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In search of the perfect pastry crust


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208 replies to this topic

#31 Suzanne F

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 03:34 PM

Coconut oil? :shock: :blink: I thought that's supposed to be TERRIBLE for you! (But I could be wrong. :blush:)

#32 elyse

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 03:57 PM

Me too. I thought coconut oil was like cement in your arteries. I certainly don't go the healthy route, but coconut oil scares me a bit.

#33 Jim Dixon

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 04:17 PM

Coconut oil is actually one of the most healthful fats around. I don't have time to get into it right now, and it's worthy of a new thread.

The bad rap on the so-called 'tropical oils' was a very successful marketing effort by the soy industry. Guess which oil is supposed to be better for you?

more later...

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#34 elyse

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 04:20 PM

Zat right? Hmmmm. Do tell. Always interested in how I can incorporate better tasting fat into my diet.

#35 col klink

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 07:18 PM

The pie was a big hit with everyone last night, we almost ate it all after gorging ziti. The crust had a decent texture. Next time I'm going to try 1 cup butter to 1/2 cup crisco for more flavor. Unfortunately I don't have any rendered bear fat!

Nightscotsman, I'd love a lesson on crimping. I first tried to pinch the edges but that was going nowhere pretty fast so i just pressed down (lightly) with a fork.

What is the eggwash supposed to be? Just yolks? Just whites? I used a mixture because I couldn't remember.

Jim, I'm happy to make your mother proud!

#36 ronfland

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 08:14 PM

I use egg white with a little water to "waterproof" the bottom crust before filling with fruit. I use whole egg with a little milk to brush the outside of the assemble pie before baking - fwiw.

#37 laura

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 10:35 AM

Stellabella. I'm coming in late to this, but depending on the kind of pie. you wish to make . F or instance,, apple pie, needs a flaky, buttery crust. I have been using this recipe for many years and it always works. It's in the sept/oct 94 Cooks Illustrated "Perfect Pie Crust". As others have mentioned this too is a mix of butter and crisco. You need that to achieve flavor(butter) flaky(crisco). Good luck.

#38 Piper

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 12:18 PM

Check out the website grandcentralbaking.com on the recipe file has a fine all butter pie crust with good directions.

#39 nerissa

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 03:11 PM

Has anyone read Elmert Grossman's article in the March Saveur about the search for pig lard to make the perfect pie crust? He went looking for the fat next to pig's kidney; he had always used shortening because his family kept a kosher kitchen and according to a family recipe, but wanted to stop because of its hydrogenated oil content.

I agree- I think we should start a new thread about coconut and other oils and their merits. I had always thought it was bad for you because of its hydrogenated oils.

#40 col klink

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 04:13 PM

He went looking for the fat next to pig's kidney . . .

Isn't that caul fat?

edit: I'm about to make my second attempt at pie crust but I'm switching the proportions of butter and crisco. I'm also going to use table salt instead of Kosher, the Kosher hardly dissolved and you were left every once in a while with a big grain!

Edited by col klink, 14 February 2003 - 04:15 PM.


#41 Jim Dixon

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 05:17 PM

Nan, my mom and the supplier of pie, is making a coconut oil-butter crust pie this very minute. I'll report back later.

And sorry for the cryptic post about coconut oil. I'm reading The Good Fat Cookbook (thanks to Bux) and it espouses the use of all naturally-occuring fats as being more healthful (reinforcing my own ideas).

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#42 trillium

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 06:06 PM

Nan, my mom and the supplier of pie, is making a coconut oil-butter crust pie this very minute. I'll report back later.

And sorry for the cryptic post about coconut oil. I'm reading The Good Fat Cookbook (thanks to Bux) and it espouses the use of all naturally-occuring fats as being more healthful (reinforcing my own ideas).

Jim

A nice easy place to start reading about natural coconut fats (vs hydrogenated, which the studies used) is on Kasma's website. I've decided I'm an all butter crust person myself. Whatever you do, don't try palm oil (also solid at room temp), I tried it when searching for a Crisco substitute. It made the most vile crust I've ever had the misfortune to make.

regards,
trillium

#43 col klink

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 02:53 PM

Last night's pies:

Posted Image

Starting from the lower left corner and going clockwise: blueberry, lemon cheesecake, rhubarb, curry chicken savory, and lemon.

I made the savory pie. There was also carmelized onions, mushrooms and peas. Sauteeing was done with duck fat and the gravy was duck fat and smoked turkey stock.

I also used duck fat in the crust but it was very difficult to manage since it's not exactly a solid at room temperature. I ended up adding more flour to compensate. I'm still finding it difficult figuring out exactly how much water to add. Last night I added just enough so that it formed a ball and set it in the fridge for two or three hours but it was still very difficult roll out and not break. I ended up breaking the dough apart and spraying it with a mister until I could roll out with any decency. It turned out to be a pretty decent crust but I can't wait until I no longer need to compensate at the end and it's second nature.

