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Demo: Pie Pastry Crusts


Wendy DeBord
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thanks for all this work, everyone.  one question, as i'm still learning with pie crusts: how do you roll your crusts into a nice circle like that?  i roll mine from the center down, and do a quarter turn every few rolls, but i feel like my crusts are still sort of rectangular, and can be hard to fit into a plate.  any tips? :smile:

Maybe someone else will help by describing this action, please? (I'm not the best person for decribing things.) It's become such second nature to me it's hard for me to see this thru the eyes of a less experienced baker.

I'll take a stab at it... after working long and hard to overcome this same hurdle.

Place flattened ball of dough in center of lightly floured surface. I always roll from the center toward the outside... and I never turn my dough while rolling out the crust.

Visualizing the face of a clock and starting with the 12:00 position, I roll from the center toward each "number", i.e. Center to 12; Center to 1; Center to 2, etc., working my way around the entire face of the "clock", sometimes several times depending on the amount of pressure exerted.

Clear as mud? :raz:

Di

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i roll mine from the center down, and do a quarter turn every few rolls, but i feel like my crusts are still sort of rectangular, and can be hard to fit into a plate.  any tips?

I roll from the center up, rotating about 1/8 of a turn after two or three strokes. I will keep feeling it (picking it up between thumb and fingers) to make sure it's even. If it isn't, I'll work the thicker area a little more.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I guess I work it similarly to jgarner53...........I pick it up frequently giving it turns, randomly so as I'm rolling out I'm keeping the round shape always.. I choose how I should roll the dough to keep it in a circular shape by thinning out the thickest area of dough along the way.

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I use cream cheese dough all of the time for fruit pies. It is flakey, easy to work with and has a rich tang that balances well with the fruit.

7# 2 oz pastry flour

6#cream cheese

6 # butter

2 T kosher salt

Cream butter, add cream cheese.

Add flour and salt- pulse mixer on and off to combine (do not overwork).

Rest overnight.

When I make pie dough I do a modified version of the one I learned at Chez Panisse.

10 1/2c flour

3 # 6oz butter (frozen and cut in small cubes)

1 1/2c crisco (yes, they used crisco)

3 c ice water (with the addition of the juice of two lemons- part of the 3c measurement)

2T kosher salt

Cut the fats into the flour (this will fit in the 20 qt)- until mealy with streaks of crisco.

Add the water and pulse to combine.

Rest overnight.

Like Wendy- I bake my pies frozen. They are ready to bake first thing in the morning, and will be ready for a lunch special. I roll doughs, fill pies and tart pans at the end of my day so that they are ready for baking off right away.

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I guess I work it similarly to jgarner53...........I pick it up frequently giving it turns, randomly so as I'm rolling out I'm keeping the round shape always.. I choose how I should roll the dough to keep it in a circular shape by thinning out the thickest area of dough along the way.

Being a self-taught baker (and Wendy, I know you are too), I don't understand the reasoning behind the turning of the dough. What is the purpose? In my mind, each turn is a risk that the dough will tear. No?

Di

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I guess I work it similarly to jgarner53...........I pick it up frequently giving it turns, randomly so as I'm rolling out I'm keeping the round shape always.. I choose how I should roll the dough to keep it in a circular shape by thinning out the thickest area of dough along the way.

Being a self-taught baker (and Wendy, I know you are too), I don't understand the reasoning behind the turning of the dough. What is the purpose? In my mind, each turn is a risk that the dough will tear. No?

Di

I turn the dough also. I think a 1/8 turn or so each roll ensures that the dough isn't sticking to the counter, and ensures even pressure because you're rolling always in one direction. Not turning the dough means you're twisting your shoulders and rolling the pin sideways, which I find awkward and hard to roll evenly. My 2 cents.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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What purpose does an acid like vinegar serve in the pie crust? My recipe (an old 1/2 butter 1/2 shortening one the my mother got out of Cook's Illustrated years and years ago) doesn't use it, and since I'm always fiddling around with the recipe, I'd be interested in experimenting with a little bit of acid.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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What purpose does an acid like vinegar serve in the pie crust? My recipe (an old 1/2 butter 1/2 shortening one the my mother got out of Cook's Illustrated years and years ago) doesn't use it, and since I'm always fiddling around with the recipe, I'd be interested in experimenting with a little bit of acid.

A small amount of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar) in a wheat dough "shortens" the gluten--breaks the long strands. This makes the dough more tender and helps avoid the "toughness" caused by overworking wheat dough (which creates gluten strands). Pastry and cake flours have less protein, which means less gluten. Some flours (corn, rice, etc) have no gluten, which is a reason some recipes call for replacing some all purpose flour with rice, potato, or corn starches. Hope this helps.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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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?

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.

For fruit pies, try yogurt instead of the sour cream, same result, better taste for fruits.

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DiH, if your dough is tearing that easily, it's too dry. I lift and turn for the reasons JayBassin mentions.

No, my dough's not dry and I don't have a problem with it tearing... I just don't see that there's a good enough reason for taking unnecessary risks.

Di

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DiH, if your dough is tearing that easily, it's too dry. I lift and turn for the reasons JayBassin mentions.

No, my dough's not dry and I don't have a problem with it tearing... I just don't see that there's a good enough reason for taking unnecessary risks.

Di

In my (amateur) experience, I think the greater risk is in not lifting the dough every roll or two. I find if I neglect to lift, the dough will sometimes stick to the counter and tear/bunch as I roll. I find that so long as I'm careful about the turning, and use my bench scraper to make sure the center of the dough isn't sticking, I never tear the dough when I turn it.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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DiH, if your dough is tearing that easily, it's too dry. I lift and turn for the reasons JayBassin mentions.

