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What did I do wrong with my pie crust?

I finally found a recipe for pie crust that was a breeze - it's from the Baking with Julia cookbook. It has always been so much easier than the recipe my MIL had given me, finally no more tears and tears (weeping and holey pie crust) and while my crusts never looked like anything you'd find in a bakery - they were wonderful. Hilarously crimped but very tasty.

This morning I made the dough, divided it into 3 (it's supposed to make 4 crusts but I give myself room for error) and wrapped them and put them in the frig to chill. After an hour I started on the first one, rolled it out and it stuck to the waxed paper and then tore. I put it back into a flat ball and rolled again, adding a bit more flour to prevent sticking. Same thing happened. Third time I managed to get it rolled out and into the pie dish but it was a near thing.

The other 2 behaved the same way.

It's a humid day and I didn't need very much water when I made the dough.
What do you think happened? Maybe too much water even though it was just a sprinkle - maybe only 2 teaspoons?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Would need the entire recipe to know about the ingredients...

    But one possbility is the dough might not have been chilled long enough. Is it warm where you are? And when you re-rolled it might have been too warm.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TrishUntrapped

      Trishuntrapped ~

      The ingredients are: 5 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups chilled butter, 1 3/4 cups shortening, 1 tablespoon salt and cold water.

      The dough was probably chilled for about an hour and a half maybe 2 hours max.
      It's not really warm but it is in the 60's and it's humid - rain and snow are supposed to be on the way for Thursday.

      It might have been too warm the second time, but the second and the third time went better than the first time.

      I've never had this problem with this dough - I'm totally stumped.

      thanks for your help!

      1. re: Cookiefiend

        Pie crusts can be fickle at times. It took me years to really get the knack and even though I think my pies are good I know I will NEVER bake a pie as good as my mother-in-law. Hers are so good people ask her for a pie instead of a birthday cake.... but I digress.

        One important thing is temperature. Having the butter chilled is good...and if possible chilling the shortening is a good idea too. In my basic recipe for pie crust, I keep the flour/shortening/salt mixture chilled until read to use and then measure and and mix it with the ice cold water....It comes out great.

        Another thing to be careful with is measurements. Too much butter/shortening is a bad thing.

        A tablespoon of salt seems like a lot but if that's what the recipe calls for then fine.

        For rolling, I like using one of those really large, super big ziplock bags. I cut the bottom so the bag is in two pieces. Flour the bag lightly...put the dough between the layers, making sure that if there is print on the bag it is not on the side touching the crust (it could rub off with repeated use).

        I also subscribe to the letting the crust set in the pan in the fridge before baking philosophy as described in an earlier post.

        Good luck and enjoy.

    2. ice water added sparingly, flour never acts the same twice. And then keeping it cold, and a nicely floured board and turn the crust as you roll. I have had the same thing happen. I throw it away, after a bit it gets tough.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chef chicklet

        oh oh... tough crust may be on the way!

        :-)

      2. It could be a bit too wet, but I would have to say that you may be rolling it too thin.

        The crust might still be usable as a bottom crust, or for sugar pies.

        The pie dough should just barely hold together when you initially make it, before the first chilling.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kelli2006

          Fortunately they are for pumpkin pies and an apple crumble pie - both bottom crusts.

          After I put the first teaspoon of water in I thought 'oh that might be enough' based on the way the dough was handling, then I thought it couldn't be and so added another. Maybe I shouldn't have!

          Thanks :-)

        2. I've at times resorted to freezing it, grating it, and patting in.

          3 Replies
          1. re: willownt

            You might not have added enough water. I usually add at least 3 or 4 tablespoons of ice water for a one crust pie shell. But humidity will affect that I know. Cook's Illustrated Nov. and Dec. issue has a foolproof pie dough that may work really well for a humid day. I have some of this dough chilling in my fridge. It has a nice smooth texture, I think it will be very easy to work with. Check it out on their website. Good Luck!

            1. re: cookiehound

              I'll agree with the possibility of not enough water, that would explain the tearing.
              Also, let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes after chilling (still wrapped), and don't over-work it during any stage.

              Good luck!

