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stellabella

In search of the perfect pastry crust

209 posts in this topic

Well here's a before picture:

fcab7aec.jpg

And here's a picture after 35 minutes in a 400F oven:

fcab773f.jpg

There's an extra "free form" pie with the leftover strawberry/blueberry filling. A taste of the filling that dripped out proved to be quite tasty and as about as thick as I would like. I tasted a little bit of the crust off the free form and it was crumbly without too much flavor, but I will save judgement until tasting the pie. I wanted to put more filling in but it was pretty soupy so to be on the safe side, I only filled to the top. If I were making a fresh fruit pie I would've added more filling.

I can't wait until after dinner and I can say: "I ated too much pie."

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Those look really nice, Klink. Next time you make pie, give me a call and I'll give you a lesson in crimping (if you like). :wink:

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Alton Brown did a show exclusively on the pie crust and apparently mangaged to balance tender and flaky.

I haven't tried it yet, but soon will.

We tried this and it was OK, but I really don't like cornmeal in my pie crust. He makes a free-form tart-like thing on the show. Not sure how is would do in a pie plate.

Our friend Tom, who makes the best pie I've ever tasted, uses all crisco. His blueberry pie is as close to heaven on earth as I think I will ever get.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Klink, congratulations on your first crust. It looks beautiful. And crimping's easy once you get it. But forking is an easy start.

I must say, I use all crisco (usually the recipe on the can, or close to it) and I probably use too much water. But it never cracks, it's still flaky, and people say it's the best they've ever had. My pies are on the rich side, so the crust doesn't have to be. Maybe when I start expanding my pie repertoire, I'll experiment with the butters, margarines, lards, vinegars, and all that.

On the subject, are there specific types of pies that each of these fats etc. should go with? Like lard for... savoury pies. Any ideas?

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klink,

my mother will be so happy...

Last year Judith and I decided that we'd better learn to make Nan's pie crust (she's not getting any younger, but that still didn't prevent her from loading a couple of girlfriends into her 1991 Marquis and cruising down to California).

Anyway, she patiently showed us how she mixes things up and rolls out the crust. Have I made a single pie since?

Jim

ps...I'm now starting to lobby for a switch from crisco to coconut oil, which is like shortening at room temp...I'm trying to get the processed fats out of the stuff we eat. I'm convinced that they are really, really bad for you.


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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

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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.

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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...

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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 (log)

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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


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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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

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Last night's pies:

fc525a81.jpg

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.

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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


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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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?

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

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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 (log)

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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!

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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 (log)

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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

i9782.jpg

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