HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

I AM NEVER ATTEMPTING PIE CRUST AGAIN!!!!!! (unless you help me)

Can you tell I am frustrated? I have been trying pie dough for years. I actually do quite a bit of baking and I have every piece of equipment you can think of. I have read every blog and every book and I follow every single instruction to the letter. I usually use a food processor, a la Martha Stewart and many others. But every time my filling is prepared and I begin to roll out my dough and think, "This is the one! I've finally done it!" I do that first push of my rolling pin and the dough cracks. Every flipping time!! The only thing I haven't tried is to add vodka (maybe I should drink some right now?) because we don't drink much and I'm not buying a whole bottle just to try it out. Can you tell I have a messed up dough on my counter sitting next to a beautiful pie filling right this very minute? Ok, sorry for feeling sorry for myself, but I could really use your help. Thanks. Nikki

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Recently I do the vodka one and it comes out perfectly. I am a total amateur and am very proud of myself! I could never make a good pie crust before.

    I think the vodka is a sub for vinegar, which a lot of old fashioned recipes called for, so maybe try that instead. I use 1/4 cup vodka and 1/4 cup water. But then again, you don't have to twist my arm to buy a bottle of vodka!

    You know, you could always just buy a pint of vodka that they keep behind the counter. It can't be that expensive, can it? Or even one or two of those airline bottles?

    1. Stick with your food processor. It's worth buying a small bottle of the cheapest vodka too be able to amaze your guests with your pastry, It's that good.

      Be sure to allow your dough to rest long enough to fully hydrate the flour before rolling it. Try making it a day in advance (or more) and refrigerating it overnight. Never fails.

      7 Replies
      1. re: iamafoodie

        I am also a fan of making the dough ahead of time. And of letting the dough come to "nearly" room temp/cool room temp before rolling. Rolling between sheets of parchment or plastic wrap has really been helpful for me.

        1. re: KarenDW

          yes, if using refrigerated dough you really do need to let it come back up to about 65 or 70 degrees. If your kitchen is warmer than about 75 or so you might have problems too.

        2. re: iamafoodie

          I will think about using the vodka. Thanks for the rec.

          1. re: Nikki NYC

            If you have no issue cooking with vodka you could use the rest for Pasta alla vodka. I don't drink vodka but do love the sauce. I bought the smallest bottle I could find and it's lasted for years. I think opened liquor is pretty stable and has a really long shelf life...connoisseurs can tell the difference in taste but for cooking I think it's fine.

            1. re: 16crab

              In my town there are several liquor stores that sell the airplane sized bottles of many different liqueurs and distilled spirits. If all you need is 2 oz. you might try that.

              PS Vodka is EXCELLENT for cleaning, especially bathrooms, believe it or not! I don't drink straight vodka, so I buy the cheap stuff, keep it in the freezer and use it for pies, bloody marys, and cleaning. Isn't that funny? But, someone told me once that coca cola makes a good engine degreaser, so I guess it takes all kinds. At any rate, buying a large bottle of vodka when smaller ones aren't available won't be a total waste.

              1. re: blaireso

                I once cleaned oil spots off a garage floor with coca cola and something else .. can't remember the details, only did it once and it worked.

                Do you use it straight in the bathroom on the floor etc. just as though it's bleach or something?

                1. re: walker

                  Car battery terminals used to become corroded easily, and the standard method for cleaning them was with Coke.

        3. The Cook's Illustrated recipe with the vodka is really fantastic, but you can do it without the vodka as long as you follow the technique to the letter. It is VERY important to make sure the flour and fat are completely incorporated in the first step (I forgot to do this once and the results were disastrous). The flour and fat need to look like Play-Dough in this step. Letting the dough rest and fully hydrate is also very important, and will make rolling easier.

          However, a crack or two as you're rolling it out isn't the end of the world. Just patch the crack with some dough from the edge and it will be fine. I also find it's easier to roll dough that isn't straight from the fridge - you can put it back in the fridge or freezer to firm up before you bake it. I usually let mine sit on the counter for 5 minutes or so before I start rolling it, and I also work it with my hands just a little bit before I roll - I flatten it into a disc shape before I put it in the fridge, of course, but when I take it out I enlarge that disc shape just a bit with my hands, then start to roll it. I wouldn't recommend this (either letting it get a little warm or the hand trick) with a dough that depends on chunks of butter for flakiness, but with the food processor recipes, it works great.

          4 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            I've been discovering this with refrigerated cookie dough too, you can ruin the whole batch if you roll it straight out of the fridge.

            1. re: coll

              That used to be MY problem. I took the "keep the dough cold" bit too seriously. Once it's hydrated in the fridge, you can let it warm up some before rolling.

            2. re: biondanonima

              Or, when you take it out of the fridge, you can whack the disk of dough a few times with your rolling pin, a la Julia Child. I do this. I also roll between two sheets of parchment, occasionally lifting the parchment off the dough before putting it back (do this periodically for both pieces of parchment). Seems to help.

              1. re: nofunlatte

                Yeah, if I find that I haven't let it sit long enough, a couple of good whacks with the pin usually loosens it up enough.

            3. Here is some pie troubleshooting help - http://www.piemaven.com/troubleshooti...

              * what type of fat did/do you use? I normally use all shortening most of the time, but I have found that when I do a butter/shortening combo it is sometimes easier to roll.

              * agree that you may be trying to roll the dough when it is too cold.

              * how much liquid are you incorporating? You could also be using too little liquid so that the dough doesn't have sufficient to hydrate well enough to roll.

              21 Replies
              1. re: DiningDiva

                I usually stick to Smart Balance because of cholesterol issues. I let my dough warm up but that did not solve the problem. And I always use the most liquid called for in the recipe, which is a few tablespoons.

                1. re: Nikki NYC

                  Margaine is simply bad in pie. Either splurge on the butter or use a recipe for Crisco, which IMHO is also gross tasting in pie but will give a better texutre.

                  1. re: JudiAU

                    Ugh, I agree. I think Crisco is even grosser than margarine, though. If you must have a low-cholesterol fat in your pie crust, I'd try an oil-based recipe or try using coconut oil (which is solid when cold) in a butter/solid fat based recipe.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      I use the Crisco product made for baking and it I think it makes a fine piecrust.

                      I used to use corn oil magarine for piecrust, and it was quite good.

                      There are probably a million ways to make piecrust. Honestly, I'd never use butter in a piecrust, and I never heard of doing so until just recently. I've been making pies since the 1960s.

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        I have coconut oil!! Does it really work?

                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                          I have not tried it but I believe it would be far better than Smart Balance.

                      2. re: Nikki NYC

                        Add a tablespoon or two more. it won't hurt. you'll know it if you go over (and you can add more flour if needed -- harder than adding more water, but still pretty easy.).

                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                          I'm confused, you are following these recipes "to the letter," but are subbing the fat with Smart Balance?
                          I wouldn't expect the results to be similar in any way.

                          1. re: wyogal

                            Agreed. I trust crisco shortening. I've done butter crusts. But Smart Balance? Seems weird.

                            1. re: wyogal

                              See how dumb I am at this pie baking business? I had no idea the type of fat mattered! Oops. I have a non-hydrogenated shortening I could use. Would that work? What about the coconut oil?

                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                If it's solid at room temp, you're probably fine.

                                1. re: Nikki NYC

                                  I just use butter, a wholesome ingredient, and limit my intake of crusts. Moderation.
                                  Fat is a big deal in baking, especially crusts. Have you googled recipes? There are tons out there that use coconut oil.

                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                    How much pie do you make/eat that using butter or even lard would be a health issue? I mean, a stick of butter divided into 6 or 8 servings, once in a while, is not really an issue. Assuming that cholesterol from food is really that big an issue anyway, and assuming that cholesterol (in the broad sense) is really the issue that Big PharmA wants you to think it is. The research is finding that it is more a question of LDL-P (actual number of LDL particles)/mMol and whether or not your lipids are "discordant" and not just a matter of numbers. Read Barbara Roberts (M.D.) The Truth About Statins and then enjoy your pie dough made with butter.

                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                      I've eaten a quarter of a pie, per day, for months.
                                      /lazy

                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                        My husband could do that, too! But honestly, most people don't eat that much pie, and if they do, well I guess they aren't all that worried about their health given all the sugar, fat, flour...

