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Demo: Pie Pastry Crusts

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#61 Steven Blaski

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:17 PM

The last pie I made, I used the crust recipe from the latest (Sept. 2005) issue of Cook's Illustrated, which they'd intended for use in a deep-dish apple pie but which I used with cherries. The ingredients:

12.5 oz AP flour
1 tsp table salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 sticks butter, cubed (they said frozen for 10 min; I didn't)
3 Tbsp sour cream
1.3 c ice water

They used a food processor method. I have no dishwasher and dislike cleaning that machine, so I made my crust by hand, hence my reason for not freezing the butter. They buzzed the dry ingredients together, buzzed in the butter, mixed together the sour cream and water, and buzzed that in too, half at a time. I whisked together the dry stuff, flattened each individual butter cube with my hands, making sure that at least some of the cubes broke down even more, and then folded in the wet stuff with a big rubber scraper. From there, I divided the dough into two parts, shaped each into a disk, wrapped the disks in plastic wrap, and stashed them in the fridge for an hour or so.

My husband really liked the pie I made, and this crust was a big reason why he liked it so much. Therefore, I'd like to do it again. My dilemma: I don't normally like to keep full-fat sour cream on hand. This recipe only uses 3 Tbsp/batch of crust, which leaves me with lots of leftover sour cream. I suppose I could just make lots and lots of pies or cakes in a brief timespan before the sour cream goes bad, but I don't want to do that to my waistline.

My question: would it be possible for me to portion out the remnants of my sour cream into 3 Tbsp. blobs, possibly in ice-cube trays, freeze the portions, and then bag for later use? I'm sure it wouldn't be much good for eating on baked potatoes or the like, but would my pie crusts suffer, since it just gets mixed with water and added in? I have freezer space for sour cream ice cubes, but I don't have freezer space to store crust for two dozen pies. :laugh:

MelissaH

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I tried CI's new pie crust recipe too and I liked it a lot -- it was almost like puff pastry. I would encourage you to not skip the 10-minute freezing of the (already cold) butter before blending -- I think it made all the difference in preventing over-processing, at least in the food processor, (which I prefer to use because I'm lazy and find it easier). I noticed that this recipe from CI is almost identical to Sherry Yard's all-butter "1-2-3 Flaky" crust in her wonderful "Secrets of Baking" book (save the sour cream - she uses 1/2 t vinegar instead) -- right down to the 10-minute freeze of the butter.

#62 Steven Blaski

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:26 PM

Ah, I see that King Arthur does indeed have it, but only in the "pro" size of 50 lbs. I shop there a lot, but I'd never looked at the pro section.



I think King Arthur has changed their product line recently. If you go to their Bakers Catalogue site, they are selling a "Mellow Pastry Blend" in 3 lb. sizes.


KA Pastry Blend

The only pastry flour I have seen at Whole Foods is whole wheat.

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I've tried their Mellow Blend for pie crusts, which lowers the protein to around 10.3%, but I actually think their regular AP unbleached 11.7% produces a better pie crust -- at least in the all-butter pastry I make. I find it makes a flakier crust -- maybe the extra gluten provides more structure for the butter to do its flaky-layering thing. Maybe the same reason why some bakers call for bread flour when making danish pastry?

#63 Darcie B

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 12:19 PM

A little late, but thought I would add one more technique I hadn't seen here. It is from Shirley Corriher's Cookwise, called "Flaky Crisp Crust." The technique that differs from others is that you use a rolling pin to flatten cubes of butter as opposed to a mixer, food processor or by hand. Ms. Corriher states "Rolling near-frozen 1/2 inch cubes of butter with flour flattens and coats the butter for a very flaky crust."

I had made this a few years ago, when I first got the cookbook, but hadn't made it since. I couldn't remember what kind of result I had so thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it again. It sounds so promising...

