Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

crumbly pie dough


amccomb
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ok, so I decided to take the plunge and try to make an apple pie today. I am following the leaf lard recipe in the pie crust demo. I weighed my lard and cut up my butter, measured out my flours and such and stuck them in the freezer, put my water/vinegar in the freezer...

half an hour later, I used an pastry cutter to cut the lard and butter into the flour, which seemd ok, and then came the part that always messes me up - I sprinkled the water over the flour/fat mixture while tossing with a fork, but it didn't come together - it was still very crumbly. So, as I always do, I added some more ice water, then a little more, a little more...until it sticks togehter when I squeeze it. Now I'm worried that I overworked it, and it's still not sticking together unless I squeeze it all, which makes me think my hands are just melting the fat. So, I put the crumbly dough on plastic wrap, wrap it up, and kind squish it together to form disks.

They are in the fridge now, waiting for me to finish the apple filling.

Why do I always end up adding more water, and still end up with crumbly dough? Is it because I am so afraid of overworking the dough in the sprinkling phase that I don't toss aggressively enough? Is it that I just really need more water? Is squeezing it together undoing all of the care I took to keep things cold do the fat doesn't melt into the flour?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a great chapter in Jeffery Steingardens book "The Man Who ate Everything" about making pie dough, It's kind of long, but the gist of it is that he broke up the lard/butter in the flour with his fingers into chunks ranging in size from coarse meal to olives, sprinkle water, mixing with fork, until it gathers into small chunks, then gather up the chunks and squish them together. It's a really good book to read, and i probably missed something important, so check it out

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think your worrying too much as most problems that are encountered here.

I usually add 80% of the water straight in and mix, then add accordingly. Basically you want to add just enough to bring it all together. A little kneading is necessary to bring it together. Instead of crumbles you should end up with almost streaks of butter. Basically just fold the dough together as if you were folding a mousse by hand until it just barely comes together. You want it to be able to hold itself together with a semi-smooth surface but you dont want it to sticking to your hands (after properly kneaded, it will stick in the first stages until the flour has absorbed).

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why do I always end up adding more water, and still end up with crumbly dough?  Is it because I am so afraid of overworking the dough in the sprinkling phase that I don't toss aggressively enough?  Is it that I just really need more water? 

I think it's Alton Brown who suggests putting the water into a small spray bottle, and then misting it evenly over the flour/fat mixture, to distribute it initially more evenly. You could try this technique.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

O.k., I hope I can make further sense of this issue...... Technically I can't speak for the specific recipe your trying that comes from Chefpeon...........I can only tell you my experiences.

I use cold butter and rarely do I refridgerate the whole mixture before I mix the liquids in. I find that if the butter is too cold that I will need more liquid in my crust to pull it together into a dough. I also use cold tap water and don't worry about it being close to frozen.

What happens is: a certain amount of your peas sized butter chunks will blend in as your forming it into a mass. That adds to your over all moisture, pulling the dough together into one mass. When that doesn't happen because it's sooo cold and none of your butter is breaking down, then I need to add more water too.

Also when I add my liquid to form the dough. I drop it in all at once, then mix quickly. If you drop in the liquid and let it set, it will get absorbed into the flour it makes contact with imediately. Giving you clumps in your dough that are too soft (from absorbing all the water) and patches that are too dry (and or crumbs left in the bottom of your bowl because you don't have any liquid for it to get absorbed into).

Alton Brown is no baker, sorry, but it's true. If your using a spray bottle your thinking too darn hard about this.

I used to hold back a percentage of my liquids as Chantiglace mentions. But I find that if I have a good recipe where my liquids are right on, theres no need to do that. AND doing so can cause your dough to have an uneven absortion.......making some spots in your dough drier then others.

Theres a certain amount of confidence you should have and just mix the whole thing together (forget about what if's). So at the worst you may have a tbsp. too much or too little liquid........learn from it, so the next time you hit your liquid level and mixing technique. It may take you a dozen or so times making pie dough before you start getting it perfected. It did me..but then you'll get the feel for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's always been my understanding that the various kinds of flours absorb liquid at different rates. That, and perhaps humidity, could be part of what's going on here. I really wouldn't worry too much about it.

A couple of years ago, I made a pie crust that tended to fall apart, because I hadn't mixed in enough flour and liquid. I kept having to press it back together as I was rolling it out. However, the family raved about that piecrust. It was one of the flakiest and most tender they'd ever had. Go figure. :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think wendy's advice is right on. The reason why i hold back 20% is I use a food processor not my hands so I follow visual signs not touch. Basically when the dough forms a ball all at once its done, even if theres some crumbles at the bottom, stop mixing. Take the dough out knead it untill all the crumbles are incorporated and wrap it up. I never use ice water either, always cold tap, nor do I refrigerate(or heard of) my dry ingredients. the butter is cold enough to me.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your unbaked dough is too "crumbly" and doesn't come together, you need more liquid. I think it's just that simple. I agree with both Wendy and Chianti's advice.

This is your first pie, yeah? Don't worry too much (or "overthink" as Wendy says). Making pie dough isn't nearly as scary as people seem to think it is. And it's really not a bad thing to actually handle the stuff a bit.

I'd suggest a food processor, though, if you're worried about that. I always use a food processor for my pie doughs. It's far quicker. And then I dump the stuff on the counter and shape briefly before wrapping and cooling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a large fork (like a serving fork or salad fork) to toss the flour/fat while sprinkling the water over it, until the mixture just starts to stick together a little. You can quickly pick up a small amount, place it on the work surface and gently press it with the heal of your hand to see if it stays together.

Then I empty the mixture out onto a cold surface (I use marble) and knead it a few times with no additional flour. When I do this I use a bench knife to scrape it up from the counter and fold it over itself, then I use the floured heal of my hand to push the dough away from me. Scrape, fold and push again, repeating this three or four times until the dough is mostly unified. I flour the work surface only when I am rolling out the dough.

The less you handle the dough, the more tender it will be. The less additional flour you use, the better off you are. There is surprisingly more leeway in this process than most people realize. Don't obsess about this. Your crust will probably be wonderfully flaky and tender.

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...