                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                          it makes a good breakfast and lunch. i don't see the problem.

                                      2. re: Just Visiting

                                        On your suggestion, I got this book from the library and am very glad I read it. She advises people to follow a mediterranean diet instead of taking meds like statins. Even tho I love pepperoni, salami, mortadella, etc, I'm going to try very hard to avoid cured meats. I'm also making a real effort to eat more fish and trying to learn how to cook it. Tonight I made fresh, wild King Salmon filets, they were perfect, not fishy BUT $20 lb, so to feed 3, it cost me $29. But, the same meal in a restaurant would have cost much more. Somehow, I don't like the fresh wild Sockeye from Costco.

                                  2. re: Nikki NYC

                                    I think that the melting point of regular Smart Balance is too low, and light Smart Balance is too high.

                                    Traditionally used in pies:
                                    Lard: 30°C (below body temp of 37°C)
                                    Crisco: 47-48°C
                                    Butter: 32–35°C

                                    Hmmmmmm.... I just noticed the melting point of cocoa butter is 34 - 38°C. I wonder......

                                    1. re: soychicka

                                      Someone posted about using peanut oil on this thread.
                                      Maybe liquids do work?? I 'unno...

                                      1. re: soychicka

                                        Cocoa butter has different properties that will yield quite surprisingly different results, because of its different fat composition. Unlike the 3 fats above, it's hard and crystalline at room temperature, not plastic. So it doesn't "cut" in in the same way. The beta(VI) phase crystal form of cocoa butter (which is the normal one for tempering) has a nominal melting point of 36° C.

                                        The upshot of all this is that cocoa butter will behave somewhat more like suet. You won't get the same amount of flakiness and, baked, the result will be tougher unless you use a hot-water method. It could work for a steamed crust, although I've never attempted that with cocoa butter.

                                  3. I made a pie earlier this week and rolled it out on my silicone baking mat. This made it quite easy to get the rolled out dough into the pie pan with minimum damage.

                                    For what it's worth I use smitten kitchens recipe for an all butter pie crust and mix by hand.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: corneygirl

                                      I don't like to use silicon for my own unscientific crazy reasons. But I looove the recipes from Smitten Kitchen.

                                      1. re: wyogal

                                        and I am still recommending this... if stuff is dry, add water, if it's wet, add flour.

                                        1. re: wyogal

                                          Yup. Adding more water may make the crust slightly tougher, but it will let you get it made. I do food processor + a little bit more water for everything except Thanksgiving and other special occasions; then I may pull out the pastry blender, do the whole butter-in-the-freezer, ice-in-the-water, fancypants shebang. I don't do vodka because I don't tend to have the stuff on hand.

                                          Another tip: make a pie crust recipe one pie size bigger -- it's easier to roll out that way, you don't need to make it perfectly round, because you can cut some off. Then you can make cookies from the extra (sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or turn into jelly-roll-type cookies) or add shapes to the top of a pie that doesn't have a top-crust, or just throw it out.

                                          Get comfortable making an OK pie crust before you aim for perfection.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            FYI, I've used Earth Balance (not smart balance) vegan baking sticks for pies for vegan guests, and those work A-OK. I don't know how those stack up for your diet needs, but while they're not as delicious as butter, they make a fine pie crust.

                                            1. re: antimony

                                              I don't need the help in making crusts. The OP did, and I use butter.

                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                For some reason that reply appeared somewhere entirely different from where I tried to post it. :) It was to one of the OPs comments, a few threads above.

                                          2. My mom has been making this pie crust for years. Last Thanksgiving, I taped her rolling it out. She doesn't use a food processor. The recipe is crazy simple--from our family friend Peggy:

                                            PEGGY’S OIL PIE DOUGH

                                            2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                                            1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                                            1/3 cup cold water
                                            1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon corn oil

                                            Grab a 9″ pie plate and cut wax paper to overhang the plate. You’ll use this as a template to roll the dough.

                                            Whisk together flour and salt. Make a well at the bottom of the bowl. Pour water into oil, then pour both into flour mixture. Stir together with a fork until just combined and dough begins to pull away from the bowl. At this point, you may have a few bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl. You can gently, and briefly, knead the dough by hand to get it all combined. But once it is, stop–don’t overwork it! Divide the dough in two.

                                            Now, it’s time to roll. This is the part where I really need to learn, so I documented with video. Here’s my mom demonstrating–part one:
                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfjh8c...

                                            And part two:
                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ4aAp...

                                            Hope this helps!

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                              And here I was thinking I was last of my family line using the corn oil stir and roll with wax paper. But I still use the original Mazola recipe that calls for milk instead of water. Great crust. Glad to hear it hasn't gone by the wayside like I thought.

                                              1. re: miss_belle

                                                It's a classic. And maybe a southern thing, if I had to guess. Peggy hails from Florida but is as much a Yankee as the rest of us by now, all these years later. :)

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  Ha! And tell your mom she's a rock star in those videos. I never thought to flour the inside wax paper and then sliding/rolling out on a dry counter. I always dampened the surface to grip and fight the wax paper every step of the way.

                                                  1. re: miss_belle

                                                    :) I shall pass that along. Whattakick! :) Thank you.

                                              2. re: kattyeyes

                                                Enjoyed the videos. My favorite oil for the oil crust recipe is LouAna peanut oil. Makes the crust extra tender and gives a very slight nutty flavor.

                                                1. re: deekaa

                                                  Oooh, that's a neat idea. Thanks for sharing!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Omg, just watched the video. I love your mom and the stencil and the pie plate!!! I want to make pie with her!!! Did you find the bird? Lol!

                                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                      :) Aww, thanks so much! I'll let my mom know she has a new friend in the city. She would probably love to visit you, HA HA HA! And yes, I found the pie bird AFTER Thanksgiving. Here 'tis this morning with April Katt in the background...still awaiting its maiden voyage in a pie.

                                                      The one from my growing up years was a blackbird. I really wish I could find THAT one.

                                                       
                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                        I have the white one!! My sis gave it to me. I'll think of you and your mom when I use it!

                                                    2. re: kattyeyes

                                                      kattyeyes, thanks so much for sharing these videos. I just roll my crust out on a board with lots of flour, and it is always a mess. Never thought of wax paper, even though I always have some on hand. You have just given me a quantum leap in my crust making for the future!

                                                    3. If it cracks, it's either too cold (let rest on the counter for a while) or there's not enough liquid (you can spray a bit=--and I do mean a bit--of water) on and try patching or pushing the cracked part together. Every flour is different, so the amount of liquid you use one time may not be appropriate the next. Kind of have to get a feel for the dough.

                                                      1. I think the cheap vodka works fine and you can use it to make vanilla essence or use it as natural febreez and cleaning in general.

                                                        1. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who invented the vodka technique, now does a different method where he pulses to a paste in the food processor, then adds some more flour and whirs it just enough to mix. So there is a mix of fully buttered flour and barely coated flour. See Serious Eats website for details.

                                                          I use this method, but still add a bit of vodka instead of some of the water. I find that using too much vodka makes the dough so soft that it falls apart when I try to transfer to the pie plate.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                            Kenji's all-water recipe uses the same method as the Cook's Illustrated vodka crust (which he worked on when he worked for them) - in both cases, you make a flour and butter paste with all of the fat and 2/3 or so of the flour, then pulse in the remaining flour lightly before adding the liquid. With or without vodka, it's that method that makes these doughs so easy to handle and flaky without ever toughening.

                                                            1. re: sbp

                                                              I wonder if that is why my dough wasn't as good as usual last time. Even though it calls for 1/4 cup of vodka, there is usually some left. I think I must have been in a hurry.

                                                              1. re: sbp

                                                                I tried Kenji's vodka-less recipe for Thanksgiving, and it worked really well but I think I will stick with my regular recipe. Ha! I am a creature of habit.

                                                                I agree, the main problem is usually that the dough is too dry. But I think if you were using margarine, that is the biggest problem.

                                                                My grandma and mom swear by all crisco, with an egg and a spoonful of vinegar, made by hand at room temperature (except for egg and water). I think crisco is much easier than butter. I don't think they refrigerate it between mixing and rolling out. I would consider trying all crisco or other shortening, including coconut oil, before moving into butter territory, unless you are going to try Kenji's technique.