Here are the ingredients:
1 3/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Wondra flour
(note: I used 1/2 & 1/2 cake and unbleached AP flour since I had neither bleached AP flour nor Wondra flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter in 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons very cold lard or shortening in tablespoon-size pieces
8 ounces sour cream
1 to 2 tablespoons cold whole milk if needed

She instructs you to mix the flour and salt and roll the flour with butter a few times, chill in the freezer, roll it again, this time adding the lard, and chill again. Then add the sour cream and mix, pat into a disk, and chill again. Next, roll into shape and place in pan, then a final 15 minute rest in the freezer before baking. She instructs using graham cracker crumbs on the bottom of the crust to keep it crispy and nicely browned but I omitted that because I was running out of time.

When looking at this recipe again it seemed to me that 8 ounces of sour cream seemed like a lot. Should have trusted my instincts. Anyway,

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Here is what the cold butter and flour looked like after resting 10 minutes in the freezer as instructed.

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Here is what it looked like after the first go-round with the rolling pin. Gathered it up and rolled two more times.

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This is the next go-round with the rolling pin, after the 10 minute rest in the freezer. You can see the butter forming large flat pieces (which one would think would make the crust quite flaky indeed). Corriher says the butter/flour mixture should look like peeling paint.

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This is the last roll, after adding in the lard. Quite flaky-looking.

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This is what the flour/butter mixture looked like in the bowl right before I added the sour cream.

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YIKES! This is what it looked like after adding the sour cream. Did it really say 8 ounces! Look how wet this mess is!

I decided to proceed with the recipe, hoping against hope that after a sit in the fridge for 30 minutes the moisture would redistribute, leaving me with a better dough.

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One half of the dough after being in the fridge for about 1 hour. Still very wet. The dough is very, very soft and hard to work with. It wants to stick and tear so I added probably 2-3 tablespoons (maybe more) of flour while rolling to keep it together. It tore when I put it in the pie pan and ended up like so:

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Whew! I rolled out the other half of the dough, put in my apple pie filling, and popped it into the freezer as instructed.

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Here it is after 1/2 hour in the freezer, going into the oven.

The final product:
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The crust is pretty flaky but that's a lot of work for a crust that would probably be just about as flaky using a less intensive method. Also, we couldn't wait until the pie was cooled enough, so we had a very runny pie. Tasted good, though!

Edit to clarify instructions

Edited by Darcie B, 28 September 2005 - 12:21 PM.

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#64 chefpeon

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 03:13 PM

The crust is pretty flaky but that's a lot of work for a crust that would probably be just about as flaky using a less intensive method. Also, we couldn't wait until the pie was cooled enough, so we had a very runny pie. Tasted good, though!


Yeah, you're right! That's a lot of work! Doesn't seem too practical. Your pie looks beautiful though! :smile:

#65 SethG

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 09:49 PM

I made a pretty quick apple pie last night/this morning and I used your all-butter crust, Wendy, for two reasons. First, I wanted to see if I liked the flavor more than I like RLB's cream cheese crust; and second, I wanted to see how flaky it would be.

I scaled Wendy's recipe down to 1/8 size, but because I was making the pastry at about midnight last night, I didn't do a lot of chilling in between steps, or put any of the components in the freezer before I got started. I simply followed Wendy's directions, but I tried to be quite quick about it, and tried to leave rather sizable bits of butter in the dough.

The scaling down left some of the measurements mysterious. I used a teaspoon of vinegar, about 2/3 of an egg, and I just added 2 or three tablespoons of cold water--until it felt correct to me. I also used AP flour-- I forgot to use pastry flour.

Anyway, the results were outstanding, and quite flaky! I will never use RLB's fussy freezing and mushing in a plastic bag method again. I also loved the flavor, and I have to disagree with Wendy about whether you can tell the difference in pie crust between butter and other fats. I think you can. Certainly the flavor of the filling dominates much of the time, but one gets numerous opportunities when eating a slice of pie to munch on crust alone. And at these times, there's butter, and then there's "not exactly."
"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;
but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

#66 Beanie

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 12:56 PM

I thought the novices among us might be interested in this photo demonstration of decorative edges for pie crusts. It's from Hormel's web site.
Ilene

#67 DiH

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 02:47 PM

I thought the novices among us might be interested in this photo demonstration of decorative edges for pie crusts.  It's from Hormel's web site.