#44 Jim Dixon

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 03:05 PM

That's quite the pie-fest there klink...

But thanks for reminding me (by bumping this up) that I was supposed to report on the coconut oil crust. I liked it, Nan didn't. She said it was a little harder to handle than her usual crisco and butter crust, and she didn't like the slightly coconutty flavor.

I thought the flavor was okay, but the texture wasn't what I was used to...a little harder, maybe.

I don't think ingesting the occasional hydrogenated fat is doing much damage, but I'm still going to try to convince Mom to keep experimenting with the coconut oil...maybe blending with butter. Of course I could probably just make them myself, but she's right down the street....

Jim
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#45 elyse

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 04:26 PM

Glad to hear you guys are still working on pie.

Klink, what are you rolling your crusts on?

Jim, was the coconut oil frozen? Maybe that would help. And you could chill the rolling space too. You too klink.

Keep me posted?

#46 col klink

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 05:33 PM

I've been rolling on my butcher bloc. However, I might have some marble that's big enough but I doubt it.

#47 elyse

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 06:49 PM

Wax paper or plastic? They've always been a big help to me. Actually I use wax because it's slightly more environmental. I should look for some sturdy plastic to reuse and clean.

You could also try putting a baking sheet in the freezer and rolling on that if the marble's too small.

Edited by elyse, 20 April 2003 - 06:50 PM.


#48 col klink

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Posted 17 June 2003 - 05:36 PM

My last pie attempt was basically a disaster. I had spending so much time worrying about the crust that this time I completely neglected the filling. NSM told me that you don't have to thaw frozen fruit because they'll be basically cooked if you just heat them up in the pie, which is perfectly true. So I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately for me (and the pie, an those who tried the pie), though the frozen blackberries I used were perfectly fine in the finished pie, since they hadn't had a chance to thaw and release their juices, the tapioca I was using didn't have a chance to soak up all of the excess liquids that would've been released had I let the fruit thaw. The pie ended up with the tapioca cooked before it had a chance to soak up all of the liquid and the pie was very runny. :wacko:

Thankfully the pie crust came out fine!

#49 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 17 June 2003 - 07:45 PM

I have the perfect pie crust recipe. You'd have to try to make a mistake with it, it's so fool-proof. It doesn't look that good on paper reading it, and you can smell the vinager in the raw dough. BUT I promise you it's the best crust recipe out there (no you won't taste or smell the vinager in the finished product).


It's a large recipe, but you can break it down to what ever size you want: As is, it fills a 20 qt hobart, that's about 12 double crusted pies.

6 lbs fat

(you can use all butter or 1/2 shortening or all shortening, it tastes good with any choice- I use 75% butter to 25% shortening)

9 .5 lbs ap. flour

mix together until the fat is pea sized not finer, set aside.

In a large measuring cup mix together:

6 lg eggs
5 tbsp. salt
2/3 c. apple cider vinager

*****This is important*******

With those ingredients (eggs, salt and cider) in your measuring cup, then add enough water so it comes up to measure 6 cups.

Dump the liquid into the flour and fat combo, mix to incorporate and it's done. You can work with it right away, although it's easier to handle when it's cold.

If you don't use this recipe, one of the most important things that's over looked (after which fat and using a light hand to cut it in) is your moisture. If everything was done perfectly (cutting in your fat) and you add too much water you'll loose the flake. If you don't add enough, it will have a nice flake, but be very hard to work with (ripping as you roll it).

Anyway, I hope you'll try this recipe and agree with me about it's taste and ease. Let me know if you try it, o.k.?

Edited by Sinclair, 17 June 2003 - 07:56 PM.


#50 phaelon56

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:32 AM

Okay folks... time for true confessions. It's a bit humbling to admit this in the presence of so many pastry pros and seriously advanced amateurs but until a few weekends ago I had never made pie dough from scratch. My method had always been to use Pillsbury Pie Crust Sticks. They look like a stick of butter - one simply adds water and mixes to get a ball of dough suitable for a 13" round. My long standing trick of replacing one of the tablespoons of water with a tbsp of orange juice really seemed to help. I only make pies once a year or so (pecan pies at Christmas) but people always raved about the crust.

Now that I have a "real" kitchen and am immersed in eGullet culture it seemed time to make my own dough. I used the dough from this epicurious.com recipe

Piled High Peach Pie

although my pie included both blueberries and fresh peaches. The dough seemed easy enough to handle when I rolled it out after being chilled. It seemed a bit inflexible yet didn't crack. It browned nicely and tasted fine - not too heavy or overly dense. The issue I had with the result was a lack of flakiness. The dough I made previously from the pie crust sticks was markedly flakier.

