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Pie Crust Problem

Did I mention that this is my first crust ever? Using the Tartine cookbook all-butter flaky pie crust has left me confused and worried. The dough came out of the food processor very sticky and seemingly over worked. I see no butter bits in the dough and it's very hard in the fridge right now after being left overnight.

Should I start over?
Did I over blend and really need to go easy on that pulse button?

Please help Chowhound, you are my only hope!

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  1. Sounds like you have your ratios off, with too much fat and liquid (though I don't know that recipe). It should have been basically moist crumbs that will just stick together.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dmd_kc

      1 cup + 5tbsp butter
      2/3 C water
      3 C flour

      But I'll start over once I buy more flour. Thanks for the tip ...

      1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

        It sounds as though you processed the dough until it balled up on the blades. This is what used to be the directions for food-processor pie dough, but it does overwork the ingredients and most newer recipes call for briefly pulsing until some tiny bits of butter are still visible, then dumping into a bowl and blending in the water with a fork.

        However, you don't need to toss what you have. It's probably too wet to roll, but you can flour your hands and pat it into pie pans to make one-crust pies. Divide it up, form into flattened rounds, wrap well and freeze until needed. It isn't going to be flaky, but perfectly fine for quiche, pumpkin pie, pies with pre-baked crusts...

    2. I guess if you were planning to use the crust on a pie with other ingredients that might by a bit costly, I would think about starting over. But not with the same recipe, as it sounds broken to me. Here a very simple crust that works every time

      1 cup flour, 1TBS sugar 1/2 tsp salt in the FP.
      Pulse in 2 TBS cold shortening (6 pulses)
      Pulse in 6 TBS cold unsalted butter (6 pulses or so)
      Put in a medium bowl. add 2 TBS cold water and press in with a rubber spatula. If too dry to hold together, add 1 or 2 more TBS (by the way, you can use 1/2 water and 1/2 vodka and have less danger of forming glutens).
      Once the dough holds together (don't get it too wet), form into a 6" disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

      This is for a single crust. For a double crust pie, just double the recipe.

      1. I would suggest, if you want a flaky (as opposed to "short" (i.e. tender and crumbly)) dough that you start out with cold butter, only process until small bits of butter are still visible, then put in a bowl, add the liquid, and mix by hand.

        If your dough doesn't seem elastic, you are probably okay. Since you let it rest for so long, just roll it out and if it doesn't seem to shrink up go ahead and use it. Otherwise I'd start over, mix minimally by hand, and still let the dough rest before using it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: knecht

          Has anyone tried chilling the food processor blade as well as the ingredients?

          There's actually a thread someone started a couple of weeks ago with pie crust tips and tricks. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600989

        2. I would go ahead and use the crust you made. When it's been refrigerated, it is always hard. Take out to warm up a bit to roll out.
          You may have used too much liquid. I would use up to 5 T.
          First blend in butter and flour (I like a pinch of salt and also sugar to help browning). Use the pulse for this and stop when it looks like course bread crumbs. Then add in water, I start w/ 3 T distributed around work bowl; pulse, see if it congeals, then if not add more water until it comes together.
          Pie crust takes confidence and practice. Don't me intimidated! And if it's not its flakiest first time around, so be it!

          1. If you are going to remake it, try using vodka in place of water. Vodka reduces the promotion of gluten which is what can make a dough/crust tough.

            I first saw this on an episode of America's Test Kitchen where it was explained and demonstrated back in Jan.

            To get to these links, you'll probably have to create a membership. It's free - just be certain to decline the offer for the CI magazine subscription - IF it's even still offered.

            Here is the recipe for their Test Kitchen "Foolproof Pie Dough"

            Science desk: "Why it works"

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoaNut

              the vodka trick really does work, doesn't it. i imagine that roughly speaking it'd work with any crust recipe that includes ice water. just sub in an equal amount of vodka for half the water. has anybody tried it with no water and all vodka?

            2. If you're just making pie for yourself, try the crust you have - as others have said, just let it warm up a little from the fridge before you roll it out.

              Otherwise, were your butter and water very cold? You can even use frozen butter - then if you don't process too much (and this is the key w/pie crusts), you will see those little bits o' butter flecked throughout your dough, and it'll be flakier. I usually freeze both buttter and lard for my crusts. And for the water (BTW, your recipe seems to have a ton of water, but I'd have to judge by eye), ice water works best too.

              It takes practice, but once you get a good one, it's pretty easy to replicate the process and you get your nerve up . . . don't give up! It's a delicious experiment.

              BTW, if you don't want to do pie w/your already-made crust, you could always roll it out, sprinkle it w/cinnamon-sugar, and bake into tasty little "cookies."

              1 Reply
              1. re: gansu girl

                I went with this recipe because it doesn't require shortening which I don't need to buy for when I make a pie every 36 years.

                For those following along at home, I just made a new batch with cold (not frozen) butter, cold water with one ice cube in it, and the flour. I pulsed carefully and didn't let the butter get quite pea-sized as requested and added the water carefully. I did not use all 2/3 C and eyeballed the consistency. This batch has butter chunks I can see and is crumbly so I'm optimistic. It's currently resting in the fridge.

                Thanks everyone, you've been very good pie guides.

              2. When I make tarts I like to use a butter crust as opposed to my regular (excellent) pie crust.

                I can totally vouch for this recipe below. I usually need a tablespoon more ice cold water.

                The instructions are simple and should help you from overprocessing.

                Good luck!


                1. It was probably overworked as you suspect. I never use a food processor for pie crust as a result. It works with just about everything else but not. Oddly enough, I have good results using a kitchenaid mixer with a whisk attachment.

                  But, really, the easiest way to have control is use a pastry blender. it doesn't take very long and you get the perfect mix of melded butter-flour, pea like lumps, as well as some shards. Add your water and you are good to go.

                  If you want to use the food processor you need to process a lot less.

                  I love, love all butter pie crust.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JudiAU

                    I don't have a hand pastry mixer, nor my neighbor who's my backup, so that was out.

                    Here's the Meyer Lemon Shaker tart report: Delicious - I gave it a B+

                    I added maybe 1/2 of the water it called for from the 2/3 C and just eyeballed it adding bit by bit. The crust was really nice.