Confused about pastry

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I know how to cook but making a pie crust is like rocket science for me.  I'm looking for a recipe to make a good old fashioned apple pie using butter and lard and the recipes are confusing.  Does anyone have a good beginner method and recipe that is no-fail?  All help is appreciated!
     
  2. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Try one of these:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    3-2-1 Pie Crust (Pâte Brisée)

    Recipe By :pete V. McCracken, as adapted from
    "Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of
    Everyday Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman
    Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Dough Pies
    Savory Sweet
    Tarts or Quiches

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    12 ounces flour
    4 ounces butter -- cold
    4 ounces lard -- cold
    2 ounces ice water -- maybe as much as 4 ounces
    1 pinch salt -- about 1/2 teaspoon

    Combine flour and fats in a mixing bowl and rub
    fats with fingers until you have small beads of
    fat and plenty of pea sized chunks.

    Add ice water gradually and a good pinch of salt
    and mix gently, just until combined DO NOT OVER MIX!

    shape into two equal disks, wrap in plastic wrap,
    and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to roll out

    Source:
    ""Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman, page 25"
    Copyright:
    "Copyright ©2010 all rights reserved, by Pete
    V. McCracken, 657 Village Green St., Porterville,
    CA 93257 (559) 784-6192 [email protected]"
    Yield:
    "1 pie shell and lid"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 384
    Calories; 26g Fat (61.4% calories from fat); 5g
    Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 45mg
    Cholesterol; 135mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 5 Fat.


    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0


    * Exported from MasterCook *

    3-2-1 Pie Crust (Pâte Sucrée)

    Recipe By :pete V. McCracken, as adapted from
    "Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of
    Everyday Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman
    Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Dough Pies
    Sweet Tarts or Quiches

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    12 ounces flour
    4 ounces butter -- cold
    1 ounce sugar
    4 ounces lard -- cold
    2 ounces ice water -- maybe as much as 4 ounces
    1 pinch salt -- about 1/2 teaspoon

    Combine flour, sugar, and fats in a mixing bowl
    and rub fats with fingers until you have small
    beads of fat and plenty of pea sized chunks.

    Add ice water gradually and a good pinch of salt
    and mix gently, just until combined DO NOT OVER MIX!

    shape into two equal disks, wrap in plastic wrap,
    and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to roll out

    Source:
    ""Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman, page 26"
    Copyright:
    "Copyright ©2010 all rights reserved, by Pete
    V. McCracken, 657 Village Green St., Porterville,
    CA 93257 (559) 784-6192 [email protected]"
    Yield:
    "1 pie shell and lid"
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 3182
    Calories; 209g Fat (59.2% calories from fat); 36g
    Protein; 288g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber;
    356mg Cholesterol; 1079mg Sodium. Exchanges: 17
    Grain(Starch); 41 Fat; 2 Other Carbohydrates.


    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0
     
    sra forfb likes this.
  3. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Keep it cool

    Chunks of fat  = flakes

    Too much moisture and too much working = tough crust
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Exact ingredient measurements aren't particularly important with pie crust, there's a lot of latitude. If you scale your flour to the nearest 1/2 oz, you're not really changing anything. But make yourself happy.

    Use a pie crust recipe, not pate brisee. Pate brisee -- something I like to use for a lot of things -- is too wet and crumbly for an American style pie crust. 3,2,1 is very common but is also too wet if you use all the water. For a double crust: 3 cups flour, 1-1/2 - 2 sticks butter, 3/4 -1 cup lard, 2 tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of baking powder; and as little water as necessary. To prepare the water, mix a cup of water with 2 tbs white vinegar or the juice of half a lemon, and chill it down with a bunch of ice cubes. Don't stint on the ice, you want the liquid COLD.

    "Keep it cold" is right. Keep everything cold. For that reason, I think a pastry cutter is better for most people than rubbing in with finger tips.

    50/50 lard to butter is right. Or, you could do it the other way. :D I go all lard, because I'm looking for max flakiness.

    Cut the lard and butter into rough dice and put it in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes before cutting in. When you do cut-in, don't break the fat down into pieces any smaller than a pea. Obviously some pieces are going to be larger than others -- larger than a pea is GOOD.

    Mix the flour and fat with a fork until the pieces of fat are well coated.

    In any case, you want to use an absolute minimum of liquid. That means use just enough ice water to get about 10% of the dough to hold together in a ball -- the other 90% as crumbs is okay. You should be able to see chunks of fat sticking out of the dough.