                                                                If you use a regular recipe with a food processor, use pulse to break up the pieces offat. Some people recommend taking it out of the food processor once the fat is in, and adding the water by hand. I think this is probably a good idea.

                                                                1. re: willownt

                                                                  Willow, would you mind posting your regular recipe, please.

                                                              2. I my experience, the hardest part of pasty making is adding the right amount of liquid. Most recipes err on the side of too little liquid. Make sure your pastry holds together before you form it into a disk.

                                                                1. Food processor really isn't a good way to make pie dough. Tart dough or crostata dough or many other doughs, yes. But pie dough is almost always over mixed. You are much better off with a simple pastry blender or even two knives. Cracking can be the result of too little water. It is okay to fudge a little and add more.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                                                    I have to disagree here. The food processor and the CI/Kenji method makes a great pie crust, with very little work, and the results are consistent and easy to duplicate.

                                                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                                                      Throwing all the ingredients for a pie crust in the food processor and mixing = not a good technique.

                                                                      The CI/Kenji method of mixing flour and fat in a food processor in stages = great technique. Try it out.

                                                                      1. re: JudiAU

                                                                        I have a pastry blender. Never really understood the two-knife thing.

                                                                      2. julia child's pie crust. i never use any other.

                                                                        1.33 cups flour
                                                                        1.25 sticks butter (COLD COLD COLD! and chopped into chunks)
                                                                        2 tablespoons shortening
                                                                        1 teaspoon salt (unless your butter is salted, in which case omit this)
                                                                        0.33 cups water (COLD COLD COLD! i run it as cold as i can out of the tap, then put in a couple ice cubes for several minutes)

                                                                        pulse everything in the food processor JUST until it comes together. handle everything as minimally as possible to keep things cold (have you noticed COLD is a big thing with me?). i don't always add all the water right off - it can vary with ambient humidity etc, and it's easier to put more in than it is to take some out.

                                                                        makes 1 double or 2 single crusts. make sure to flour surface and rolling pin thoroughly when rolling out.

                                                                        good luck!

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                            There's no way that 1 and 1/3 cups of flour makes a double crust pie crust. It has to be at least 2 cups, or you'll never get it to roll out enough.

                                                                            1. re: gildeddawn

                                                                              guess all my past pies have been either failures or defiant of the laws of existence, then. this has always worked peachy for me.

                                                                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                Maybe 9" pie??? If I'm going to all this trouble, I'm making a big a** pie, 10" or a galette!

                                                                                1. re: blaireso

                                                                                  i've never had a problem with it: this past weekend i tried my mom's recipe, which is 1 cup flour, 1 stick cold butter, and 4.5 tbsp of ice water. i found that rolled out a single shell (with scraps to spare!) for my quiche with no hassle. i used the same (1 cup flour, 1 stick cold butter, 4.5 tbsp of ice water) for 2 full-size galettes (1 recipe crust/galette), again easily and with scraps left over. it's worth noting i usually roll my crust fairly thin... easier now that my boyfriend finally bought a rolling pin for me to use at his place. i had been gimping along rolling this stuff out with a wine bottle!

                                                                          2. Wesson Oil Stir and Roll Pie Pastry

                                                                            It's not as flaky as a conventional one, but it usually turns out better than a bad conventional one. Here's the recipe.
                                                                            .
                                                                            I've made this one a number of times, it's really easy.
                                                                            .
                                                                            .
                                                                            Wesson Oil Stir and Roll Pie Pastry (single and double crust)
                                                                            .
                                                                            Stir-N-Roll Single Crust Recipe
                                                                            .
                                                                            Preheat oven to 475-F, a very hot oven. Sift flour before measuring.
                                                                            Use level measurements for all ingredients.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Measure into a mixing bowl --
                                                                            1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
                                                                            1 teaspoon salt
                                                                            .
                                                                            Add all at once --
                                                                            3/8 cup (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Wesson Oil. (I use any kind of vegetable oil)
                                                                            3 tablespoons milk
                                                                            .
                                                                            Stir with fork until pastry clings together.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Press into a ball, flatten slightly, and place between 2 sheets of waxed paper (12-inch squares).
                                                                            .
                                                                            Roll out gently until circle reaches edges of paper (if bottom paper wrinkles, turn over, straighten and continue rolling).
                                                                            .
                                                                            Peel off top paper, then pick up pastry and bottom paper by one edge (they will cling together).
                                                                            .
                                                                            Place, paper-side up, over 8 or 9 inch pie pan. Then loosen pastry at edges and carefully peel off paper.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Ease pastry snugly into place. Finish edge as desired and prick bottom and side thoroughly with table fork.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Bake on lower rack in pre-heated oven 8 - 10 minutes, until golden brown.
                                                                            .
                                                                            .
                                                                            Stir-N-Roll Double Crust Recipe
                                                                            .
                                                                            Use--
                                                                            2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
                                                                            1 1/2 teaspoons salt
                                                                            1/2 cup Wesson Oil (I use any kind of vegetable oil)
                                                                            1/4 cup cold milk
                                                                            .
                                                                            Follow single crust directions for mixing. Round up dough. Divide in half, flatten slightly.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Roll out halves between pieces of waxed paper (as above).
                                                                            .
                                                                            Line pie pan with bottom crust, fill, cover with top crust.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Seal by pressing edges gently with fork, or fluting.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Snip 3 or 4 small slits near center.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Bake pies, such as apple, in a pre-heated hot oven, 425-F., for 40 - 45 minutes.
                                                                            .
                                                                            Source: Wesson Oil newspaper ad; December 8, 1950

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                I use this as my default pie crust, since butter crusts are usually off-limits for me as most of my baking needs to be non-dairy. Replacing the milk with soy/almond milk works well. I like to add a tablespoon of sugar for sweet pies. I agree that any vegetable oil is fine here.

                                                                              2. I used to use the CI vodka recipe, but it always came out a bit too wet for my liking. I like Kenji's newer recipe/method using a combo of butter and shortening, and I still replace a couple tablespoons of water with vodka. If you just want to try it with vodka, most liquor stores usually have a couple different brands of the mini bottles for less than $2.
                                                                                http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                                                1. Here is a pie crust recipe that I now use & it has never failed me. Please don't be offended by the website name, very nice man with some good recipes.

                                                                                  Very simple, no mess & just darn works! Just watch the part where he is making the dough. The hand pie part is awfully long winded.

                                                                                  http://www.white-trash-cooking.com/pd...

                                                                                  Here is a method I use to roll out my dough.

                                                                                  Get a heavy pillowcase, old one is ok, just wash & rinse well, but leave out fabric softener on it - don't want perfumed dough! Don't use one of those lighter weight cases, 100 percent cotton is ideal, if you happen to have one. I found mine at the thrift store & just washed very well before using.

                                                                                  Sprinkle pillowcase heavily with flour, roll out your pie dough on it. Won't stick. After finishing the crust, just shake out excess flour, fold up, place in a quart freezer baggie & store in freezer. No mess on counter, pillow case will be nice & cold so your dough won't melt & fast cleanup!

                                                                                  Also, I have found I have best luck with the disposable tin pie shells to bake in. I get the 9 inch ones. I don't reuse them, but they make one time garbage plates, so you don't feel so wasteful when disposing.

                                                                                  I too have spent many years & much money trying different recipes, methods, gadgets & whatnot.

                                                                                  Now I use one of those long rolling pins that is straight across, not tapered on the end. The long size covers the whole crust & makes a more round crust too. Roll from center out, always! I am actually ashamed to think of how much money/time was spent in conquering pie dough.

                                                                                  Now my equipment is minimal, I have perfect crust & people always eat the entire slice of pie without leaving a crumb, no bits of pie crust left on the plate. I am finally at peace.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                    I love your technique! Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                      You can also use a linen tea towel. And, Marie Callendar's pie tins are the perfect size and weight. I keep a few around, and they're great for breading fish, etc. Just don't stick in dishwasher or the finish gets ruined.

                                                                                      The big, single diameter rolling pins are great, but so are the tapered, french rolling pins that are thicker in the middle--useful if you need to get the crust thinner. If I was to just have one, I'd choose the single diameter one. They make great weapons, too :)

                                                                                    2. I can help you - I make virtually all types of pie crust imaginable, - "flaky" pastry (paté brisée), "rough puff" pastry, classic puff pastry, hot-water pastry, fillo, you name it, I've done it. By hand. From scratch.