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Man, that braid would be a pita.


Di

#68 Cedreena

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 11:43 PM

Thanks Wendy. It was me that wanted the oil based hot water crust. My PC has been on the blink and I have not been able to get on here for a few weeks.

#69 forever_young_ca

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 07:48 AM

I am baking a frozen apple pie from the raw state this afternoon. I have read Wendy's demo stating that this is how she does it.

My question is at what temperature do I cook this pie? I think I read that she cooked it for something like 2.5 hours. Normally I cook pie at a high heat for a few minutes, but am concerned that the crust will get too brown if it in the oven for that long at too high a heat.

Thanks for the help.
Life is short, eat dessert first

#70 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 09:30 AM

I bake it at 350F.....no turning the heat up or down along the way. I don't need to cover the top of the pie to protect it from over browning either.

There's another technique you can try if you want. You can bake it closed up in a clean brown grocery bag. Believe it or not it works really well. It insultates the pie from the dirrect heat, the whole pie bakes perfectly even.

#71 forever_young_ca

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 09:37 AM

Thanks Wendy - 350 it is for 2.5 hours I am assuming.......
Life is short, eat dessert first

#72 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 09:58 AM

The time............truthfully I rarely look at the clock when I bake.....It took me that time based on my oven and how full it was.

For you, I'd say you can bake it for 1 hour with-out even checking on it. Then you will need to judge when it's done and it might be 2 1/2 hours or it may be less. For instance if your pie isn't a full as mine was it will take less time to bake........

To know when your pie is done, I always let it bubble over thru the slits I have on it's top. Then I'm certain it came to a boil in the center to set my thickeners.

#73 forever_young_ca

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:03 AM

Thanks again Wendy
Life is short, eat dessert first

#74 Pam R

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:11 PM

i'm having problems. I've made pies for years and been very happy with my crusts. In the last week the 2 crusts I've made have been very tough. The first I made in the Food processor, the second using a pastry cutter. Both doughs had chunks of fat in them when they were done, and both had streaks of fat once they were rolled. I worked the dough as little as possible.

Are there any other reasons why the dough may be tough? There was some vinegar in it as well. Any thoughts?

#75 JayBassin

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:35 PM

i'm having problems.  I've made pies for years and been very happy with my crusts.  In the last week the 2 crusts I've made have been very tough.  The first I made in the Food processor, the second using a pastry cutter.  Both doughs had chunks of fat in them when they were done, and both had streaks of fat once they were rolled.  I worked the dough as little as possible.

Are there any other reasons why the dough may be tough?  There was some vinegar in it as well.  Any thoughts?

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It appears you are an experienced pie-dough maker, so technique doesn't sound like the problem. Was the flour different? Did you switch from low-gluten (cake flour, pastry flour, ap flour) to bread flour?
He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau

#76 Pam R

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:45 PM

It appears you are an experienced pie-dough maker, so technique doesn't sound like the problem. Was the flour different? Did you switch from low-gluten (cake flour, pastry flour, ap flour) to bread flour?

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I always used AP flour. I just mixed up 4 batches that are resting now - 2 with AP and 2 with pastry flour. 2 with vinegar, 2 without.

I realize the one difference with what I'm doing now was that I added 1 T. of sugar. Would this toughen the dough? I know many others use some sugar with no problems.

I'll bake these doughs off in a couple of hours and see how they turn out.

#77 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 06:49 PM

Sugar isn't going to toughen your dough........gluten does.

#78 Jay Francis

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 07:56 PM

Just out of curiosity. I've been making my crusts lately using an Alton Brown recipe that is butter with a bit of lard. When everyone is making their Cuisinart dough, are y'all putting all the ingredients in the Cuisinart bowl, including the blade and putting it all in the freezer overnight? I have found that the extra freezing of everything really works well. However, I might have missed this step above, as I read through the posting kind of quick and didn't access all the recipes. But, try chilling everything down overnight sometime.

