissors to trim the dough so that it overhangs the edge by 1/2 inch all around. For a double-crusted pie, at this stage, fill it and drape your second round of pie dough over the top. Trim it to a 1/2-inch overhang along with the lower crust. Either way, tuck the overhanging edge(s) under itself all the way around the pie.

Flute the edges of the pie crust using the forefinger of one hand and the thumb and forefinger of the other. The single-crust pie shell is ready to be blind-baked or filled. For a double-crusted pie, brush with an egg white, sprinkle with sugar, and cut vent holes in the top with a sharp knife before baking.