                                                                                      I'll start by assuming you're trying to make a fairly typical flaky pastry. Please tell me if you're trying something else.

                                                                                      The first thing to get out of your mind is "follow every single instruction to the letter" - at least in the sense of imagining that this will lead you algorithmically and inevitably to a good result. You've already experienced the fact that this is simply not the case.

                                                                                      Second, ditch the food processor. Pie crust calls for gentle treatment, and the food processor is just too forceful, in general - spinning the dough at too high of a speed. You gain almost nothing in terms of effort anyway. More critically, however, if you're not working the dough with your hands, you're not getting any feedback about its consistency, so you have to guess whether the dough is appropriately formed, hydrated, etc. That may be a lot of your problem - you're going at it blind and trusting in a recipe to get the consistency right, when there are simply too many variables for a recipe to be fail-safe.

                                                                                      The next thing I will ask is, what fat are you using? For this type of pastry there are basically 3 common choices:
                                                                                      Butter
                                                                                      Lard
                                                                                      Solid vegetable fat
                                                                                      Personally I find that the last one leads to an unpleasant greasy-pasty flavour, so I don't typically use it, but all 3 of the above can produce good results. Butter is the most temperamental. You can freely uses mixes of any of the 3 to create different effects. In general butter has the best flavour and yields the crispest results, lard gives the flakiest texture, vegetable fat is the easiest to work with. The critical distinction, though, is that butter has some water in it - which ever-so-slightly changes the amount of water you need in your crust.

                                                                                      To cut the fat into the flour, I find two knifes are more effective than a pastry cutter, but the cutter approach is also perfectly acceptable. You want to keep a reasonable size of fat pieces, but don't make them too big. The biggest pieces should be about the size of peas. At this point the dough will look like a very coarse meal. Particularly in France, it's common to actually rub the fat into the flour, using your hands - this does flatten the bits and possibly yield a marginally flakier result, when using all butter, but I've never found this to be necessary.

                                                                                      Now, add your water. This is the stage where judgement and feeling have to be applied. Unless you are a professional baker with exact control of which flour and which fat you have, and your ambient temperature/humidity in the room you're working in, you've got to judge by feel. Where you want to get to at this point is to a stage where the dough just barely clumps together. Add the water slowly, distribute it by sprinking or spraying (i.e. don't just pour it into the centre), and mix with a very light touch at each addition. A sort of "tossing" motion with a large fork is very effective. Once you start to see clumps forming, you will need to work it with your hands, very lightly, and don't keep your hands too long in the dough in any event. Mix and press lightly until the dough appears to be starting to ball. The critical thing here is to ensure that the mixing is relatively uniform - that there isn't a pile of un-watered flour hiding at the bottom of the bowl or in the centre of the ball - because if there is it will defeat your efforts.

                                                                                      Having done this, put the dough in the fridge, covered with a towel, and leave it for a while - at least 10 minutes and up to 30. This will hydrate the dough, allowing the water to penetrate - I suspect there's a good chance this is where your problem lies - and making it much more workable. Don't let it get too cold, however, or it will become difficult to work; if it feels stiff and clay-like when you take it out, leave it to warm for 10 minutes or so.

                                                                                      Once you take it out, try pressing it again. If it's still reluctant to truly ball, add water very sparingly until a ball forms - but don't add any more water than strictly necessary to get it to hold its shape. Some clumps falling off the ball are perfectly OK.

                                                                                      Now, roll. I have a marble slab, which makes the job very easy, and a very heavy rolling pin, which again eases the job, but again any flat surface will do and almost any pin is adequate, provided it's large enough. Your surface should be very well-floured indeed; a light dusting is not what's called for here but almost a layer (this is doubly true when making puff pastry, for which continuous flouring is de rigueur) When rolling absolutely do NOT put any weight on the pin at all. Don't push it down. It's the weight of the rolling pin itself that should roll the dough; your hands are only there to guide the direction. Any strong force is likely to cause the dough to fall apart.

                                                                                      You should not expect a lovely, circular shape or a smooth, satiny appearance. The dough will look ugly - lumpy, with very ragged edges, only roughly in the shape of a circle at best. At the edges some minor cracking or separation is normal. That's fine; these will disappear when you crimp the top and bottom (for a 2-crust pie) or trim it (for a one-crust pie) If the only cracking you've been getting is at the edges, you've been worrying yourself over nothing. Work quickly, giving the dough light quarter-turns, and rolling from the centre. The finished side needs to protrude *well* beyond the border of the pie plate, allowing also for depth in the bottom crust - 2-3 cm on all sides is a safe margin.

                                                                                      Lifting the crust once rolled is itself a bit of a challenge; it will just be holding itself together so you need to provide almost complete support underneath. With VERY large crusts you can fold the round in quarter, place the quarter so that the point is in the centre of the pie plate, and (carefully) unfold.

                                                                                      As mentioned, your cracking problem is likely coming either from 1) Insufficient time allowed for the dough to hydrate; 2) Incorrect flour-water ratio because of the use of a food processor; 3) Pressing too hard on the dough once ready to roll. There is also a small chance, if you're fridging it after mixing but before rolling, that you're allowing it to get too cold.

                                                                                      I would resist "tricks" like vodka, simply because they're unnecessary and may perpetuate bad technique - which isn't solving anything in the long run.

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                        Your post is very comprehensive and informative. However:

                                                                                        "ditch the food processor... More critically, however, if you're not working the dough with your hands, you're not getting any feedback about its consistency, so you have to guess whether the dough is appropriately formed, HYDRATED, etc. "
                                                                                        _________

                                                                                        Try out the recipe before dismissing it. I know you haven't tried it out because the water is NOT added while the dough is in the food processor. That would indeed create excess gluten and an unpleasant result. The food processor method mentioned above is strictly a method of mixing the flour and fat together. The water is added later by hand, and can be adjusted by feel to adjust for humidity, choice of fat, or flour used (though interestingly, because of the way the fat and flour are mixed there winds up being less variation in how much water you need).

                                                                                        - It is NOT the only good way to make a (pate brisee style) pie crust
                                                                                        - It is NOT less work than other methods

                                                                                        What it is: the most consistent and reproducible way to get excellent results if you don't have decades of experience (and possibly even if you do). It removes much of the human error from the process.
                                                                                        http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...
                                                                                        http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/07...

                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                          The OP didn't give a specific recipe, so I had to guess with respect to what she was trying to do. Where I've seen people use a food processor it's been for all steps of the process.

                                                                                          However, even so, I'd expect poorer results from a food processor, because it would tend to break the fat into extremely uniform particle size, which isn't exactly what's wanted; you want a distribution of particle sizes. I also wonder whether the heat from the food processor might not partially melt the fat. The other problem I can foresee comes back to the problem of no direct feedback; it would be difficult, with the mixture spinning at high speeds, to judge exactly when to stop. I suppose you could do a lot of short pulses, but that starts to seem to me a lot like trying to find an excuse to use your kitchen gadget.

                                                                                          That said, I've never thought about using a food processor only to cut in fat - so you're right that with such a specific approach I can't speak from experience. I don't see, though, what would make it more "consistent and reproducible" - certainly not if you're pulsing. Can you explain what in your opinion causes it to be more consistent?

                                                                                          1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                            "The OP didn't give a specific recipe, so I had to guess with respect to what she was trying to do."
                                                                                            __
                                                                                            My reading comprehension seems to be getting worse with age. The OP's Martha Stewart style pie dough where all the ingredients are mixed in a FP is indeed a poor technique, and you were right to criticize it. Apologies.

                                                                                            "even so, I'd expect poorer results from a food processor, because it would tend to break the fat into extremely uniform particle size... you want a distribution of particle sizes... Can you explain what in your opinion causes it to be more consistent?"
                                                                                            ___________
                                                                                            The second link I posted in my post explains better than I could. That said, here are the basics:

                                                                                            - The first, longer series of pulses mixes all of the fat into most of the flour. Very evenly. You create a kind of fat/flour paste that naturally separates into crumbs. This part is hard to screw up. You're basically just thoroughly incorporating flour and fat.

                                                                                            - The second, much shorter, series of pulses mixes the remaining flour around this paste. The idea is not to further blend flour and fat, but to coat the paste crumbs in the remaining flour, disperse them evenly.