    Form as many balls as you'll need crusts. If you're using a double recipe, that means two balls. Wrap each ball and its share of crumbs in saran wrap. When you have it wrapped, press it down and form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before rolling out. FYI, during the 1/2 hour rest, the moisture will equilibrate and the large dough mass will incorporate the crumbs.

    If you're using a stone or plastic pin, refrigerate it while the dough rests.

    Generously flour your board, keep some extra bench flour on hand. Generously flour your pin.

    Unwrap the disc, and turn it out onto your board.

    Before rolling, press the disc out with your pin. That is make two presses into the disc at right angles to one another forming the shape of a + . The ends of the + should run all the way across the disc. Then turn the disc over, rotate it, and do the same thing from the other side creating a new + offset by 45* from the first. The final shape should look like an X over a +.

    Toss a little bench flour onto the surface of the crust.

    Start rolling. Always roll from the inside out. That is, start your pin on the crust (don't roll onto an edge), and finish off of it. Don't press too hard. If you're using a simple, French pin don't expect the weight of the pin to do all or even most of the work.

    Add more bench flour to the crust and the pin if you notice any sticking. Use your pie plate to measure your progress. For the bottom crust, you need enough for the bottom and side of the plate -- no more. Many people try and make their crusts thin and only end up making them tough by overworking the dough. At this point in the game, thicker is better. That won't always be true, but wait until you're confident about making a good crust before we tweak.

    Rolling out will flatten the pieces of butter and lard. Big flat pieces of fat are one of several things which you must have to make a flaky crust. A lot of people confuse "tender" with "flaky." A pate brisee can be tender, but is crumbly and not flaky.

    Hope this helps,
    BDL

    PS. Edits: Fat quantities corrected. "90%" typo corrected.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  5. summer57

    summer57

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    Exact measurements when making pastry is deceptive. A cup of all purpose flour doesn't weigh or act the same as pastry flour. Protein level and humidity make a difference. Here in Canada, all-purpose flour is around 13 gm of protein, but in it's closer to 10 gm or less in the Southern US (see Shirley Corriher's Bakewise or Cookwise, Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pastry / Cake/ Bread Bibles, and others.  I don't have Ratio but those recipes look good to me.)  Then there are the differences in water content in lard, butter, shortening which means you can't swap them indiscriminately.  I think it takes practice, too, to figure out how a good pastry should look & feel, according to your own kitchen/flour conditions.    

    I agree with the comments above -- keep everything cold, work fast. BDL's detailed description looks good to me. Though to reduce the amount of flour on the bench, I'll roll on a big silpat mat.

    I used to help my grandmother as she made a dozen pies at a time - she only used lard, but her recipes were scaled according to 1 pound of lard, more pie than I like to make at a time!

    America's Test kitchen has an interesting recipe that replaces water with vodka.  The vodka doesn't activate the gluten, so the pastry stays tender. Any excuse to buy vodka!
     
  6. colin

    colin

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    BDL is reliable as always, though I think he meant "other 10% as crumbs."  And I strongly agree with summer57: if you're too dependent on ratios you can end up making bad crust because you're not responding to differences in your flour etc.  I do a rough flour/fat ratio by weight and don't even bother measuring the ice water: just a little at a time 'til most of the dough kinda hangs together.

    You may not want to buy another book, Koukouvagia, but Bernard Clayton's _Complete Book of Pastry_ is helpful on different kinds of dough, and he knows his pie.

    I'll have to try the vodka.
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Silpat is great. I usually use my granite counter. When rolling out on wood, a little extra flour is better than too little. But otherwise less is more.

    Yes, I meant "... at least 90% of the mass holding together," or "no more than 10% of the freshly mixed dough as unincorporated crumbs."

    Whether or not it's an exception, I favor mixing pie crust (and biscuit dough, and bread too if you've got the time) by hand. Obviously, you get a better feel.

    Flour volume/weight can vary by quite a bit. But since flour/fat ratios aren't that critical, and the flour/water ratio is adjusted according to touch and conditions... just don't worry too much about it. 3 cups flour, 12-14 oz fat, and as little (slightly acidulated) ice water as possible will do the trick every time.

    If you have a problem, it's not the ratio.

    Good point about different flours. Most APs will work fine -- especially national brands. I've never had any problems with crusts made from King Arthur which is a very strong AP, or from softer APs either. In one way you can look at softer as better since you don't want much in the way of developed glutens. But it's pretty easy to control gluten development by chilling, resting, and minimal handling. So... I don't think it matters much. The exceptions to the rule involve turned, super-flaky, puff-type doughs for top crusts, and this isn't the right place for it.

