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Mar 28, 2008 10:48 AM

Julia Child's pie dough / pate brisee

I've been working on pie dough for a few months now and I'm beginning to get the hang of it. Recently I checked Julia Child's pate brisee recipe from MTAOFC and it seems that her recipe calls for nearly twice as much liquid as other recipes I've tried - 1/2 cup (8 TB) per 2 cups of flour. I've been using roughly 5 TB per 2 1/2 cups of flour.

I can't imagine second guessing Julia, but this amount of liquid seems like too much. Has anyone else found this to be the case? Or should I just charge ahead and trust Julia? I'd hate to go to the trouble if the dough will turn out soggy and difficult.

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  1. trust Julia. This is my tried and true crust for sweets and savories.

    I don't know which type of fat you are using in your other recipes, but this one calls for 2 different kinds (shortening and butter) which may have a lower water content then the fats you are using.

    1. If you're using Julia's recipe, definitely trust her. (Isn't it sacrilege to say otherwise? ^_^) Otherwise, go with what has worked for you.

      Like eLizard stated, a full butter pate brisee means a higher initial water content, and I know that most recipes are butter-only ones, so that's probably the reason for the difference in liquid amounts.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ali

        The recipes I've used are exactly the same as Julia's (3/4 butter, 1/4 Crisco) except for the water. And yes, it is sacrilege to contradict Julia, except that everyone else says less water. But then, everyone else isn't Julia. I should just try it and see what happens.

      2. The Spouse positively swears by Julia's pie crust recipe and since he makes much better crusts than I do, I'd go with it.

        1. Water quantities in baking are rarely exact. You add enough flour until things are no longer sticky. You add enough water until things hold together. Water quantities are basically estimates. Humidity variables will gauge how much you need better than Julia Child :) Feel free to try it and see if it improves your crust though, since it's possible that you're not adding enough at the moment.

          1. I tried the same recipe from her "Baking with Julia" book and it didn't work for me either. The dough was so wet, it would not even absorb all the water. If felt recovery was not possible so I made a new batch with my old recipe.
            I thought it was just me, and you know, maybe it was...I'll need to try the recipe again to see what, if anything, I did wrong.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gsshark

              Well, I did it Julia's way and wound up with a damp dough. Still trusting Julia, I baked up a cherry pie. It wasn't great. Not only did the extra water make the crust tough, it seemed to have washed out the buttery flavor that the previous week's crust had. I should be proud of the fact that months of tweaking and practice have given me a wonderfully flavorful and flaky pie crust. But I'm saddened that Julia's recipe wasn't spot on. For me, anyway. Maybe it's in the technique.