                                                                                            - This is admittedly a bit different than how traditional pie crust is made because in traditional pie crust the fat globules are never fully mixed with flour. However, it has the same effect as a very well made pie crust. The paste globules don't absorb water (once added) while the less incorporated flour does. And when the dough is rolled out and baked, the layers of hydrated (more glutinous) flour with fatty paste in between creates flakiness.

                                                                                            - It's consistent and easy for a beginner because it minimizes the chance of so many of the pitfalls of other methods of mixing the dough - melting the butter, over-incorporating the fat (not flaky enough), under-incorporating the fat (too tough). All that comes down to pressing the pulse button 5 times. Also, since the flour/fat incorporation is very consistent in this recipe, the amount of water used is also more consistent, which helps people who don't have a feel for how moist a pie dough should be.

                                                                                            1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                              I must agree with you- I had a nightmare with pastry doughs until I ditched the fp & started using my hands & simple implements. I slowly learned to feel the progression of the pastry to get a much nicer result. And, I didn't have that PIA fp to wash up afterwards!

                                                                                          2. re: AlexRast

                                                                                            Thank you for your response. I really appreciate the detail. I use Smart Balance due to cholesterol issues. I will follow your directions on my next attempt.

                                                                                            1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                              I looked up the Smart Balance site and there are a bewildering array of different fat formulations on there. Can you be more specific about which one you're using? I say this because it could have a significant impact. The "regular" Smart Balance wouldn't really be appropriate for pie because it's a mix of mostly liquid oils which will behave quite differently when blended from the truly solid fats. In fact, it could be the source of your problem; if the liquid fats are coating the flour particles it could inhibit adequate water absorption and hence lead to cracking. I would definitely experiment with a true hard fat - regardless of cholesterol issues - to see how the results differ.

                                                                                              The important take-home message here is that in many recipes you can't just arbitrarily substitute ingredients that appear to be similar and expect identical or even good results. Many recipes and indeed foods generally, are quite exacting in what they require; this applies particularly to baking. At best it may require a change of ratios; at worst getting a decent result may be infeasible.

                                                                                              1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                I was using the sticks but that ship has sailed. I think I'll be using butter from now on.

                                                                                              2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                My mother once made a cheesecake and omitted the butter from the crust because she had cholesterol issues.

                                                                                                Seriously. All things in moderation. Unless you eat an entire pie every day, the amount of butter in a pie crust is not going to be an issue.

                                                                                                Baking is not like cooking. It really is a chemistry thing and you really can't substitute the basic ingredients that are needed for certain reactions or for certain properties. If your cholesterol problem is so severe that you can't eat even this minimal amount of butter, find a different way to enjoy fruit-based bake goods, such as cobblers, which typically have less crust/topping and therefore less butter.

                                                                                            2. FWIW, my momma was a prolific and very happy baker... but couldn't make a flaky pastry to save her life. (she doesn't bake much any more due to health issues). My observation is that she was often in a "rush", and also had a lot of anxiety about making a perfect pastry... and so did not let her intuition guide her work. She also doesn't make yeast doughs, for the same reasons.

                                                                                              1. For me, the resting phase turned out to be the key to it all.

                                                                                                We live in a dry climate, hot in summer; cold in winter. Dunno why, but once I started making pastry the day before, leaving it overnight in a cool place (fridge or cold spot on the counter) then my pastry experience turned a corner.

                                                                                                Try a simple recipe and rest it overnight. Eureka!

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: applgrl

                                                                                                  That was going to be my suggestion. I used to get frustrated with pie making until I started making crusts one day and the pies another. Up to four days as discs in the refrigerator, or I'll freeze for longer than that. Has saved me some sanity come Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                2. Toss the food pro, make the short paste (pastry dough) by hand.

                                                                                                  The first part of making a perfect pate brisee is the ratio of fat to flour, that is 4 (four) parts fat to 5 (five) parts flour. If your using Ap (all purpose) flour, using all butter will make a brittle crust, using 1 part lard will make the crust tender. A dough made with lard rather than butter is my preference for most fruit pies.

                                                                                                  The recipe I use is:

                                                                                                  4.25 (1 cup) ounce king Arthur AP flour
                                                                                                  4 tablespoons butter
                                                                                                  1 1/2 tablespoons lard
                                                                                                  2 - 3 tablespoons cold water
                                                                                                  a pinch of kosher salt and sugar.

                                                                                                  Blend the salt and sugar into the flour on a pastry or cutting board, work the fat into the flour with your finger tips until it has a texture akin to corn meal.

                                                                                                  Add a tablespoon of cold water and need briefly adding a tablespoon at a time just until the dough comes together.

                                                                                                  With the heal of your hand press the dough across the board to fully incorporate the fat and flour, wrap in cling wrap and chill for about two hours.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Master

                                                                                                    I'll ditch the fp, but lard isn't my thing.

                                                                                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                      There have been studies that show lard has cholesterol-lowering properties.

                                                                                                  2. My pie crusts are perfect :) I use chilled butter, cut it up into chunks, and then work the butter into the flour (which is also chilled, because I live in the tropics and have to store it in the freezer) with my fingers. Slowly. Carefully. Mindfully. Brushing my thumb across my fingers, to make little flakes.

                                                                                                    When the mixture is like coarse cornmeal, I add a tablespoon or so of hard liquor (I've been using tequila, because that's all I've got), toss the mixture with my fingers to mix, then turn on the kitchen faucet (cold water) so that it is a slow drip. I put the bowl into the sink and let the water drip into the bowl, tossing the whole time. When the mixture comes together (just when it hits this point, not after) it is ready to be rolled out. I'm usually in a hurry, so I don't stop to chill the dough. Still seems to work for me. I roll it out on a plastic mat and roll it up on the rolling pin to transfer to the pie.

                                                                                                    It's all in FEELING when the butter is well distributed, and when you've added just enough liquid. Measuring the liquid never worked for me.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Felila

                                                                                                      Sounds yoga-like. Love it! Thanks!

                                                                                                    2. Ok, I have recovered from yesterday. I can't tell you how grateful I am for all of the sage advice. I truly believe you all have helped me, and I will stay true to my word and give it another go. I will ditch my food processor this time. But, I do have a question. A few of you have recommended tossing the dough with water until it comes together. Please forgive me if this seems like a stupid question, but how does the dough come together ifyounare tossing it? This step just isn't making sense to my tiny, frustrated brain. And, just out of curiosity, how does Martha get it right every time with the food processor? Hmmm......

                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                        It's a game about humidity. How much has your flour absorbed?
                                                                                                        Weigh it and find out. A good baker (read one who makes pies every day) can feel the humidity in the room and know how much to use.

                                                                                                        If it's cracking it's too dry. Put it back in the food processor, crumble it to bits, and add more water. Water makes the flour into something like a paste, and that sticks to itself.

                                                                                                        If you have to redo the crust three or four times in the mixer, relax, we won't tell. It will be FINE, no one will know the difference! (provided you use tapioca in the filling! Chef's secret for a good pie crust is to not let it get too soggy afterwards!)

                                                                                                        Also, to save yourself pain while learning, start by making lattice crusts. It's far easier to try rolling out just half the dough, and then cutting lines with the rest.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                          Thanks! Love the lattice recommendation!

                                                                                                        2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                          Martha gets it right through practice and the magic of television. However, you too can get it right every time with the food processor if you use the right technique - and sorry, Martha, yours isn't it. The Kenji Lopez-Alt technique will get you there every time. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                            I'll try the Kenji technique at some point.

                                                                                                          2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                            As you toss the dough to distribute the water, it starts to clump. There may still be a little flour left in the bottom of the bowl. Scoop it up and dampen it. The clumps of dough will start clinging together. Try squeezing them together (lightly). If the dough forms one ball, it's ready to roll out.

                                                                                                            If you were here in my kitchen, I could show you. I could put your hands in the bowl so that you could feel the moment when the consistency was just right.

                                                                                                            Since you're not here, you're going to have to experiment. That means too wet one time, too dry the next time. Remember how the dough felt at those times and try again. Do not be discouraged by the failures; they are part of the cook's learning process.

                                                                                                            1. re: Felila

                                                                                                              The over all message I'm getting is to experiment and try to get som confidence. Thanks.