Jay

#79 Steven Blaski

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:10 PM

Just out of curiosity.  I've been making my crusts lately using an Alton Brown recipe that is butter with a bit of lard.  When everyone is making their Cuisinart dough, are y'all putting all the ingredients in the Cuisinart bowl, including the blade and putting it all in the freezer overnight? I have found that the extra freezing of everything really works well.  However, I might have missed this step above, as I read through the posting kind of quick and didn't access all the recipes.  But, try chilling everything down overnight sometime.

Jay

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I've never found this necessary. I take the butter cold from the refrigerator, cut it up into dice, then put it back in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes while I measure the dry ingredients. It actually has given me more problems when the fat is super frozen as AB suggests. It's caused me to over process in compensation.

Most recently I've gone back to the KA mixer for making pie crust. I started doing this years ago with the Baking with Julia pie crust recipe, then gradually switched to the quicker food processor method. But after trying Sherry Yard's all butter pie crust, which uses the mixer, and getting such great results, I'm eschewing the food processor from now on. The KA gives you much more control since the process is a bit slower and you can actually *see* the pieces of butter progressing down to the right size. The problem of possibly overheating is also lessened. If you haven't tried the stand mixer for pie pastry, give it a try.

#80 Pam R

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 08:21 PM

8 pies later ... I think the problem was that I was being overly-cautious and rather than over-mixing I was under mixing. So while there were lovely pea-sized chunks of fat in my dough, there wasn't enough fat actually mixed into the flour.

Final pie tonight was perfectly flaky. Thought it was made with 100% Crisco (kashrut restrictions) I was told that I had achieved 'a lard-like crust). I'm assuming that's a good thing? :hmmm:

#81 Beanie

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 08:43 AM

8 pies later ...  I think the problem was that I was being overly-cautious and rather than over-mixing I was under mixing.  So while there were lovely pea-sized chunks of fat in my dough, there wasn't enough fat actually mixed into the flour. 

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I had the same problem over the past few weeks (even though the crusts came out great). But this weekend I made five more pies and mixed the dough just a little longer. It was like a pie crust epiphany. Everything combined perfectly and the dough rolled out easily.

Final pie tonight was perfectly flaky. Thought it was made with 100% Crisco (kashrut restrictions) I was told that I had achieved 'a lard-like crust). I'm assuming that's a good thing?



Yup. It's a "good thing." :wink:
Ilene

#82 amccomb

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:51 AM

Wendy, what do you think of the cream cheese crust?  Have you tried it?  I made RLB's Perfect Peach Pie with the cream cheese crust on Saturday-- sorry, I wish I had pics for you, but I don't.  The first time I tried this crust I thought it was really really great, the second time only so-so.  This time, my third try, I thought it was a good balance of things:  flaky, tender... and yet I think all butter would have tasted better, and I may be imagining things but it seems to me that the cream cheese makes the browning of the pie less attractive.  The crust ends up looking whiter and the browning is more patchy.  What do you think?

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I do own RLB's The Pie And Pastry Bible, but I really haven't worked much from it.

I make sour cream and cream cheese crusts for other pastries............and I find it hard to imagine I'd like those for fruit pies. But I don't know. I'll give her recipe a try as soon as I find an opening in my menus and report back.

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Did you ever try the cream cheese crust? I was thinking of using it for a pumpkin pie, but I am searching for the best cream cheese crust recipe before jumping in.

#83 Marlene

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 07:24 AM

quick question about blind baking a crust. I have beans so I can use those. What temp do I bake it at and for how long?
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#84 SweetSide

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 02:19 PM

Start at 400F with the beans for 15 minutes. (Don't forget to line the crust with foil before the beans -- I've seen someone bake the beans right into the crust = NOT GOOD)

Then, remove the foil and the beans, drop the oven to 375F and bake 10 - 12 minutes more for a partially baked crust and 15 - 17 minutes more for a fully baked crust.

