Pie Crust

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by wyandotte, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Hi.  I am on the hunt for improved pie crusts (i.e., nothing can possibly go wrong).  I found something interesting in my voluminous box of recipes which mentions to "rub the pie crust with egg white [before prebaking for a pumpkin pie]".

    What would be the purpose of this?  We are to prebake the crust at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, then put the custard mixture in and bake the whole thing.

    Thanks for your help!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  2. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Egg white is used to seal the crust so filling want make the bottom soggy.

    I made pie crust every day for weeks until I got it right and consistent.

    Ratios are key:
    Flour 100%
    Fat 80% (you can use less, but I wouldn't recommend less than 70%)
    Water 25% to 30% (water is tricky because flour absorbency varies by lot, type, and brand)
    Salt 1% (DISSOLVE SALT IN ICE WATER)
    Sugar 7% (for sweet pies only)

    I estimate 20 grams of flour per 1" of pie plate. When calculating flour don't forget to add 2" inches for sides and 1" for tucked and crimped edge. So for 9" plate, flour will be calculated for 12".

    Flour matters. I prefer 55/45 blend of all purpose to pastry flour.
    The organic unbleached all purpose flour I like is protein 10-10.5%; ash 56%; hard red winter wheat; malted
    The organic unbleached pastry flour; protein 10%; ash 52%; soft white wheat

    I prefer Central Milling flours.

    Butter matters. Higher fat butters work best. But don't use a pliable brand like kerrygold. It's too soft and makes a greasy crust. I prefer Pulgra.

    Cultured butters will work well, but some brands like Vermont Creamery with 86% butterfat can be greasy. I like Trader Joe's cultured butter, but it's salted, so reduce the amount of salt if you try it.

    Dissolve the salt in the ice water--do not add it to the dry ingredients.

    Making dough by hand is the best way. Using a food processor or pastry cutter will chop the butter into bits to small to make a really flaky crust. Butter needs to be flakes. It takes me all of 5 minutes from start to finished dough.

    Cube the butter and chill it. Toss butter into dry ingredients to coat the butter. Then use the heel to flatten butter cubes into flour.

    Use a rolling pin to roll over butter and flour. This will create long butter flakes. Use a bench scraper to cut up butter flakes. Repeat rolling and cutting several times until nearly all the flour is incorporated into the butter.

    Make a well in the center and pour in salted ice water. Use bench scraper and with a folding and cutting motion, cut flour into the water until water is absorbed,

    Now here's where you need to have total faith that the dough with come together. This is similar to rough puff pastry technique, but it works beautifully for pie crust.

    Roll dough into a rectangle 1/2" thick. It will be crumbly. Have faith. Use bench scraper and fold crumbs into tri-fold.

    Turn it a quarter turn using bench scraper. Yes, it will be crumbly. Have faith. Roll it again into a rectangle 1/2" thick. Tri-fold. Quarter turn. Yes it will still be crumbly...don't lose faith. Repeat this two or three more times. I swear the dough will come together in 4 to 5 turns.

    Divide, wrap, and chill the dough at least 2 hours. I prefer overnight.

    Let dough sit out for about 20-30 minutes before you roll it to make your pie. The cold butter will be hard, so it needs time to soften.

    Tips on pie:

    Roll the dough, do not stretch it. To prevent stretching, turn the disk after each pass of the rolling pin. If the dough sticks to the counter, you'll be stretching it, not rolling it. A stretched dough will be tough. So turn the disk with each pass.

    Brush off excess flour after dough is rolled.

    Freeze the dough in the pie plate for 10 minutes before filling and baking.

    Place oven rack on lowest position.

    Preheat the cookie sheet. The heat from the sheet will help bake the bottom faster, and reduce the chance of a soggy and/or half baked bottom.

    Bake hot. I bake hand pies at 375 degrees. Whole pies at 400 degrees.

    Use an egg wash for best browning.

    Pie dough freezes beautifully. Make extra. Roll and cut into circles. Freeze 20 min on a cookie sheet. Then stack with wax paper between circles. Wrap stack well and put in freezer.

    To use, place a frozen disk over the pie plate. The dough will gentle sink into the pie plate as it thaws.

    I'm totally obsessed with pie:)
     
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  3. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Holy cow! Lots of information!   I need it, too - I am still learning to make that perfect crust!  I've never made a really good pie; there's always something going at least a bit wrong!

    Thank you for answering my question.  Since you are "obsessed" with pie, maybe you could give me your opinion on a pie crust recipe that I have not yet tried, as follows:

    EASY PIE CRUST

    - 2 TB powdered sugar

    - 2 TB milk

    - 1/2 cup of oil

    - 1-1/2 cups of flour

    - 1/2 tsp of salt

    Instructions:

    Mix all the ingredients together and press into a pie plate with your fingers.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.  This is the easiest pie crust to make and it turns out perfectly every time.

    Norcalbaker - I am scared to try this pie crust recipe.  It goes against everything I know about pie crusts.  I mean - oil?  Any opinions? 
     