                                                                                                            2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                              AlexRast gives you a brilliant description. When we say "toss" what we're talking about is taking a fork and mixing lightly from the edges into the center of the bowl. I whisk the flour and salt together, chill and cut in the COLD fats until pea sized, then pour onto the counter. I frequently skip the bowl altogether, a flexible cutting board works just fine. Make a well in the center, like you do for pasta, pour in about half the water, then gradually pull flour into the wet center. Continue until the flour has absorbed the moisture--not too much! I usually use a bench scraper instead of a fork. it really is a tossing motion, don't think of flinging flour, more like gently scrambling eggs. After all water is incorporated, I generally go through the soggy mass with my fingers and briefly rub the fat into the flour--not so much that it becomes smeary. Knead briefly, it will smooth out. Then divide into 10-12 oz. patties or thereabouts, wrap in plastic and chill. Since I make more than one at a time, I freeze them so that I've got them available to use after thawing a day ahead.

                                                                                                            3. Just go buy one. They make really good pre-made pie crusts these days. Check Trader Joe's.

                                                                                                              Life's too short too sweat these things.

                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                No, thank you. I get a lot of pleasure making things from scratch with my toddler and I also like to control the ingredients. I know that when I figure this out it's going to be a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                  Good for you, Nikki NYC. With your attitude, you'll be a pie pro in no time!

                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                    Thanks! I love baking and making things homemade. It is so much fun with my little guy standing next to me at the counter on a chair, and I like to know what's in my food particularly because I am a breast cancer survivor. We love getting getting flour everywhere!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                      Rock on, sista! Wishing you continued good health and happy baking. I myself enjoy a good quest as well--whether trying to find something obscure, or mastering a technique or recipe. It does spoil you for eating out or buying other people's baked goods, as I'm sure you know. :)

                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                        Totally! And I can't even eat much of what I bake because I'm supposed to eat low fat, but it beats the alternative, huh? ;-)

                                                                                                              2. Forget the vodka... pick up a bottle of Everclear, highest proof you can get your hands on, and you can dilute it if you need to substitute for a lower proof alcohol.

                                                                                                                You won't be tempted to drink it (hopefully), and there are tons of other uses for it...

                                                                                                                You can use it to make your own flavour extracts (e.g., vanilla extract, cinnamon extract), you can add it to dishes to help release flavour.

                                                                                                                Heck, you can even use it to make your own perfume and deodorant, to disinfect wounds and any dishes that have sat unwashed for too long, as a source of energy for cooking while camping, and to clean just about anything, just think about anywhere you might use the far stinkier isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).

                                                                                                                As for getting a tender, flaky crust, at all times when handling your dough, touch it as little as possible to keep the fat from melting prematurely at your body temperature (which will keep it from being flaky).... and don't bother making your own crust if it's over 85F in your kitchen.

                                                                                                                Although I'm not at liberty to share my great-great-grandfather's pie crust recipe (he was a danish baker), but I can share my great-aunt's admonition - treat it as gently as you would a baby's bottom.

                                                                                                                (Of course, I'm fairly certain I would neither shake a baby nor put it in the fridge or a hot oven... but when it comes to rolling out the dough or lining the pie tin, 'tis sage advice.)

                                                                                                                And if you don't want to change the recipe itself, perhaps spritzing on some everclear from a spray bottle would help if the dough cracks while rolling.

                                                                                                                1. Nikki, I am in the same place as you. I am a good baker, but pies are my downfall. The crust often cracks and usually ends up being a calamity. I think I do not add enough water. I did buy myself a pie mat and have made some progress rolling it out but still not perfect. You might want to check out a blog called The Art of the Pie, with Kate McDermott. She has a pie camp and has written for some of the food magazines. I will post you her link, she has a video on how to make crust. If I had a bucket list I would add attending her pie camp, it looks like a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                  http://www.artofthepie.com/artofthepi...

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                    Thanks so much. Her web site is fantastic. Wish I could go to pie camp, too!

                                                                                                                  2. I have two ideas:
                                                                                                                    First, try the vodka technique. It really works. You can buy a small bottle for about $4.00 and it last forever -- use it just for pie crusts.

                                                                                                                    Second, one of the frozen unbaked crusts -- the one with the mostly yellow plastic wrap that comes two crusts to a package in aluminum foil tins -- is as good as anyone needs for pie crust. How do I know? I made a fresh blueberry pie over the 4th of July and my husband who is a pie afficionado declared it my best ever crust. Yep - for the first time I had resorted to a frozen crust.

                                                                                                                    Instructions called for it to sit on counter for 20 - 20 minutes before baking. I popped it into oven straight from freezer. Instructions called for it to be pricked all over. I forgot. Instructions called for it to bake 20 - 30 minutes. I took it out at 17. My best pie crust ever says Mr. Pie-Eating Expert. OK. I bow to reality.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: ccmccall

                                                                                                                      Thanks, but for the reasons I stated earlier I will not be using store-bought crusts. I know it works for some people, but I like the whole exercise of measuring and pouring ingredients with my 2 year old. I also like to control the ingredients.

                                                                                                                      I may try the vodka.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ccmccall

                                                                                                                        I have researched frozen pie crusts, ccmccall, but have not been able to find an image of one with "mostly yellow plastic wrap." Would you mind sharing the name brand, please.

                                                                                                                      2. Hi Nikki;

                                                                                                                        I am an amateur baker as well, and lay no claim to special expertise. I have been making pie crusts for years, and they have come out great, which means that they won't make the cover of gourmet magazine, but they do make delicious pies, better than you'll get at most restaurants, because restaurants can't spend the time.

                                                                                                                        There is no special trick to making pie crusts. Maybe vodka helps, but I've never used it, nor have countless others.

                                                                                                                        The only advice I can think of is to trust your own instincts. Throw out your cookbook and get down and dirty. Don't be afraid to manhandle it a bit (without overworking). Don't be afraid of failure. Anyhow, dough usually recovers from any abuse if you let it rest afterwards in the fridge.

                                                                                                                        If the dough cracks, moisten the cracked edges and fuse them together. Roll it out again. Refrigerate again for ten minutes. Et cetera. If it's cracking too much, you're not putting enough water in. There's no genius here. If it's getting too sticky, toss the whole thing in the freezer for a while, even if the door doesn't close. Be provisional. Be embarrassing. In my opinion, that's what cooking is all about.

                                                                                                                          1. Get a pony bottle of vodka then.

                                                                                                                            1. Hi Nikki,
                                                                                                                              Boy do I feel your pain! Your experience definitely rings true for me. This past weekend though I had a lot of luck. I used a food processor and -- for the first time -- started with a frozen cube of butter that I graded and added to the flour. Used the largest holes of the box grader. Made a BIG difference, so much easier for nice incorporation of fat with flour, I think. Also, I rolled the dough out between two sheets of wax paper to avoid a host of problems that can crop up. And when rolling out the dough I forced myself to methodically use the Cooks Illustrated directive of holding the roller at the 9 and 3 (clock) position and using light pressure to press the dough upward only, easing up on pressure as approach the ends, then turning the dough a quarter turn and repeating again and again.. This created a perfect circle for me, for the first time! Lastly, I've learned that sometimes the dough is just too cold to roll properly and you just have to leave it alone on the counter to lose some of the chill and relax. (I have a very cold kitchen area-sometimes I leave it out upstairs). And at other times it may not be cold enough (sticky, etc.) and you need to pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up a tad.

                                                                                                                              Good luck!

                                                                                                                              1. Reading this thread, I perhaps count my blessings that I've never had a problem making shortcrust dough. Half fat to flour, by weight. All butter if a sweet pie. 50/50 butter and lard for savoury. Mix in the processor (life being far too short to do it by hand), then add your liquid (a lot less than you think you might need - you can always add more if needed). Then chill it for 30 minutes before rolling out - and get on with the rolling out while its still chilled.

                                                                                                                                1. Just came across this link. Have not tried this method, but will do so soon.

                                                                                                                                  http://wellpreserved.ca/an-ultimate-t...
                                                                                                                                  Drop on down & read the comments about rolling the dough into a log & then slicing into coins & placing into pie crust instead of rolling out as usual.

                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                    That's a great idea, slicing smaller discs of dough and assembling them in the pie pan instead of one large piece to fight. I will have to try that next time. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                    I made Kenji's latest pie dough recipe (the one from Serious Eats) and it came out really wet, so I just pressed the dough into the pie pan by hand (it was a single crust pie). It still came out flaky and better than most pie crusts I've made in the past.

