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Oct 11, 2009 03:09 PM

My first flaky pie crust gone bad....

Well, I finally got the Cuisinart FP and was ready to try it out making a flaky pie crust which was going to be used as a topper on chicken pot pies. I used a simple (so I thought) recipe that required 1 1/4 flour, 1/2 c chilled shortening, salt [I used course sea salt], cold water.

I think my first error may have been within using part all-purpose flour and part KAF white whole wheat. Next, I used a vegetable shortening.

I mixed the dry ingredients in the FP [with the dough blade by apparently I should have used the large metals blade]. Then I added the shortening, broken into pieces. I began by pulsing the mixture and after a while, the Cuisinart FP experienced temporary heart failure. Reset the machine and no response.

I then dump the mixture into a bowl and grabbed the pastry blade to continue cutting the shortening. Added the tbsp of cold until the dough binded. Possibly another error here that I did not add enough.

I thought my dough was ready and formed it into a ball but it took a lot of effort. It was wrapped in plastic and sat in the fridge for about an hour. Take dough out and begin to roll and this sucker is breaking apart everywhere. Only parts are "gelling" together but the rest are merely crumbles.

I get a little frustrated at this point and half-heartedly form another ball/disc and re-roll out and the outcome was NO better. Still unwilling to give up on this crust. I make it work and cut out my discs for my mini pot pies.

I baked and everything smelled good. Cooked a bit too long as the crust was a little darker than what it should have been but not burnt. I dive in to taste and boy was it BLAND. It really wasn't flaky. It had a crust like texture but not flaky.

So, I am pouring out my heart to save myself next time. Here are my concerns....

1. Is it really possible to make flaky crust with KAF White Whole Wheat flour (even in a 1:1 ratio with all purpose).
2. Can this work with vegetable shortening? Should I have used more or less.
3. I don't have table salt on hand, is this going to be essential to my dough baking?

I should note that my Cuisinart FP revived itself. I am still a bit bothered it conked out from several pulses but I was using the wrong blade.

Congratulations to you if you made it through this long post. And double kudos if you respond :D

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  1. I think you might want to try your next crust with all white flour (or, if you want to use whole wheat, use whole wheat PASTRY flour, not regular whole wheat). That might help. Also, the regular metal blade will also make a difference. I think the dough blade is designed to work doughs to become stronger and awaken the gluten. You don't want that with a pie crust. The shortening should have made it flaky, but I think your other problems (flour, FP blade) were too much for the shortening to overcome.

    When I make a pie crust, I use a butter/lard combo, but I gather you are trying for a "healthier" crust. Good luck! I understand the frustration involved with pie crusts, having been there myself.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Thanks!!!!! I am not going to let this pie crust beat me and this pot pie will be on my menu again next week. I will definitely try the recommendation on the flour. I think I will just use all purpose flour next time too; hopefully, it'll help with the taste.

      1. re: cityhopper

        Good for you! Pie crust can be one of the trickiest things for me to make (and my grandfather was a master pastry chef, though pies as we know them in the US are not found in Germany; however tart crust, though more forgiving than pie crust, can also be a tad problematic). I remember my very first real pie--a double-crust apple pie--and I was so proud of the that crust, as it was flaky and flavorful. But I'd had mucho practice with butter tart crusts. I keep of photo of that pie on my cell phone--is that nutty or what? I'll attach it here :)

        BTW, now you've got me hungry for pot pie. Oh, and thanks for the double kudos!

      Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor — do not substitute.

      2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
      1 teaspoon table salt
      2 tablespoons sugar (omit if making a savory crust)
      12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
      1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
      1/4 cup cold vodka
      1/4 cup cold water

      Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. This two-step process helps create layers of fat so don't try to be efficient and do it all in one big dump of flour!

      Empty mixture into medium bowl.

      Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. This is a wetter pie dough than usual. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. Makes crust for 1 pie.

      The vodka adds moisture that makes the crust very easy to roll out, but it doesn't react with the gluten so the crust stays tender. The alcohol cooks out (about 95% does, anyway) and doesn't affect flavor.

      1. I helped someone make her first apple pie this weekend. As an experienced pie baker myself, I decided to start her easy with the most foolproof homemade crust recipe, the one my mother used when all seven of us kids wanted to "help" make Thanksgiving pies. The recipe below is easy and is great for savory pot pies. I have used it for turkey pot pie and it is terrific.

        The secret to this pie crust's tenderness is the egg and vinegar. It works great. But I will tell you another secret... can you skip the cusinart? One of the biggest problems for flaky pie crust is overworking the dough. Unlike what some people may say, you do not want uniform crumbs that resemble cornmeal or small peas. The shortening should not be overly worked. We use a pastry blender or just two knives cutting crisscross to cut the shortening in. It works great. You will get some uneven lumps and that's fine.



        4 cups all purpose flour
        1 3/4 cups shortening (use Crisco No Trans Fats, can also use part Crisco butter flavored shortening no trans fats)
        1 tablespoon sugar
        2 teaspoons salt
        1 teaspoon vinegar
        1/2 cup ice cold water
        1 egg


        1. In a very large bowl, mix together, flour, sugar and salt.
        2. Cut in the shortening. Will be lumpy.
        3. In a small bowl combine vinegar, cold water and egg, stir with fork till well blended.
        4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with large spoon or by hand.
        5. Divide into 3 balls, refrigerate for 15 minutes (up to a week). Remove one ball at a time and roll into flat circle to fit pie pan. For single crust, bake at 400 till golden brown or follow baking direction for your favorite pie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TrishUntrapped

          Thanks for breaking down the process of cutting the shortening into the flour. I definitely overworked the dough on this first attempt.

          Everyone has really provided great feedback for me to improve on this pie crust (challenge).

        2. Think that perhaps your recipe needs adjustments as to fat and adding moisture.

          Here are a couple of good "reads" on making pie crusts that could be helpful for >anyone< interested in making dough for pie crusts.

          1. Pie crust is one of those things... once you find a recipe for you you will defend it to the death and not try another! I had many, many failures (too dry, too moist, tough, etc.) until I tried Julia Child's recipe for pate brise in Mastering the Art Vol. 2. This recipe is great for a couple of reasons. First, it uses a lot of liquid which means the dough always comes together. Second, you can make it in a stand mixer or FP (I'm pretty sure about the FP) which helps keep the fat cold and keeps the dough from getting oily. It never fails and she includes ratios for making the crust for sweet pies or savory.

            And yes, YOU NEED SALT, A GOOD AMOUNT OF SALT!!! This should absolutely be a kitchen/baking staple-- maybe you limit it for health reasons, but pie crust is no place to worry too much about health ;) I think Julia calls for upwards of a teaspoon for a double crust. IMO nothing is worse than someone giving me a cookie or other pastry with no salt. Gah. It's terrible. Inedible. Your baking will never really be good unless you use sufficient salt.