  4. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I wouldn't waste ingredients trying that recipe. Start with something more traditional, like the method above.

    Instead of roll and fold and roll and fold, another technique is to romp it on a board after mixes and "smear" it together with the heel of your hand. "Frissage"... if I'm spelling it correctly. That both incorporates everything plus makes the fat thin so a flaky crust results.
     
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  5. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
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  6. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Thanks for all your advice and the links, Brian.  I went to Joy of Baking and homed in right way to Pumpkin Tarts and Pumpkin pie,  faves of mine.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif I have to do something with the winter squashes from the garden.

    The pastry recipes are both the same, but one (for the Pie) is called Pate Brisee (short crust pastry).  Also, they require a food processor, which I don't have.  My mother and relatives made pretty good pie crusts without machinery.

    Have you ever made a good pie crust by hand, from scratch?  Jes' askin'.

    Thanks.
     
  7. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Lol, yes seems strange to see oil in a pie crust rather than a solid fat.

    But it's actually a typical no roll pie crust. An oil based pie crust is generally best when you have a liquid filling like a custard based pie. On the plus side there's less risk of over developing the gluten. And they are frequently used in vegan applications because there's no butter. This recipe has milk, but water can easily be substituted.

    I think you just have to adjust you concept of pie crust when you make an oil based crust.
    1. Oil lacks milk fats, so it will not brown like a butter crust. My guess it the recipe developer is trying to compensate for the absence of milkfat by using milk in place of water. Consider a butter crust contains any where from 30% to 90% butter, the small amount of milk in this recipe probably won't effect browning.
    2. An oil crust won't be flaky. It will be sturdier and crisp. For flaky pastry, a solid fat must be coated, almost imbedded, in the flour. But when making a liquid filling, a sturdier crust can be a better choice.
    3. Powdered sugar is about 3% cornstarch. Cornstarch has a high moisture absorbency so it can impart a gummy texture. My guess is powdered sugar is used here because both sugar and cornstarch will aid browning.
    4. Since it's in volume measurements, it's hard to tell what the ratios are, but 1/2 cup oil to 1 1/2 cups a flour is the the ballpark. There isn't much milk; given the use of powdered sugar, you may have to add more milk to off-set the moisture absorbency of the cornstarch.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Making with food processor is faster, but that can get one in trouble faster. I generally make by hand. It's easier and less chance of mistakes.
     
  9. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Pate brisee, BTW, is basically just "pie crust" in French.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  10. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    @norcalbaker.  Geeze, where did you learn all this stuff, I mean the chemistry behind baking & cooking?  I think I once heard about a book that explains all this stuff in a way that nonprofessionals (nonchemists) can understand.  Are you familiar with it?  Wish I could recall the title of that book.

    @Brian.  I am relieved to hear that a chef chooses to do a crust by hand! 

    Many thanks to the both of you for your input.  I will make a perfect pie yet.  I've not had a raisin pie since childhood, that's 40 yr. ago, so I hope to take a crack at that next. 
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Get yourself a copy of the book entitled RATIO by Ruhlman.  Then, do a search on my name to learn how to prebake a crust.  Pm me if you need to.
     
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  12. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Raisin pie. Yum. That's not in my tradition but had one as an adult. Yum.
     
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    There was a bakery across the street from my high school that made a sort of raisin pie/bar.

    Half sheet pan lined with short dough and then almost an inch of the filling.

    One of those treats you remember forever .

    Wouldn't mind having a recipe..... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif...

    mimi
     
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  14. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Raisin pie. Yum.

    LOL!   I know.  Once you've had a slice, you can't forget.  We had it regularly as kids especially at church dinners.  I see different kinds of recipes on the ww web, so now I wonder which is better for the thickening - cornstarch or flour...

    Here we go.
     
  15. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Every pm when the last bell rang my brother and I would walk over for a snack and eat it sitting on the curb.

    My mom was notoriously late for everything and was a nice way to pass the time lol.

    mimi

    Odd tho my brother does not remember those raisin bars...

    By that age I was already working part time at a place that did event cakes only so I guess I was trying to break down recipes for my own place.

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/cool.gif

    m.
     
  16. pie lady bakes

    pie lady bakes

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    My favorite piecrust recipe is one that I have used for over 40 years.  I've modified it some, but it's my perfect pie crust every time.  Like the others who have posted, I prefer to work the pastry dough by hand.

    6 cups flour (I like to use cake and pastry flour)

    1 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp salt

    1 pound of vegetable shortening 

    1 egg

    2 tbsp vinegar

    water

    Mix the dry ingredients together

    Cut the shortening into small chunks

    Using a pastry blender work the shortening into the flour mixture slowly until it is all mixed and the shortening is 'pea sized'.  You will be able to take a handful and squeeze it - it should stick together.

    Beat the egg is a one cup measuring cup, add the vinegar and fill the cup with water

    Add this to the pastry mixture and blend, using a light hand.  When the pastry and egg are completely mixed, separate into four balls and wrap each in plastic wrap.  This recipe will give you enough pastry dough for four pies.  I usually freeze three and chill the one I want to use for about 30 minutes before I roll it out.