                                                                                                                                    I'm trying the dough coin trick next.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for confirming that this myth of piecrust wisdom is truly a myth: Too much water makes it tough, not flaky, etc.

                                                                                                                                      Too little water will actually result in a tough crust, because you'll have to keep adding more and mixing more to get it to hold together, and that extra mixing will create more gluten.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                        It's not quite that simple.

                                                                                                                                        Water is what enables the protein in flour to form gluten (which is what leads to toughness). More water thus means more *potential* gluten.

                                                                                                                                        But, gluten, in order to be formed, needs for the dough to be worked - usually by kneading - this is what is done in bread. If, then, the crust was shaped with very minimal handling after too much water, it might still be reasonably good. But the handling would really have to be minimal. Once a lot of water has been added, if there's a fair bit of working, the crust will toughen. And there *is* some working of a dough needed to blend it, form it, shape it, and roll it.

                                                                                                                                        Meanwhile, your "too little water" resulting in a tough crust isn't a problem of too little water - rather, that's baker timidity. They started out with not enough, kept adding and eventually got to too much, and with more working going on. Speaking of timidity, you can be too timid too when mixing. Directions to work minimally or use a light touch don't mean necessarily treating it like an eggshell. You do have to apply enough force and work it enough for the dough to be mixed and then formed - so a touch so light nothing actually comes together is in the end also self-defeating.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                            I use half all-purpose flour mixed with half cake flour to make a low protein pastry flour substitute. It helps to cut down of the gluten to prevent the problem.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                              Do you do this with all recipes or do you use one that specifically calls for this mixture?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                I use it for all pie crusts and other baked goods that use baking powder. Biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. Those types of baked good don't require a lot of gluten.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                  Biscuits in particular want low-gluten. people swear by martha white.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                    I put this handy flour reference together. Here's my latest version.

                                                                                                                                                    WHEAT FLOUR TYPES AND BEST USES:
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    Wheat Flour Protein:

                                                                                                                                                    -Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour.

                                                                                                                                                    -Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded.

                                                                                                                                                    -Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels.

                                                                                                                                                    -For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

                                                                                                                                                    -Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%.
                                                                                                                                                    Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

                                                                                                                                                    -Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10%
                                                                                                                                                    Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

                                                                                                                                                    Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten.
                                                                                                                                                    Most cake flours are bleached.
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    --------------
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    FLOUR PROTEIN BY TYPES AND BRANDS (retail flour):
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
                                                                                                                                                    -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                                                                                                                                                    -Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN - 8 to 9% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
                                                                                                                                                    -Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
                                                                                                                                                    -White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles.
                                                                                                                                                    -Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
                                                                                                                                                    -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                                                                                                                                                    -White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protien
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
                                                                                                                                                    -Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
                                                                                                                                                    -Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED, NATIONAL BRANDS - 10 to 11.5% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
                                                                                                                                                    -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                                                                                                                                                    -White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
                                                                                                                                                    -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
                                                                                                                                                    -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    BREAD FLOUR - 12 to 13.3% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
                                                                                                                                                    -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
                                                                                                                                                    -White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: Pasta.
                                                                                                                                                    -Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
                                                                                                                                                    -Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                                                                                                                                                    -Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
                                                                                                                                                    Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
                                                                                                                                                    -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0%
                                                                                                                                                    -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                                                                                                                                                    -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                                                                                                                                                    -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    --------------
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
                                                                                                                                                    -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill
                                                                                                                                                    -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
                                                                                                                                                    -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
                                                                                                                                                    -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
                                                                                                                                                    -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
                                                                                                                                                    -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
                                                                                                                                                    -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
                                                                                                                                                    -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    --------------
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    To make a lower protein flour (similar to White Lily or Pastry flour), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)
                                                                                                                                                    .
                                                                                                                                                    ------
                                                                                                                                                    Version 7-6-2013

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                      Great list. but you're missing one:
                                                                                                                                                      Graham Flour. Generally made from hard red wheat, it's yummy, and low gluten.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                            Which is why the vodka trick works.
                                                                                                                                            Gives moisture and malleable-ity to the dough in the working stages, and then just "poof" bakes out in the oven.

                                                                                                                                            No taste.
                                                                                                                                            No booze-i-ness left behind.
                                                                                                                                            Really, why do people over-think this?

                                                                                                                                            Now on to the important stuff: fillings.....oh my!

                                                                                                                                            Life is short. Eat more pie.

                                                                                                                                    2. Ok, people, are you sitting down? I am once again attempting a pie crust! My post has received so many detailed responses, how could I possibly screw again, right? Actually, I made the dough and I'm letting it chill in the fridge overnight. I used the all-butter recipe from joyofbaking.com and, in the end, I did not ditch the food processor. I'm a little worried because the dough felt a little sticky, but we'll see what happens. Also, I used King Arthur flour (the pie camp lady says the milling makes a difference) and European butter.

                                                                                                                                      Seriously, I appreciate every one of your responses. You all took time out of your days to thoughtfully respond to the rant of a stranger, and because of you I may be able to bake a pie crust at some point.

                                                                                                                                      I'll keep you posted!

                                                                                                                                      Nikki

                                                                                                                                      41 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                        Nikki NYC I hope it is the best pie crust that you have ever made!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                          Thanks! The bar is so low at this point it is a real possibility!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                            HA HA HA! Joy of Baking never fails me. Enjoy your pie! What filling?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                              I love the videos! The lady is very serious. I'm making peach!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                next time you make peach, use a lattice crust on top. it's a bit wet otherwise, and your crust will get soggy faster.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                  I will definitely try that. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                    Classically, every pie has a different top crust (the lattice for peach is diagonally, and often spirals).
                                                                                                                                                    But I'm totally not surprised it came out like soup... ;-)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                          Okay, so now you've got something a touch sticky. Use Flour. Flour everything (what you're rolling it out on, the rolling pin. everything that's going to touch it.) Don't be afraid to add more flour at all points (you can always blow it off). I tend to get flour all over me in the process (seems I can't make baked goods without it)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                            Ok! Thanks for the advice. I think the little guy will have to sit this one out.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                              That's right. Lots of flour when rolling is a GOOD thing. You just need a good pastry brush to get the flour back OFF of the dough before forming and baking it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                if you forget, it's no problem either, just looks silly.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                              THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING! I JUST PUT A GORGEOUS PIE IN THE OVEN!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE CYBER-PINCH ME!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                Here it is! I have to get ready for dinner so I'll talk more later. Many thanks to all of you! Xox

                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                      And THAT is what a great, non-commercial, homemade pie crust shoul look like. I can tell just by looking it will be delicious.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                        So, we just had our friends over for BBQ and my beautiful peach pie was a real hit, even though the filling was like soup (strange, I never had an issues with filling before). As I mentioned before, I used the Joy of Baking recipe. I did not ditch the food processor this time. And I have to confess something that will have some of you - perhaps most of you - thinking I am a complete moron: I took my butter from the fridge and not the freezer, as was my previous procedure. Yes, you read that right, I was previously freezing my butter. All the recipes call for chilled butter and everyone talks about keeping everything as cold as possible, so my little brain that over analyzes everything thought I could accomplish this by using frozen butter. How embarrassing for me, but I thought I owed you that after all the help you have given me. Also, I used King Arthur's flour and rolled my dough on wax paper. And my crust was the most beautiful and delicious crust I have ever made.

                                                                                                                                                        Kattyeyes, the bird was for you and your mom. :-)

                                                                                                                                                        Please take pity on me and go easy with the disparaging remarks. I know, the frozen butter was totally dumb.

                                                                                                                                                        This post and the responses was exactly what I had hoped to find every time I searched online for help. Thank you again for all your help. I can't wait to make my next pie!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                            Frozen butter was not dumb. Frozen stick of fake butter is different, though. Before you said you were using a different fake type of butter, so if that's what you were freezing, it was the product, not the freezing.
                                                                                                                                                            What did you use for the filling, besides the fruit? Did you add cornstarch or any other type of thickening to the filling? Joy of cooking recipe for the filling, too? I've had many a slice of peach pie that did not have a lattice top, but a regular crust.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                              Regarding runny fruit fillings, there are three factors involved:

                                                                                                                                                              1. Use enough thickener
                                                                                                                                                              2. Bake it for long enough - the filling needs to be thoroughly cooked in the center of the pie to make the thickener work, and the crust should be richly browned
                                                                                                                                                              3. VERY IMPORTANT: a fruit pie needs a chance to cool thoroughly - it will not set up until it has cooled well

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                or you could use tapioca, which doesn't need to cool nearly as much.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                  Can you taste tapioca? I have never baked with it. I use corn starch.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                    It has no flavor, but sometimes the whole "pearls" are noticeable. You can whir it into a powder in a coffee grinder, though. I use tapioca for berry pies. (I also coat the bottom crust with melted chocolate to seal it from the fruit juices - bottom crust stays crispier).

