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Pie crust solution

roxlet May 6, 2008 06:53 AM

Pies are one of my specialties, and I am frequently asked by friends to teach them to make pie crust, something that seems to give a lot of people fits. I have made pie crust many ways (including in the food processor per Julia Child's method in The Way To Cook), but I usually find myself with a pastry cutter and a bowl instead since I'm usually too lazy to drag out the food processor. The hardest part of making pie dough (in my opinion) is adding the ice water. It is hard to sprinkle it evenly and I find that most people just want to dump it in. Adding the right amount of water is crucial to being able to roll out the crust after it's rested, and I finally arrived at a great solution. On the Vermont Country Store web site they sell old-fashioned laundry sprinkler bottles. Fill one with required amount of ice water, and sprinkle as you move the dough around the bowl. The water is much more evenly distributed throughout by using this method...

  1. w
    wwlh4 Dec 25, 2008 11:11 AM

    What do you do when you didn't add enough water before resting and it begins to fall apart while you try to roll it out? Is my crust destined to be a mess or is there something that will save it?

    3 Replies
    1. re: wwlh4
      roxlet Dec 25, 2008 11:28 AM

      I would try to sprinkle more water on the dough, then using the heel of your hand,push the dough away from you bit by bit on a board. Gather up into a ball, flatten it, wrap in saran and put it back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. Good luck!

      1. re: roxlet
        w
        wwlh4 Dec 25, 2008 04:16 PM

        Thanks so much! Turns out that this time I REALLY shortchanged my crust and it just crumbled when I opened the suran wrap. So I just dumped it all back in the bowl sprinkled more water in and put it back together. Thankfully, it all worked out.

        1. re: wwlh4
          roxlet Dec 26, 2008 04:28 AM

          Yes, it seems that a lot of people are freaked about using too much water on the pie dough, and it often turns out dry and becomes impossible to roll. It's the hardest part of pie-making, IMHO. It shouldn't be WET, but after you mix the water in, it should hold together when you squeeze a handful.

    2. alliedawn_98 May 7, 2008 05:49 AM

      Thanks for your tips!

      I also want to thank you for mentioning the laundry sprinkler bottle. My mom has a Coca Cola bottle with the sprinkler on top. I remember her using it for lots of different things and have wondered for years what it was called. I've never seen one any place else. Reading your posts, it clicked and sure enough when I did a search that's what she has.

      1. j
        jono37 May 6, 2008 07:14 PM

        Thomas Keller has a tip in "Bouchon" for pate brisee which worked for me. You mix half of the flour with all of the butter in the food processor to get a paste. Then you cut that into the rest of the flour. By coating the butter first you make it easier to maintain the little pea-sized flour/butter globules that appear to be important in making a flaky crust. Although this is an improvement I have yet to achieve pie crust perfection. The best crust I have ever tasted used lard, which I will not use myself, so I always let myself off the hook for not achieving perfect crust!!

        4 Replies
        1. re: jono37
          sarah galvin May 6, 2008 08:38 PM

          Yes, lard is the best.

          1. re: jono37
            roxlet May 7, 2008 05:11 AM

            I use lard for something called Casadetti, which is an Italian fried pastry (think cannoli ravioli), but I find that commercial lard is just not that delicious. I've been considering getting some pork fat from a producer of hormone free pigs and making my own...

            1. re: jono37
              c
              corabeth Dec 28, 2008 12:01 PM

              Ditto for the lard. Don't buy the lard at the regular grocery. I get my lard at a local Mexican grocery. Much better than the lard at the regular grocery.

              1. re: corabeth
                roxlet Dec 28, 2008 12:09 PM

                I just got some leaf lard from a farm in the mid-west. Let the baking begin!

            2. sarah galvin May 6, 2008 06:26 PM

              A sprinkler bottle - brilliant!

              1. u
                uncleozzy May 6, 2008 11:02 AM

                I've always--following Alton Brown's lead--just used a spray bottle. You never know just how much water to use, so I'll just spritz and squeeze until it's close, then stick it in the fridge. If it needs a little more when rolling out, give it a few more squirts, and you're good to go. Crusts have been perfect every time since I started doing this. Before that, it was hit-or-miss (mostly miss).

                2 Replies
                1. re: uncleozzy
                  roxlet May 6, 2008 02:24 PM

                  I guess that Alton Brown and I are thinking alike on this -- both are used for dampening laundry! I will try that one as well, though the laundry sprinkler works really well for me and I don't usually have a problem with rolling out the dough, but I'll certainly keep it in mind if I do!

                  1. re: uncleozzy
                    a
                    addicted2cake Dec 26, 2008 08:06 PM

                    Me, too. I love Alton Brown. Spritz bottle works great!!

                  2. chef chicklet May 6, 2008 08:39 AM

                    Thank you roxlet these are the little tips that help non-bakers like me become better.
                    After many, many failed attempts, I just got the hang of making a non yeast biscuit (for biscuits and gravy) that is fluffy and light. I have been trying to perfect making these things for it seems like forever! Lets put it this way, I was taking the "don't over handle your dough" way way to literally, as I slap myself in the head!

                    Pie dough is another one I really want to do. I can make pate brisee, but good old great pie dough is a toughy!
                    Thanks for sharing! (I'll check out the site!)
                    S

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chef chicklet
                      roxlet May 6, 2008 10:50 AM

                      You're welcome, and may I also suggest the book titled "Pie" by Ken Haedrich. It has a great basic butter & shortening crust recipe (among others), and an almost endless collection of great recipes. Good luck!

                      1. re: roxlet
                        chef chicklet May 6, 2008 10:53 AM

                        Great thanks I'll look for that book. I wanted to add before I forget, that you are so right about people like me and dumping the water in, I have been doing that exactly along with taking the recipe soooo literally and not knowing my dough.

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