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Old 04-23-2012, 10:54 AM   #1
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Secrets of great pastry?

Are there secrets, to making the pastry light and flaky? If so, please share!

My homemade pastry is generally dense and heavy, rather than light and flaky like the one I buy readymade.

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:17 AM   #2
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You can handle the mix as much as you want before you add the water. After the water is added, only mix lightly enough to make the dough come together, roll out. You must use Ice cold water.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:09 PM   #3
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For awesome pie crusts start with cold ingredients.
Chill the flour in the mixing bowl first.
Use a pastry cutter.
Use two kinds of fat. 1/2 crisco (butter flavor) and 1/2 ice cold butter.
Don't over mix.
Chill the dough for a few mins before rolling it out.



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Old 04-23-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
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I have found by making many, many pie crusts that as PriFi stated, you can handle the dough all you want, until you add water. Also, as she stated, the water has to be ice cold. The dough doesn't have to be ice cold. But if the house temp. rises above 77' F., the lard will begin to liquify, which will destroy the flakiness of the end crust.

Think about what you are making. Your initial dough is a combination of fat, flour, and salt, that will form a bunch of little pea-sized chunks. These are bound together by a little ice water, whose temperature keeps the chunks from blending together.. When the dough is rolled out, it flattens these little chunks of dough into thin flakes, again just barely held together by that little bit of wet starch. Without that little bit of water, there is nothing to hold the little chunks together, and the dough is unmanageable. You can roll it out, and it will look great. When you try to transfer it from the table to the pie pan, it falls apart.

For a standard 2 crust pie, place 3 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl, along with 1.5 tsp. of salt. Start adding lard, about a cup at first. Cut the lard (or shortening) into the crust. As the flour and fat mix, they will begin make little pebble sized chunks of dough. If there is not enough fat, there will be loose flour hanging around in the bowl. When the amount of fat is correct, all of the flour and fat will be combined, and will form pebble sized lumps in the bowl. It is at this stage that you add the ice water. The water will combine with the starch to make the dough stick together enough to work with.

Too much water will make the dough too wet and gooey, again ruining the dough. So add the ice water a little at a time, sprinkling it all over the dough. I add about an 8th cup of ice water. Gently fold the dough together until it forms a single dough-ball. Divide the ball into two halves.

Roll out the first ball on a well floured working surface. I also flour the top of the dough, which I have flattened into a rough disk with my hands. Push the rolling pin from the center to the edges, in all directions. When you think your dough is rolled out enough, place your pie pan on top of it, inverted. The dough should be three inches larger than the pan.

With a sharp knife, cut a smooth circle around the pan, 2 inches larger than the pan. This will allow you to pick up the dough without it breaking.

Slide a icing knife under the dough to loosen it from the table. Then Either use a rolling pin to lift and wrap the dough around, or fold in half, then again in half. Place the point of the resulting triangle in the center of the pan and unfold it. Gently press it down into the pan edges.

I usually brush my bottom crust with egg wash and place into a 400' oven for five minutes to set the egg. This keeps the bottom crust from getting soggy from the filling.

Roll out the top crust to the same size as the bottom crust. Loosen it from the table and fold like with the bottom crust, or cut into strips to make a woven crust.

Fill the bottom crust, and place the top crust on top. Fold the excess between teh bottom crust and the pan sides. Flute the edges. Brush the top with egg-wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut small vent holes into the top crust to allow steam to escape, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour at 375' F. or until golden brown.

This method has never failed me, and gives me the flakiest, most tender crusts imaginable.

Hope it helps.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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I make wholewheat pastry.

I had to learn tricks so that it wouldn't be tough.

  • Use lard. You can add up to 50% butter
  • I use pastry flour
  • add ice water, as others have mentioned - just a little at a time
  • add 1 teaspoon of vinegar per double pie crust, to the ice water
  • refrigerate the dough, well wrapped, to let it rest for an hour or more
  • let the dough warm up at room temperature for about 5 -10 minutes before rolling it out
  • don't work the dough too much
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:39 PM   #6
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I always put ice cubes in the water while I'm cutting the fat into the flour. My grandmother always included a tsp of white vinegar as part of the liquid. I do that and my basic pie crust is always light and flaky. And, 1/2 lard, 1/2 shortening.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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I think it's always good to also understand what's behind instructions. Think about different doughs and their end products. Bread, for instance. Well developed gluten organization and active yeast making it fill with gas bubbles give it a chewy but airy texture.

In the case of pastry, the hallmark of texture is the creation of many, many layers, the "flake" part. Layers can't form with the fat is thoroughly mixed to a fine texture in the flour and other ingredients. The bits of lard or whatever fat are small but intact and scattered throughout the dough. In baking, they break down to their liquid state and act to create the layers. If they are not kept cold, you end up just mashing liquid fat into the dough. No discrete bits of fat, so no layers.

And as someone already said, too much water leaves the dough runny, and it can't hang together and be separated by the fat. If you think about the why's of doughs, you can see why pastry is put together as it is, while biscuits, that also depend on cold fats, also use baking powder, because they are to be much thicker and denser and need some gas formation to be more bread-like.

The vinegar that often appears in pastry dough recipes is to block development of gluten. This matters a good deal when using APF. Not so much for pastry flour. So it appears in a lot of older recipes, because folks didn't often have real pastry flour.
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:55 PM   #8
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For me it is:

1 cup of Crisco
2 cups AP flour
1 t salt
1/4 cup ice water

Cut the Crisco into the flour and salt with a pastry blender until it looks like coarse meal and then quickly work in the ice water to form a ball of dough. This makes enough dough for a double crust pie. This can be chilled or formed and frozen but, I never have time for that I just roll it and use it right away.

The biggest trick to making a flaky pie crust like Grandma used to make is to make as many pies as she did! It was the practice and not a magic recipe that made those old girls excellent bakers!
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
For me it is:

1 cup of Crisco
2 cups AP flour
1 t salt
1/4 cup ice water

Cut the Crisco into the flour and salt with a pastry blender until it looks like coarse meal and then quickly work in the ice water to form a ball of dough. This makes enough dough for a double crust pie. This can be chilled or formed and frozen but, I never have time for that I just roll it and use it right away.

The biggest trick to making a flaky pie crust like Grandma used to make is to make as many pies as she did! It was the practice and not a magic recipe that made those old girls excellent bakers!
One of the churches in the little village near the city house has a group of ladies that make pies every Tuesday to raise funds for the church, community, etc. They were featured on TV on a regional show this week...I'm thinking this would be something fun to do on Tuesday afternoons once I get settled back in the area....even though I don't have quite as much gray hair as the ladies featured did, I could probably pick up a trick or two from them...and have fun at the same time.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
For me it is:

1 cup of Crisco
2 cups AP flour
1 t salt
1/4 cup ice water

Cut the Crisco into the flour and salt with a pastry blender until it looks like coarse meal and then quickly work in the ice water to form a ball of dough. This makes enough dough for a double crust pie. This can be chilled or formed and frozen but, I never have time for that I just roll it and use it right away.

The biggest trick to making a flaky pie crust like Grandma used to make is to make as many pies as she did! It was the practice and not a magic recipe that made those old girls excellent bakers!
Exactly, it's difficult to explain how to do something that you have been doing for so long. I've been making pie crust for 44 years, have taught others how to do it, but usually in person...not trying to type it out.

Learning how to cook is as much hands on and making mistakes as it is following a recipe. Cooking/baking are better learned in the kitchen with your teacher.
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