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Homemade Pie Crust or Die Trying
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dexter riley



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:12 am    Post subject: Homemade Pie Crust or Die Trying Reply with quote

Hello, all! I have tried twice to make a homemade pie crust, but both times the results have been...suboptimal. I've tried the Good Eats butter crust recipe, and a different shortening recipe, but each one failed with the same result: a crumbly mess that falls apart when I attempt to roll it out. I think the problem is not adding enough water to the dough, but how much is enough? Damn it, Jim, I'm a molecular biologist, not a pastry chef...I need mililiters, not "It should hold together when compressed but remain relatively dry to the touch." Qualitative descriptions! They hurt my brain!

So, does anyone have any good protocols for making a flaky, tender pie crust from scratch? Or am I doomed to unroll the Pillsbury ones for all eternity?

Aaaaarrrggh,
Ed
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Guest





PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:38 pm    Post subject: homemade piecrust Reply with quote

Here is a recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook. I have used it many ti.mes and everyone raves about my crust.

Single crust pie (just double for a two crust recipe.

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of shortening
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water

Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas. sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl. small amounts of additional water can be added is necessary.
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dexter riley



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you! I'll give it a try!
-ed
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ktexp2



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love butter crusts. The recipe above is fine, just use butter for something different. But it has to be cold and cut into small chucks, and the best way to mix is with your fingers gently squishing the butter into the flour. I start with water and butter first with a little bit of flour and keep adding flour until a soft dough forms a ball, then I add flour until it is smooth (not sticky) and able to be rolled out.
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ktexp2, that sounds like you're mixing the butter really thoroughly. That won't result in a flaky crust at all. That's sometimes fine, even prefered, but for most pies, a flaky crust is better. The flakiness comes from the fact the the butter isn't mixed in very well, so when it gets rolled out, there are basically a ton of layers of butter and flour.

If you want flaky crusts, you need those pieces of butter. Some chefs even leave pieces larger than peas. If you mix/cut until the pieces are tiny, you're not going to get a flaky crust.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1631
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a squishing technique just like ktexp2. You're not trying to smoosh the butter into the flour (like making a paste), you're just trying to flatten the butter into discs and mixing with the flour. This is actually a really useful technique for biscuits, pastry dough, and anything else that needs layers.
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, then I guess I misunderstood/misunderstand the technique. If it works, then keep doing it.
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Taamar



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pie crust is a 3 2 1 dough. 3 parts all purpose flour, 2 parts shortening, 1 part ice water by weight. Perfect for an engineer.

Cut the flour into the shortening using a pastry cutter

until you have something that looks like dried lentils. Add the water a little at a time and try to form a dough with your hands. Knead the dough a few times on the counter, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least an hour (the point is to let the gluten relax).

Flour your rolling board and set the cold dough on it. Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin. Roll the dough gently, and keep moving it, adding more flour so it doesn't stick. to move it to the pan, roll it loosely arounf the pin and lift.

Using more shortening makes a flakier crust, less shortening makes a sturdier crust. I use a butter/shortening/lard blend and a little salt.
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Slugger



Joined: 05 Apr 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've also found that using frozen butter helps when it comes time to make a crust or a biscuit. Using the cutter until the mix is like a bunch of peanuts then just sprinkling the water. I try to handle it as little as possible and find that it works like a charm everytime!
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Guest






PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:34 am    Post subject: use ice water Reply with quote

My mother made the very best crust in the whole world and she (and since other cooks) have taught me to use ice water to make the crust. Also sprinkle a little, mix just a little, sprinkle a little and the mix a little. If you add it all at once, it all adheres to the same area of the flour/fat mixture. I also use a pastry cutter and make sure I have nice small flour/fat peas before adding the water. I also put ice in a plastic bag on my marble rolling board and put my marble rolling pin in the frig before I get ready to roll. But I always make sure that the rolling pin warms a tad and I wipe it free of all the condensation. I hope this helps you!
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Jay Francis



Joined: 14 Apr 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 7:59 pm    Post subject: Cuisinart Pie Crust Reply with quote

If you have a Cuisinart food processor, I may be able to help you make a perfect pie crust. I actually prefer and use Alton's recipe that has some lard in it. There is a book, however, called PIE that has great recipes.