    Worth repeating that I don't have any problem or criticism with Pete's pate brisee. The traditional American pie calls for a slightly different, flakier style, that's all.

    BDL

    PS. I edited the fat amount, the old amount was a typo.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  8. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Um, I tried to be clear, the recipe is not mine, it is Michael Ruhlman's, I just formatted it for Mastercook
     
     
  9. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    No problem with Ruhlman's brisee either. The style is just a little wetter, the fat broken up more, generally handled more, and ends up more crumbly than the dryer, chunky fat, well rested American style. Really a matter of the size of the pieces the crust breaks into when it's shattered than anything else.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Really good info, thank you.  I need lots of explanation when it comes to pastry because I am clueless.  All I know is it's hard.  All I know is mix it but don't mix it.  All I know is keep it cold.  All very difficult things for me.  I'm not emotionally ready to invest in a pastry book and I wouldn't know where to start, thanks for the book suggestion.

    Panini, I think you need a second cup of coffee today.  Come over for some pie :)
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Like making biscuits, it's a lot more touch than recipe. Cold helps. Minimum water helps. Handle the dough as gently and as little as necessary -- without being afraid of it -- once you get the liquid in. The little tricks like adding acid or alcohol to the liquid to slow down gluten formation, but they're only little things. The modern aids like using the refrigerator and ice water are nice -- but not absolutely necessary. People have been making great pie crusts for hundreds of years.

    Most important though are a couple of things you already know. First, don't stress over the little things. Second, you enjoy cooking. Third, you're a very good cook; and if you don't get it right away you'll get it soon enough. If you have the dexterity to make spanakopita, you can make pie dough.

    BDL
     
  12. panini

    panini

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    Sorry guys. My bad. I just hear so much banter about those who want to use baking for some sort of income.

    I guess it doesn't matter at home. I can say  that products become great through consistency. I guess it's like my wife's meatloaf.

    It is never the same twice, Hence, I have stock in Heinz.

    Professionally 10% variance is so not right. It's all about percentages. It goes against everything taught.
     
  13. durangojo

    durangojo

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    kk,

    i am in no way a pastry chef and i am at high altitude which just exacerbates the challenge, but i swear by sherry yard's 'secrets of baking'...she not only knows her stuff, she explains simply and with humor, two very important things for me....i also use vodka in my pastry crust as i think someone mentioned....'one little for me, one little one for the pie'! bdl is right on about if you can make spanokopita, pastry will be a cinch for you...i find it very therapeutic in a way.....just using your hands is such a sensual pleasure......

    maybe you can put a shot in pan's coffee today!

    joey
     
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    Ok you guys. LOL Maybe Sambuca!

    When you've done what I have for so long 10% slaps you on the side of the head.

    I know, it's my tone.

    If 1 shop does 1.5 mil. 10% would buy the new Camaro I just bought.

    If you want to bake 10 pies for the holidays, will you end up with 9 or 11?

    Don't worry, I decided this morning I should start drinking. Just don't know what to buy.

    Kouk,

    I'm in NYC next Tuesday. How bout I buy the coffee. I'll be on the upper east side doing some TV.

    Some of my cousins kids are taking me to OM for lunch.

    Daniel for dinner.

    Join us if you dare. Just kidding you will pleasantly surprised how nice I can be.

    Panini
     
  15. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Wow I hope you have enough room in your tummy to enjoy 2 fabulous meals in the city!  A lovely idea but I'm a new mommy taking care of our newborn while hubby works.  These days the only kind of meal I enjoy is a cold one, eaten with one hand on the couch while nursing my son.  It would be nice if in the future the moderators host some kind of meet up for us in various cities.  Enjoy your day in NY, I think I'll order us up some indian for dinner.

    What TV??
     
     
  16. panini

    panini

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    Congatulations,

    Boy or Girl?

    I had the opportunity to care of our 7 yr. for a year.

    Changed my life. OMGosh. Talk about hard jobs!!! I went back to work for a break.LOL

    Bless your child

    Jeff

    10 or so years ago we did meet in NYC for the food show. CTers were great. I will never forget.
     
  17. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Son, very cute.  What food show?
     
  18. panini

    panini

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    Well, years ago a bucch of CT people met and visited the fancy food show at the Jacon Javitts Center.

    We visited the show, went out to Tapas place. Went to Kraft etc. It was a blast.
     
  19. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Fun, let's do that again one day!
     
  20. rrcos

    rrcos

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    I made an apple pie from the Americas Test Kitchen website..  It was simple and came out perfect.. Check out their website for the crust recipe.

    [​IMG]