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Berlinsbreads

Your favorite "tool" for making Pie Crust

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Given that this is the time of year I feel like making pies, I decided to buy the book Pie by Ken Haedrich. I have a ton of recipes for pie dough but I found his explanations and instructions very helpful. One thing that made me wonder, however, is that he doesn't recommend using a food processor unless it's a large capacity one---the 14-cup Cuisinart or the like. He says that the large one has enough room for the fat to be cut in properly. I have been making pie dough in my 11 cup for years and found this to be an interesting point since I haven't noticed a problem.

I tried making pie crust in my Kitchenaid today for the first time and found that the butter didn't cut down very small. I was using the whisk attachment since that's what the author recommended, noting that this would simulate the cutting in of a pastry blender. I also have a lot of experience doing it by hand, as well. So I'm wondering what all of you prefer? Any tips or experience with these various methods?

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I use the food processer (steel blade) normally for pastry. However recently I've been using the melted butter verion of the oil-based pie crust (recent thread here), which just needs a bowl and a spoon.

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For me, the processer was revalation in crust making. I was convinced I could not make crust by hand. The steel blade in my processer works magic for me . Now, pie is easy.

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I first learned to do it by hand and have never tried any other method. May try it in the Cuisinart one day but doubt that I could get the result I want from the Kitchenaid.

I love light flaky pie crust like my grandmother made and that is what I try to achive.

I do it quickly so that it doesn't have a chance to get too warm.

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I maker pie pastry by hand. It just would not be as much fun any other way. I have never tried making them by machine.

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Well, it sorta depends on how many pies I'm making....but,

if I'm at home and making a couple pies, or one pie, I do it all by hand. I even go to the lengths

of pre-measuring all my ingredients and sticking 'em in the freezer for a half hour beforehand.

I also use my precious precious leaf lard that makes the worlds best crusts!

At work, when I have to make pie dough for eleventy million crusts, I use the big ol' Hobart

mixer with the whisk first (to cut the fat in) then switch to the paddle when I add the ice water.

Makes a pretty nice crust, but not as nice as I make at home.

I've used a Cuisinart a few times.....it's ok.....I can see how you can easily "overdo" it since those blades are so fast and sharp.....just remember to use the "pulse" feature very sparingly.

I've always figured though, if I'm going to use the Cuisinart, I might as well do it by hand, since I can't really make any more pie dough in the Cuiz, than I can by hand. Not only, that, but I'd have to wash out the Cuiz bowl. I'm lazy when it comes to dishes! :raz:

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I used to use a pastry blender when I started making crusts, but switched to the Cuisinart years ago and haven't looked back. I swear my crusts are better now than they were before, and not just by virtue of the experience of time.


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I'm in the food processor camp. And, if I am doing quantities, just do my mise en place for several quantities, line 'em up and whiz 'em up, one by one, without having to clean the food processor in between. Must admit that once I've added the fat to the flour, I dump it out of the processor into a bowl and add the ice water by hand.


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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The Processor RULES. Since I began using it my crusts are the best. (No modesty here).

But I think if you use the processor it is necessary to use frozen butter. Also, I don't cut it into uniform sized chunks which helps promote the flakiness.


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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I'm with Kit on this one. Just line up the mises for a larger quantity. As far as washing the cuis? That's what a dishwasher is for. And the lard? Yeah, it's best, but here in Philly, fresh, high quality leaf lard, which is the only kind to use, is extremely hard to come by.

And one more "tool": For those of you who haven't tried it, European style butter makes a wonderful crisp, flaky crust. A lot of people use part shortening to get flakiness. Personally, I think shortening should be outlawed. Yuck.


Edited by etalanian (log)

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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I was pie crust phobic for many years until I found the cuisinart.

I also just found this recipe that makes a really good hearty crust. I recently used it for a swiss chard and goat cheese tart.

Oatmeal crust

1/2 cup each

whole wheat flour

white flour

regular oats

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup butter cut in small pieces

1 tsp salt

1-2 tbls water( might not use)

process flours and salt, add eggs and butter. Add water thru feed tube until dough comes together. Form into disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 min. Makes 1 crust.

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several years ago i did a summer of pie crust, trying to conquer my longstanding fears. i made 3 or 4 every day, using food processor, kitchenaid and pastry cutter. i did find that finally the pastry cutter crusts always seemed to turn out lighter and flakier. kitchenaid was my second favorite. of course, this could just be me never mastering the timing on the food processor.

my favorite crust these days is made in the kitchenaid. its the one from the bouchon book. you work the butter into half the amount of flour, then add the rest of the flour, then the ice water. this dough is a dream to work with. i'm not sure exactly why, but it always rolls out really easily and evenly and it has great flavor. i use it for both sweet and savory.

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I really like Steingarten's method of making pie crust by hand in The Man Who Ate Everything.

My second favorite method is the food processor (close second). Both methods work very well and are really, really easy, but with Steingarten's I get to look down at people as I brag about my hand-made crusts and credit their flaky buttery perfection to innate skill.

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I live in Manhattan, where many kitchens (especially in rentals, where the landlord is required to pay for heat and water) do not have dishwashers, so I try to use my food processor as sparingly as possible.