              1. re: cookiehound

                Pie crusts are indeed a challenge and even for those proficient at it, they never seem to be the same twice in a row. 2 TBS water might be enough one time and it takes 3 the next time. The Cook's Illustrated "fool proof" method really is just that - fool proof. I've made it a number of times over the past couple of months and it turns out perfect every time. It is now my go to flakey pie crust recipe.

            2. Although I'm not a pie crust master by any means, I've found that plastic wrap works much better than parchment, so it may work better than waxed paper.

              Also, my culinary student son suggested that, to avoid a tough crust, I refrigerate the dough for 1/2 hr. after rolling and placing in the dish to let the gluten that develops during rolling relax before baking. I tried this with my last crust, and it seemed to help.

              5 Replies
              1. re: bear

                Here is another good tip that my Auntie Irene (now gone) an excellent pie maker gave to me. Save your bread wrappers, split them open, place the inside of the wrapper (that touches the bread)on top of the dough before you roll it out, it will roll so much easier. I have no ideas why but it works. Lately I'm saving my tortilla bags too just in case, I haven't tried them but will. She only gave me this tip for pie dough, and I haven't tried it with anything else yet.

                I save way more bread wrappers than I bake pies, But that 87 year old lady was giving away the most beautifully baked pies away until she could no longer bake. Peach was the best!

                1. re: chef chicklet

                  I'll try this too - God knows the wax paper isn't cutting it and like you, I've got bread wrappers galore.

                  I love peach pie, I bet your miss your Auntie.

                  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                    chef chicklet, are the wrappers to be used under and on top of the pie crust to be rolled out, instead of waxed paper, if used?

                    I am reading that the wrapper is to be used on top only, between the crust and the rolling pin.

                    Cookiefiend, try the 'patting' technique. I only roll out top crusts.

                    1. re: dolores

                      what I do is flour the board as normal, then place the dough down, and then the inside of the wrapper touching the dough, and roll. It works great. (You don't flour the pin doing this) If you touch the inside you'll see it is a little slippery from the bread.
                      Never tried it with the wrapper underneath/ she just said to lay it on top. Might try it though! no wax paper at all.

                    2. re: Cookiefiend

                      I do miss her she was a character. And she used to bake two turkeys at Thanksgiving even into her 80s. She did know how to make pie, and there was never a day that she didn't make one. She claimed it helped her arthritis.
                      Wish I'd been smart enough to get her peach pie recipe!
                      Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving yourself with those you!

                2. Thanks everyone!

                  Next time I will try chilling both the butter and the shortening (didn't chill the shortening) and letting it rest before I roll.

                  And if all else fails, I'll freeze it, grate it and then pat it in like willownt suggested.

                  thanks again! :-)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                    I don't know about the freezing and grating, but if you nuke it a bit after chilling it to make it pliable, you can still pat it in a pie dish. As you noted, since there is enough for four pie crusts, you can always patch it together via patting to make three pie crusts. If the crust sticks to your fingers, use flour, sparingly.

                    1. re: Cookiefiend

                      I recently had one that fell apart as it was going into the dish (too dry, alas) and I was able to just pat it in, without grating or freezing. It tasted pretty good to me, amazingly.

                      1. re: brittle peanut

                        That's probably what I did wrong - not enough water.

                        but they did taste great!

                        thanks again for all the help!

                        1. re: brittle peanut

                          Yup, just made an apple pie, and the patting worked as well as ever.

                          And, thank you, thank you, the bread wrapper trick is amazing. It worked like a charm!

                      2. It really sounds like not enough water was added. I make sure to use 3 cold tablespoons per pie crust, so if you only used two it might not have been wet enough.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lucienne78

                          I wondered if it was enough but the dough behaved like it did - it had the right texture at any rate.

                          I also had to use more flour in order to roll it, but maybe that's because the butter/shortening was too warm in spite of chilling it.

                          Pie crust is a challenge!

                        2. I just came across an excellent online tutorial on making pie crusts. It's on the Web site of Kate Zuckerman, author of The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chantarelle. A bit late for Thanksgiving, but perhaps in time for Christmas?

                          http://www.katezuckerman.com/thesweet...