    Happy Baking!  
     
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  17. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Wyandotte, Experience (aka epic kitchen failures) and curiosity as to why a recipe failed led me toward the science of baking. The book you reference may be Cookwise.

    Cookwise by Shirley Corriher is an excellent cookbook that explains a lot of the science in cooking. Twenty years ago Corriher broke new ground when she wrote this textbook type of cookbook aimed at the home cook. She also authored Bakewise. I still regularly use my old copy of Cookwise as reference.

    The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is also an excellent resource on food science. His website, Serious Eats, has an extraordinary amount of information and recipes available for free. Lopez-Alt is the geek of geeks on food science. He spent years as a chef for America's Test Kitchen, so he breaks down the science in a similar user-friendly format.

    Brave Tart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks. Parks is an accomplished pastry chef, cookbook author, as well as an editor and food writer for Serious Eats. Parks is one pastry chef who knows her science, and will take on fears and myths surrounding cooking and baking by explaining the science in terms understandable to laypersons. Parks is just nothing short of amazing. If Park utters it, I pretty much accept it as a truth in baking science. If you google her name and Serious Eats, you'll get a link to her bio page. Click on it and scroll down for her list of articles on Serious Eats.

    There was mention of a book on ratios by Michael Ruhlman. I would say approach with caution on that book. He made up the ratios for his book. Many home bakers found his ratios to be faulty, and culinary programs pretty panned his book. Examples of what I found wrong are his pie crust ratio of 3-2-1. It's the same as his cookie ratio. I don't have a single pie crust or cookie recipe with 3-2-1. I literally spent weeks experimenting on pie crust, I repeatedly used and found 3-2-1 to produce a lackluster crust. In cookies, the type of cookie is going to determine the ratios. A shortbread will have more butter than a chocolate chip cookie. My favorite shortbread recipe has 75% butter to flour. Tartine's shortbread recipe, which is heavenly, has equal parts by weight butter to flour (not factoring in cornstarch). My chocolate chip cookie has 10% more butter than Ruhlman's cookie ratio. A chocolate chip cookie with 66% butter makes a really bland cookie. I found 75% butter to be the minimum needed in a chocolate chip cookie. I had a chocolate chip cookie obsession going for a while there. My son finally said, "mom, seriously leave the cookie alone, it's better than any cookie I can buy at a bakery."
     
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  18. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I know Kokopuffs has great success with Ruhlmans pie crust ratio but I find it too loose and greasy.
     
  19. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Brianshaw,
    No doubt a baker can produce something edible with Ruhlman's ratios. In fact I was initially intrigued by Ruhlman's ratios. But his ratios produced pastry inferior to the quality I have produced for years. After analyzing things, I realized the problem was inherent in his approach.

    Ruhlman is frank about the fact that he's a cook, and not a pastry chef. This difference shows in his simplistic view of pastry. Ruhlman explains his premise on ratios began with the observation that there's scant difference in ratios between a pound cake, sponge cake, or pancake. That's like saying there's scant difference between my Toyota and a Lamborghini. He doesn't understand the whole is definitely other than the sum of its parts.

    Ruhlman doesn't realize pastry isn't defined by subtle nuances of ratios. Other factors aside (technique, temperature, etc.), to produce a cake verses a cookie, one must start with type of flour, fat, liquid, etc. In other words, it's not the ratios that define cake, rather types of ingredients that determine ratios, which in turn, ultimately determine the finished products. No matter what the ratios, you cannot make an angel food cake with unbleached whole wheat flour. No matter what the ratios, you cannot make a pie crust with bleached cake flour. Ratios in baking are a determined by ingredients. Ruhlman has it backwards, it doesn't begin with ratios.
     
  20. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    My favorite piecrust recipe is one that I have used for over 40 years.  I've modified it some, but it's my perfect pie crust every time.  Like the others who have posted, I prefer to work the pastry dough by hand.

    6 cups flour (I like to use cake and pastry flour)

    Pielady, do you mean a mixture of cake & pastry flour or what.  My understanding is that they are not quite the same thing.  To get your perfect crust, do you use a specific ratio of cake to pastry flour?

    Also, I see that yours is a large recipe and that it requires an egg for 6 cups of flour.  Me, I would liquefy (with an old fashioned eggbeater, which I love) the egg and measure out one-half of it so that I could make less pie dough.  Does this sound crazy to you?  I hope not.

    By "vegetable" shortening, I guess you mean Crisco?  Or margarine?

    PS.  While I'm here, I have a recipe from an old church ladies' cookbook which recommends using 1 Cup of lard and 1/4 Cup of butter (per 3 cups of flour)  just to complicate things!  I don't wish to use lard but I know that the use of lard is an old tradition and that  from what I hear it is truly the best kind of saturated fat for baking and cooking. 

    Hoo boy...the plot thickens.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017