Partially bake if you're going to put the filled pie back in the oven. Fully bake if you are going to fill it with something that won't go in the oven (mmm, chocolate cream pie...)
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#85 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 04:10 AM

I just made some little spinach-filled pastries using a crust made with beef fat--really nice crust. I accumulate beef fat from making stock and saving drippings from steaks and roasts and such.

Cut 8 oz. cold rendered beef fat (by weight) into 2 C pastry flour (by volume, sorry--should have weighed it after measuring, but it needs to be adjusted by feel anyway) with 1 tsp salt. Mix in about 1/2 C ice water and knead briefly, adjusting flour/water as needed. Chill at least two hours before rolling. Roll and fill quickly--it starts melting faster than a butter crust.

You could reduce the salt and add some sugar for a sweet dough. Some people find it a little odd to use animal fat in a fruit pie, but the best tasting cherry pie I've made used bacon drippings in the crust--not as light, though, as the beef fat crust.

This batch of pastries used about 1 tsp. filling per 3" round of dough, folded in half, and baked at 425F for 20 minutes and made around 32 pastries.

#86 ambra

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 08:11 AM

Hi,
After reading through this thread trying to find the answer to my question, I believe that the answer to my troubles is that I am not using enough water. Can someone confirm?

My Problem is that my crust completely falls apart. As I roll it out it cracks- but giant gaping cracks. Even if I press them back together, i can't seem to lift the crust onto the pan with it coming apart in my hands.

Is it the water? I do the basic recipe for shortcrust and I do it in the food processor.

The other big difference is, that I am using 00 flour which is pretty fine.

thank you!

#87 Paul Stanley

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 03:29 PM

Hi,
After reading through this thread trying to find the answer to my question, I believe that the answer to my troubles is that I am not using enough water. Can someone confirm?

My Problem is that my crust completely falls apart. As I roll it out it cracks- but giant gaping cracks. Even if I press them back together, i can't seem to lift the crust onto the pan with it coming apart in my hands.

Is it the water? I do the basic recipe for shortcrust and I do it in the food processor.

The other big difference is, that I am using 00 flour which is pretty fine.

thank you!


I doubt it's the flour. It could be insufficient liquid, yes. That tends to make for very crumbly pastry, which breaks easily. It could also be that you are just over chilling a bit, and then rolling rather too aggressively. Especially if you have an all butter dough, with no lard or shortening, and a cold fridge, this can happen I find. Try (1) forming a flat disk, rather than a ball, before you wrap well and chill, which makes rolling easier. (2) If you are chilling for more than about 40 minutes, remove it from the fridge at least 20 minutes before rolling, to let the fat soften a bit. (3) Make sure you have a well floured surface, so that it doesn't stick, and roll gently at first, with downward pressure, not stretching. Turn the dough often to stop it sticking. And remember that SOME cracking is to be expected, and that you can always patch. It's better to have pastry that is too short than pastry that is too wet ... Certainly don't go crazy adding extra liquid: no more than an extra teaspoon or two at most. You might also try using some fat which doesn't harden as much as butter, such as some lard in the mix.

When it comes to lifting the crust, make sure to do it by rolling the pastry round your rolling pin. No lifting of a sheet!

In extremis, with very crumbly dough, roll out between sheets of wax or greaseproof paper, or cling film.

#88 stuartlikesstrudel

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 03:42 PM

While this thread pops back up again, maybe I will jump in too...

I recently tried out a few different recipes and get some experience making crusts. The pies mostly turned out well, but I noticed that while cooking, most of the pies seemed to bleed out a lot of butter - in the clear dishes, i could see it pooling a bit in the bottom, and I guess "frying" the dough in its own fat, essentially. They definitely turned out flaky, but perhaps a bit too 'crisp' :P

The recipes I used were all pretty standard ratios and techniques. I'm wondering if there is always a bit of this, or whether I have done something wrong with oven temperature or something. I have had the same thing happen with croissants when I made laminated dough - a fair bit of butter melting rather than somehow being absorbed immediately within the dough.

I don't actually know what a great pie crust should be like, i know what I like but I don't know if i've ever tasted a crust that is said to be perfect, so it makes it a bit hard to know if my results are "correct" or not.





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