I'm hoping you more experienced folks can suggest some tips to improve my techniques (if it includes a different recipe that's okay too). I do have an accurate kitchen scale if that helps (accurate to 1/10 gram). One thing I know I could have done differently - it called for chilled vegetable shortening to be cut into the dough along with the butter. I had to run out to buy Crisco and just put a small bit of it in the freezer for fifteen minutes before using - it most likely was not chilled enough. The only mixer I have is a cheap hand mixer, thus I followed the suggestion of mixing with my fingertips but never achieved a true cornmeal texture. I did get the dough into relatively fine and fairly small clumps it was more like the texture of large risotto grains rather than cornmeal. Might this be my problem?

Here's the pie - by the way - it did taste great!

Peach-blueberry pie
Posted Image

#51 judiu

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:51 AM

:rolleyes: At the moment, the best recipe to beat the crispy/flaky thing is Alton Brown's from the Good Eats show on FoodTV. It should be available on their website, but if not, send me a private reply and I'll dig up the recipe from his "I'm Only Here For The Food" and e-mail it to you. :cool:
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#52 Knicke

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 09:53 AM

Hmmm...can't say from direct cooking experience, but my eating experience has been that pie crust made with lard are a lot flakier...maybe you should try that if you're so inclined?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong!
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#53 maxmillan

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 11:07 AM

After many different crust recipes I've stuck with this one due to it ease of mixing and rolling. It looks very similar to yours.

Yield: double crust

285 g all-purpose flour (2 cups + 2T)
2 T sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
130 g unsalted butter (1 cup + 1T)
75 g shortening (4T)
90 ml ice water
15 ml fresh lemon juice

Occasionally I exchange the all-purpose flour with varying weight of whole wheat, or I add wheat germ, flax seeds etc., making sure not to compromise the gluten with the sharp grains.

I use a food processor to mix this, processing the dry ingredients first, then the cubes of fat, and lastly the liquid. I make two discs and wrap them in cling wrap. This way I can make a lot at once and pull it out of the freezer or fridge when I need them...very handy.

One time I omitted the shortening and made it ALL butter...very yummy. I think I will do that from now on. They both puffed up quite well but was not as flaky as lard crusts.

Lard will give you the flakiest crust and the most heart-blockage. I choose the healthier alternative.

Good luck! :smile:

#54 kitchenetc

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:47 PM

I love cooking with lard, and it's way better for you than Crisco is.

But to your point....I've made crusts with various combinations of butter, shortening and lard. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should actually be able to see distinct globs of fat in the dough. The best crust I ever made was one where I figured I'd ruined in because I had gotten lazy and not "cut into 1/4 inch pieces" the butter before tossing it into the food processor for a quick spin. The more minimally you mix the crust (it should barely come together), the flakier it will come out. Biscuits are the same way.

#55 fiftydollars

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:58 PM

Hmmm...can't say from direct cooking experience, but my eating experience has been that pie crust made with lard are a lot flakier...maybe you should try that if you're so inclined?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong!

I agree about the lard, but I would say that regular lard will taste inappropriately porky in your typical dessert pie dough. If you can get it, use leaf lard. This is rendered from the fat found around the kidneys of the pig and it works wonderfully for dessert pastry.

#56 fiftydollars

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 02:01 PM

Lard will give you the flakiest crust and the most heart-blockage. I choose the healthier alternative.

I disagree. I'll take a tasty fully saturated fat like lard over a less tasty partially hydrogenated (trans) fat like shortening anyday and it can be argued that it's actually better for you...

#57 Brad S

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 02:30 PM

Make an enriched mealy dough for your bottom crust (enriched with egg and the fat cut to a cornmeal consistency) for the top make a flaky dough (larger pieces of fat to form steam and lighten the crust) Use pastry flour because it is the lowest in proteins, so it will develop the least amount of glutens. Also be sure you don't over work your doughs so they remain tender.
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#58 lou_31

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 02:33 PM

My best tips are to keep everything really cold - chill the bowl, the ingredients and keep your hands as cold as possible - I run mine under a cold tap before starting.

Another good technique is the Nigella method of putting the flour and fat into the bowl of a food processor and putting the whole thing in the freezer for half an hour before whizzing it all up.

#59 MsMelkor

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 03:00 PM

I put the dry ingredients in the food processor, then pulse in chilled butter (cut up) and then chilled shortening. It's quick and I don't have to worry about my hands heating things up. Also I use as little (very cold) water as possible - just enough to bring the dough together.
allison

#60 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 03:06 PM

Lard will give you the flakiest crust and the most heart-blockage.  I choose the healthier alternative.

I disagree. I'll take a tasty fully saturated fat like lard over a less tasty partially hydrogenated (trans) fat like shortening anyday and it can be argued that it's actually better for you...

Many commercial lards are partially hydrogenated, so you both may be right...err, wrong...well, whatever :biggrin:

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