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Old 09-13-2004, 08:29 PM   #21
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Since I see you have no qualms about using lard...

The following recipe is from the side of a tub or Armour Star lard. You will note that everything is at room temperature. This particular crust comes on amazingly tender and flakey.



Armour's Famous 5-minute Pie Crust Recipe

1 Double and 1 Single or 3 Single Crusts

3 C All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C Armour Star Lard
1/3 C Water, not iced

Measure flour without sifting. Add Salt and sift. Add Lard at room temperature. Blend Lard into flour with pastry blender or fingers until size of small peas. Add water all at once. Press together with knife. Shape into 3 balls and roll out on lightly floured board or pastry cloth. To bake single crust: Prick with fork. Bake in 425 degree F. oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. To bake double crusts: Bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes or until crust is browned and filling is cooked.
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Old 09-13-2004, 08:43 PM   #22
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I suppose it's worth a try. But do I have to use that brand lard, or can I use another brand? (I doubt I could obtain that brand, at least not easily)
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonr
I suppose it's worth a try. But do I have to use that brand lard, or can I use another brand? (I doubt I could obtain that brand, at least not easily)
No idea. I'd say it's worth a try. This particular brand of lard is very similar in texture to vegetable shortening. It's hard for me to imagine one lard being greatly different from another.

As you can see, it's a real simple recipe. Almost don't have to think about what you're doing.
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:45 PM   #24
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Hey jason, room temp works best with the lard as mentioned by Psiguyy and really I think any lard should work. I don't know about the homemade stuff, but hey...whatever. I cannot fathom what the problem could be. It sounds like you are getting great advice from everyone. The only thing I can suggest is fuggeddaboudit! Maybe you are stressing to hard.

I always crank out the pie crust quickly, and don't do anything special. I have worked it with my hands, I have done it in a food processor. The only thing I do is something my husband likes. I use about 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust, as he likes it thick. The remaining 1/3 is for the top. I brush with some coffee cream and slam it in the oven.
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Old 09-14-2004, 07:50 AM   #25
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Jason, I have to give you kudos for sticking with this - your determination is awe-inspiring!

Why don't you try a lower gluten content flour - just regular old store brand all purpose, unbleached flour - see what that does. From your description of what the dough was doing, it sounds like the gluten in the dough was making it stretch and tear.
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Old 09-14-2004, 08:20 AM   #26
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Well, I just made another pie crust this morning, and this time things are going a little better. Although I had to add more water than I would have liked (about 60ML) I have made sure everything has remained cold, and by using a little extra flour on the rolling step, I have avoided tearing apart the crust like last time. One thing that was helpful was mixing the dough with the freezer door open, and effectively doing the work in the freezer. Oddly, this seemed to make the water absorption a little more problematic though, hence the extra water. Nevertheless, the butter chunks have remained pretty coherent and visible, so I'm hopeful. I'll let you guiys know what happens when I bake it in a little while. I really want this damn recipe to work. I KNOW it can work! I think in the future I will use a different flour, but for now, this organic stuff is all I've got. I will try the lard recipe eventually, but once I choose a recipe book, it's like choosing a woman; if I try anything else, it feels like I'm being unfaithful :(
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Old 09-14-2004, 08:48 PM   #27
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Jasonr, I think the root of your problem is that you're using the wrong tool for the task. Bread flour has been specifically engineered for bread. Pastry flour is for pastry. The high protein content of bread flour is causing it to absorb extra water and still be dry/crumbly. That's what protein does. It traps water/makes it unaccessible. The protein in flour becomes more responsive as it ages, so it's possible this recipe worked because the flour you were using was very fresh and the protein hadn't had a chance to activate. Regardless, though, you want a soft wheat flour for pastry. Cake flour is soft, but the processing it goes through gives it an unappealing taste/smell. Pastry is made from the same soft wheat as cake except it's unbleached. If for some reason, you absolutely can't get pastry flour, go with an all purpose flour with as low protein content as possible. This is very difficult in the North, since AP flours up here are gauged more for breadmaking than the AP flours down South where pies and biscuits are the norm. Canada is reknowned for it strong, hard wheat. You don't want that for pies.

The other thing I have learned about making crusts is that if the fat isn't cut enough, it leaves dry, uncoated areas of flour that absorb water quicker than the coated areas and creates an uneven, hard to handle dough. To avoid uncoated areas of flour, I do a two part fat cut in. I cut in half the fat to a point where it's completely incorporated then I add the second half and cut that until it's pea sized chunks. Then when I add the ice water, the dough comes together much more evenly.

And lastly, 1 or 2 hours of chill time is good for letting the gluten relax, but overnight is better for complete and thorough hydration. Hydration is what makes the dough a more cohesive unit.
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Old 09-14-2004, 09:01 PM   #28
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Thanks Scott. Although the flour I have been using, at 11.7% gluten, falls within the guidelines of my recipe, (it calls for bread flour, which it defines as between 10 and 12% gluten) it is at the higher end. I believe I will switch to a lower protein flour. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that this is really my problem. I know this because when I made my one successful pie crust, I was using a 12% flour, which is even greater than my current one. Uggh, at this point, I think I'm just going to be resigned to making mediocre pie crusts, at least until I can get someone to show me how in person.
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Old 09-14-2004, 09:09 PM   #29
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You know what, I see no reason to go out and buy new flour. I think what I'll do from now on is just use half pastry flour, half bread flour. This should create a low gluten AP flour, perfect for pie pastry.
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:14 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonr
You know what, I see no reason to go out and buy new flour. I think what I'll do from now on is just use half pastry flour, half bread flour. This should create a low gluten AP flour, perfect for pie pastry.
Well, what you say may be true, however I think you'll find it easier to attain the best results with the more universally used All Purpose or more professional Pastry flour.

I think if you mixed your bread flour with soft CAKE flour, you'll probably get close to the ideal.
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