The trick I have found, is put your dry ingredients with the blade installed in the Cuisinart bowl. Then add the fats and put the whole thing in the freezer overnight. When you are ready to make your crust, pulse your ingredients until just blended, then add ice cold water to bring it together. The trick is to have everything super cold.
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Alexandra
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the food processor comments- I've never been able to make a really good crust by any other method (I've tried my hands, a pastry blender, and two knives). I'm sure it can be done, but the other methods requires more skill than a food processor. Next, if you use butter, try using a plugras butter. I use Straus unsalted butter that I've put in the freezer to make sure it stays very cold through the processing. I think the extra fat in plugras butter makes for a better textured crust than ordinary butter. Yes, it's more expensive, but I think it's worth it. Finally, there's a reason that recipes for pie crusts can't be completely precise. Our ingredients aren't precisely made. Flour varies greatly from brand to brand, and even from batch to batch. Some flour will absorb more moisture than others. Water content in butter varies from brand to brand as well. It's impossible to say exactly how much water is needed in any given recipe.
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Yama



Joined: 21 Apr 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, If you're having a problem making crust, the food processor is the way to go. Using Cold butter and Ice water and then placing the flattened ball in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap to solidify and keep the butter from melting after processing and just before you roll it out. Butter is rough to work with because it has a low melting point.
Lard = high melting point and tender crust
Butter = low melting point and flaky crust
Shortening is similar to lard in that respect
I agree with one of the posters about Alton Brown's recipe - it's a good one.
I would try the food processor and shortening to start until you're happy with it and then try the butter - make sure your kitchen isn't hot when working with butter.
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Mary Conner
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:46 pm    Post subject: Easy Pie Crust Reply with quote

OK. If you JUST WANT A PIE CRUST, DAMMIT, this is the recipe for you. It's not fancy, but it comes out exactly the same every time.

Ingredients:
3/4 C flour
1/4 C water
1/4 C shortening (or for an extra flakey crust, use delicious lard)
tiny amount of salt

Instructions:
Start by getting out your trusty fork and a bowl and combining your flour, shortening/lard, and about two shakes from the salt shaker. You do this by mashing at the shortening/lard with your fork until the individual particles are crumb-sized (cake crumbs, not the bread crumbs you buy in a can) or somewhat larger, but not big enough to pick an individual one up. This should take you about 5 minutes max. Then, add in the water and mash/stir the stuff around, until through the magic of a "physical change," all of the water is indivisibly mixed in with all of the flour/shortening/salt. Here comes the part with finesse involved. Flour your countertop LIGHTLY. (Pretend you're in a Fred Astair movie and Fred needs to do a soft-shoe routine, with your dough being Fred Astair and your counter being the dance floor.) Before dumping the dough onto your Fred Astair-worthy countertop, make it into a ball in your hands by kind of lightly slapping it back and forth between them the way you would a softball. After it is in ball-form, keep this up for two to three more times. What you are doing is toughening up the dough so it doesn't fall apart when you roll it out, but you don't want to toughen it so much that the pie crust turns into that institutional glue on the bottom like something from a Robert Orr-Sysco nightmare. Now your dough is ready to roll out. Put it on the FA-W countertop, roughly in the center of the floured area. Also flour your rolling pin by putting flour in the palm of your hand and rubbing the shaft of the rolling pin through it in a distinctly pornographic way. Now, when you roll out your dough, your intended thickiness is 1/4" or LESS. Too thick dough also results in a Robert Orr-Sysco nightmare. So be firm with your rolling pin, making sure to roll over the dough in all cardinal directions so that it more or less makes a big pancake. Roll about 6 times on one side, fold your dough in half, and then in quarters, and gently peel it off the countertop, flip it over, and repeat until it is thin enough. (IE you will turn it over about 3 times.) Fold it up like that again the last time and then you can lay it in your probably-round pie dish. If you're making a chilled pie, prebake the crust in a 500F oven for 10 minutes, making sure to prick holes in the pie crust dough before putting it in the oven. Otherwise, you can just put your fruit or whatever into the unbaked crust and bake as directed by the pie recipe. This crust will turn out tender and moderately flakey, but strong enough to be cut into and support the lifting of a piece of pie out of the dish. If you want to get super-fancy, before baking the pie, use the following technique around the edges after you've trimmed the dough to fit the pie pan:

Make a 'v' for Victory with your index and middle fingers on your non-dominant hand. Place the fingertips of the 'v' on a section of the edge of the crust. Using the index finger of your dominant hand, pull the dough in between your two fingers towards the center of the pie firmly enough so that it remains standing up in this position after you move your hand. Repeat all the way around the crust until you have a nice ripply edge.

Even more fancy-fance:
Brush your pie crust with a beaten egg yolk or some milk for a golden hue after it's baked.

Unbelievably fance:
Make a lid for your pie using the above method and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. (Otherwise, cut vents in the lid so that it doesn't rise up in stupendous glory in order to disappoint all who eat it with a large vacant space between its underside and the actual filling of the pie.)
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Taamar



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can also freeze your shortening/butter/lard and grate it on a box grater. Toss it with the flour then start adding water.
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