No, my dough's not dry and I don't have a problem with it tearing... I just don't see that there's a good enough reason for taking unnecessary risks.

Di

In my (amateur) experience, I think the greater risk is in not lifting the dough every roll or two. I find if I neglect to lift, the dough will sometimes stick to the counter and tear/bunch as I roll. I find that so long as I'm careful about the turning, and use my bench scraper to make sure the center of the dough isn't sticking, I never tear the dough when I turn it.

Ahhhh, to stick or not to stick... that is the question. Well, if there's not enough flour in the rolling area to begin with, it's bound to. This is something that is easily remedied... just be sure to notate the recipe accordingly so the same mistake is not repeated. I only do a light sifting of flour over the entire area and it's always been sufficient.

As regards 'to turn or not to turn', I personally view it as a time consuming, unnecessary step as well as over-handling of the dough... but we all have our own opinions/preferences and favorite ways of doing things. That each of us is happy with our individual results is what's important. :wink:

Di

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European Contribution:

Ditto on the rolling technique, I follow Julia Child's method as presented in ther Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I.

Note this demo comes from Europe - ingredients differ slightly, as discussed in a thread

Here.

I herewith submit a demo of a recipe of a pie crust I prepared from an American recipe that was already in the in the RecipeGullet, Here. This pie was a big hit. I had never made a crust with a combination of butter and creme fraiche, and the result was very 'sablee', meaning with the consistency of a cookie rather than the flaky crust. One way in Europe (no crisco available) to incorporate the flaky in an all butter crust is to make a feuilitee or a semi-feuillitee.

Although Sam's recipe calls for two types of flour, American All purpose and pastry, I just used the French type 55 which in the end is a cross between the two. Instead of kosher salt, I used fleur de sel, which, when preparing pies where you want to emphasize that sucree/salee effect, does very well.

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Note this crust is not flaky. However for French tartes this is rarely the goal.

Love love love the demos, Wendy.

Therein ends the demo from the French anglophone.

Again, the recipe for this pecan pie is Here.

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As regards 'to turn or not to turn', I personally view it as a time consuming, unnecessary step as well as over-handling of the dough

I'm not quite sure how turning the dough overworks it. When I turn my dough, I'm not stretching it, just handling it enough to lift it off the board and rotate. Whether you turn or not, you have to roll your pin over all of the dough, right, to keep it even? So it's a matter of turning your shoulders or turning the dough, and as long as you're not stretching it or working it while you turn, it shouldn't overwork the dough.

Rolling it out several times, however, yeah, that's gonna overwork it. (You know, it tears, you're frustrated, you wad it up and start over)

Wendy, didn't you make another pie out of scraps from one of your doughs with equally flaky results?

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I use cream cheese dough all of the time for fruit pies. It is flakey, easy to work with and has a rich tang that balances well with the fruit.

7# 2 oz pastry flour

6#cream cheese

6 # butter

2 T kosher salt

Cream butter, add cream cheese.

Add flour and salt- pulse mixer on and off to combine (do not overwork).

Rest overnight.

When I make pie dough I do a modified version of the one I learned at Chez Panisse.

10 1/2c flour

3 # 6oz butter (frozen and cut in small cubes)

1 1/2c crisco (yes, they used crisco)

3 c ice water (with the addition of the juice of two lemons- part of the 3c measurement)

2T kosher salt

Cut the fats into the flour (this will fit in the 20 qt)- until mealy with streaks of crisco.

Add the water and pulse to combine.

Rest overnight.

Like Wendy- I bake my pies frozen. They are ready to bake first thing in the morning, and will be ready for a lunch special. I roll doughs, fill pies and tart pans at the end of my day so that they are ready for baking off right away.

Generally, how many crusts would each of these recipes make? I was thinking of trying the cream cheese recipe, as I have a lot of cream cheese leftover, but not 6 pounds worth!

And does cream cheese pastry freeze (unbaked) as well as non-cream cheese pastry? Or are there any special precautions one should take with it?

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I would cut it down to 2# cream cheese (by a third). Yes, you can freeze this dough. Since you are adding protein to the dough, try not to 'knead" or overwork the dough. I also stack up the scraps and put them under a piece of fresh dough (not squish them together).

It depends of the size of pie that you are making (11- 12oz patties are a good size for 9- 10 inch pies).

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Does anyone use the fraisage technique of smearing the dough on the board?

I've tried it (using Shirley Corriher's recipe in Cookwise, but I wasn't bowled over by it. It was fun smearing the butter around though. :laugh:

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I've only done that for sucre. My opinion is that you want the fat in small pieces wrapped in flour- to make it flakey. Since you don't generally use sugar in pie dough, I don't really see working the butter to a paste. I like to have the fat as cold as possible, so that the small pieces will get wrapped with flour without creaming into it.

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Wendy, didn't you make another pie out of scraps from one of your doughs with equally flaky results?

I think Karen already mentioned this.........but I too add scraps to other pieces of dough that haven't ever been rolled out. Instead of pushing them all together and making a seperate crust out of them.

If you do mash them all together, you'll usually find them hard to roll out because of the gluten development. If you want to use up your scraps make them into garnishes like leafs to apply to the baked crust or at least re-chill the dough for the gluten to relax again.

No, they won't give you as flaky of results like dough only handled once.

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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

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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