For that reason (and because I find the task therapeutic) I use a pastry cutter. I put the mixing bowl and the cutter (and sometimes the flour and butter) into the freezer for a few minutes before beginning.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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My grandmother taught me to make pie crust. The woman, long after dementia had set in and she no longer recognized anyone, was still an incredible cook and baker. One of our favorite stories to tell about her happened during this period. In the middle of making dinner, she went over to the freezer, lifted the lid, and stared into it for several minutes. Suddenly she slammed the lid down, turned around, and with eyes on fire, proclaimed, "Lord God almighty, someone's stolen the eggs!"

Fortunately, her pie crust recipe didn't include eggs. The method: with a fork, scoop out a hunk of shortening (about the size of one fist for a single-crust pie, two fists for a double crust) and smack it into a mixing bowl. Cover it completely with sifted flour and several good shakes of the salt shaker. Use the side of the fork to cut through the mixture, repeatedly, while turning the bowl with the other hand. Continue to work until the mixture is close to uniformly the size of small peas. Splash about a glug of milk into it, and gently work it in with the fork. The "working in" motion was kind of a cross between folding and stirring. Add more milk in small amounts if necessary, just until all of the dough hangs together. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a pastry cloth, sprinkle lightly with flour, knead about 4 or 5 times and roll out. She didn't worry about refrigerating the dough or using chilled utensils, but I do refrigerate it at least an hour before rolling it out.

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I would say it depends on the type of texture I am looking for. If I am looking for a soft unparbaked texure, I use the mixer. If I want a flaky parbaked crust, I use my hands.

I like to use butter as it has more flavor. I don't use a pastry cutter any more. It does not give as good of a texture. I cut the butter into cubes and squeeze one cube at a time with flour in my hand. The flat pieces of butter make a much better flaky texture. I then add ice water and refrigerate covered in plastic wrap. I do not use any other utensils until I roll it out. I roll it out with a whole lot of flour on both sides. I then pick it up on the rolling pin and dust off the excess flour with a pastry brush.


Edited by foolcontrol (log)

I was once diagnosed with a split personality but we are all okay now.

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Your favorite tool should be your mind/brain/eyes for this item. It doesn't matter what machine or if you don't use any machine to make pie crusts. To make a decent pie crust you need to know when to stop mixing the ingredients together, over-working the dough, or adding too much liquid or not enough liquid.

Once you understand what makes a flakey or a mealy crust that should be your guide as to how much mixing of your ingredients you do.

I make huge batches of pie dough and making that by hand would be too time consuming, so I use a 40 gallon mixer for that sized batch. If I need a pie crust at my home for personal use, I might just use my hands only. If I have my cusinart out on the counter I might use it instead, or my kitchenaid.

Just like most items in baking the most important thing of all is understanding the item your making. That's the core of baking I try to empathize here at eG. Understanding proper mixing technique, what to look for, what to avoid, what happens when you do this or that to the item............that's what you need to know/learn. Your tools shouldn't ever really matter that much. Once you've learned about the item you then can manipulate it, choose what you bake it in and use any tools to achieve great results.

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Now, pie is easy.

How easy is it?


Kevin

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain

Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

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I'm in the pastry-cutter camp. That's what I had when I started out making pie crusts and it worked/works for me; maybe I've been too lazy/whatever to try the food processor. Probably don't want to wash the thing any more often than I have to. What makes pie crusts easier for me now is my use of parchment paper instead of wax paper....but that's straying from the original question.


CBHall

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Now, pie is easy.

How easy is it?

It's as easy as . . .


Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

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Your favorite tool should be your mind/brain/eyes for this item. It doesn't matter what machine or if you don't use any machine to make pie crusts. To make a decent pie crust you need to know when to stop mixing the ingredients together, over-working the dough, or adding too much liquid or not enough liquid.

As usual, Wendy, you're right on the money. Our mothers/grandmothers didn't have food processors, and many may not have had even a pastry cutter, yet how many of us have fond and/or idealized memories of what their pies were like?


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I live in California's San Joaquin Valley where we grow the best peaches, cherries, nectarines, etc for pie baking. But it is also consistently above 95 degrees every day.

So the only possible time to have pie crust work out is early AM with everything ice cold. Special tricks include the leaf lard mentioned by "Chef Peon," an unglazed pie dish and fearlessly using the maximum amount of water. Marion Cunningham, I believe, recommends dumping the entire amount into the flour/fat mixture and never looking back.

It seems to work.

P.S. The special pastry flour offered by King Arthur helps, too.

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I use either the Cuisinart or pastry cutter, depending on how bad my carpal tunnel is acting up. Even after working on my crusts for over a year, I am still frustrated by them as something always seems to be wrong (although my husband tells me to "shut up already, it's great!").

I wondered if anyone has tried the method (forgot where I read about it) wherein you start with frozen butter chunks and roll them into the flour with a rolling pin. Supposed to be the ultimate in flakiness, but it made such a mess the one time I tried it I didn't bother again. I can't even recall if it was extraordinarily flaky or not. Anyone else try it?

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      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By pastrygirl
      Anyone have a favorite recipe for chocolate cake using semisweet chocolate?  My usual chocolate cake recipe uses cocoa, but I have some samples of chocolate I want to use up for a workplace party.  Yes, I could make brownies or ganache frosting, or chocolate mousse or chocolate chunk cookies, just feeling like cake this weekend ...
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