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                                                                      How do you apply the chocolate? With a pastry brush? Sounds delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                        I would use an offset palette knife to do this. A pastry brush would be unlikely to achieve uniform coating, and melted chocolate is fairly viscous too.

                                                                                                                                                                        Which brings me to a critical point: you need to make sure the chocolate you're using for this application has a high percentage of cocoa butter. Otherwise it won't spread evenly in a thin layer but rather will become "goopy" and probably start pulling the crust away. You'll want at least 40% cocoa butter, and even more - some chocolates have 45, even 50% cocoa butter - in order to do a good job. It's easy to find out how much cocoa butter is in the chocolate by looking at the nutrition label. Usually they list the fat content per 100 g, in which case it's particularly simple: if the fat content is 40 g or more, you're safe. Otherwise divide the fat content by the portion size and if the number you get is 0.4 or more you're OK. Make sure also it doesn't have extraneous fats other than cocoa butter, things listed as "vegetable fat" or "palm oil" or any other oil, for that matter - these will change its handling properties.

                                                                                                                                                                        You should temper your chocolate before spreading. To do this, there are several methods, all of which involve the same procedure: heat the chocolate until it's fully melted, reduce the temperature of most of it to about 28-30 °C, then reheat very gently to about 32 °C.

                                                                                                                                                                        The way I do it is the classic technique, involving a marble slab and the aforementioned offset palette knife. Once melted, you remove 2/3 of the chocolate, put it on the slab, and then spade it around until it just begins to solidfy. Then you quickly scrape it into the rest of the melted chocolate. Stir, and you're ready to spread.

                                                                                                                                                                        Another method involves reserving a proportion of the chocolate, broken into small bits. In this approach, you heat most of the chocolate gently, until only a bit over 32 °C, - barely melted. Then you add the reserved chocolate ("seeds") into the mix. This one is much easier to do with a "tempering thermometer" - a special-purpose bit of kitchen kit specifically for tempering chocolate that has extreme sensitivity over a narrow range of temperatures.

                                                                                                                                                                        Tempering is something of an art - it usually takes a few tries before you can do it consistently, but the results will be obvious; once your crust is coated what you're looking for is an even, smooth chocolate surface with a satiny look without any signs of streaking or white filminess.

                                                                                                                                                                        When applying your chocolate, your crust should be cool - only take it out of the fridge the moment before you're ready to start. Tempered chocolate sets VERY quickly so work fast.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, or back of a spoon, or just my fingers. I prefer dark chocolate with berry pies, white chocolate with apple - though white is sometimes so finicky to melt that I sometimes give up. Use a very thin layer. It's not about flavoring, it's about sealing the crust. (I hate the white pasty gummy goop on most bakery pies). Sometimes, my bottom crusts are crisp 3 days later (if the pie lasts that long.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                                                                            Mine are crisp without sealing. use enough tapioca, and you'll be fine.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                        Might have already been mentioned but you can get tapioca flour.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                      Strongly agree on 3 - and in fact not only will the pie set more nicely it will taste better. I find fruit pies improve with a day of being allowed to sit. Just make sure the pie isn't in humid conditions. The drier, the better.

                                                                                                                                                                      To thicken my fruit pies, my favourite method is to slowly condense a quantity of the fruit I'm going to use until it achieves a very thick tomato paste-like consistency. For most fruits this works fairly well, although I've not tried it with all. You're basically making something a bit like a sugarless jam. It does require, though, that your fruit have a high enough sugar concentration to begin with. If your fruit is fresh and in season, though, and you select well, this will usually be the case. I imagine though that, e.g. raspberries might give trouble (have not tried this method with raspberries) I find that the same amount of fruit that you would use to fill the pie, condensed, is about right - so you basically start with twice the amount of fruit you'd have used without, and condense half. A benefit of the method is that you don't need to use additional sugar, because the condensed paste has a highly concentrated sugar percentage in it.

                                                                                                                                                                      If you don't want to go through that trouble and expense though, and it will be admitted it is expensive, thickeners are fine. Tapioca is good but try to get powdered form so that it's evenly distributed. It's completely flavourless - like most typical starches used as thickeners. You'll only taste any thickener if you underbake and there's still some raw starch in there. Regardless of the type used, though, for fruit pies, I still recommend allowing them to cool all the way. If you want a hot pie, reheat it (NOT using a microwave, which will ruin the crust) - use an oven; set it to 150 °C; about 20 minutes is usually sufficient for "normal-sized" pies.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                                                        How do you condense the fruit? Do you cook it down? I would really like to try your method.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, cook it down. Be careful not to scorch it, use a heavy bottomed pan. I sometimes cook fruit down in a slow cooker, lid ajar to let it evaporate.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm going to try that! Sounds so good! Do you mix the condensed fruit with the sliced?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                              I believe that is what that poster said. about half concentrated, half fresh, I'd have to re-read that post. There were also things mentioned about the sugar content as well.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                            wyogal has essentially given the answer. As mentioned while cooking it down leave the lid ajar, whatever you're using (whether slow cooker or ordinary pot). It helps to stir the fruit occasionally. The most important thing is not to try to rush the operation by using high heat; put it on as low as you can go.

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, you mix the condensed with the sliced before adding.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you! Can't wait to try this.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe that is why my lemon meringue pie never seems to set up, too anxious to cut into it and it turns into an awful soupy mess.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                            Mine, too. That might be a new thread. I think lemon meringue pie filling-making has nuances that I have yet to discover. I have the idea, for example, that overcooking it might nullify the thickening. Anyone an expert at lemon meringue?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                              In a prior thread someone mentioned that I stirred the corn starch mixture too much which can lead to a soupy mess as well. It would be fun to have a thread on the ultimate lemon meringue pie. Nora Ephron made a statement prior to her death stating that one thing she would miss on here on earth is PIE. Posting the thread, thought is was lovely:
                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/06/wh...

                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                          Frozen butter worked like a charm for me -- as I indicated in my earlier post.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodiefan6

                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure where your post is, have you ever grated frozen butter into the flour? I do that with cold butter for biscuits. easy peasy.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, for pie dough, I use a box grater (big holes) to do so. Drop it into the flour etc., in the food processor. Works great! No worries about size of the butter bits, whether it's cold enough, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I stopped trying to make pie crust and just started lining my pies with puff pastry. Problem solved.

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                      Aren't you glad they don't make sourdough pie crust. ;-) The two unreachable peaks of baking.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                        No, don't give up! If I can do it then anyone can.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Omg!!! I think this might be happening! I just rolled out a PERFECT bottom crust! I wrapped in in plastic and put it in the fridge because I have to give little man a bath and nap, but as soon as he is down I'm making my filling and finishing this thing up! If the second half goes as well as the first I will post pictures. Woohoo!!!

                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                            Well congratulations, now your options are unlimited, from apple to lemon meringue....

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                              I LOVE lemon meringue. That always seems like a winter pie to me, because it's so nice to use fresh summer fruit when we can in the northeast.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                Since you will be making plenty of pie a mat for rolling is a great tool. What is the next one?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                  My next inspiration will probably come to me when I am walking the fruit section on the next trip to the supermarket. I will most likely consult my little assistant and we will collaborate. I am hoping it will be blueberry or strawberry but we shall see. What is your favorite pie to bake?

                                                                                                                                                                                  Funny, a Silpat mat used to be at the top of my kitchen wish list. Breast cancer changed that for me and, while it is probably a little too extreme, I try not to cook with any plastics. It probably doesn't impact anyone's health but it gives me piece of mind. The wax paper was wonderful and I didn't need to use much flour, so I will be sticking to that method of rolling.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                    I was not aware that Silpat could be problematic. I have similar concerns...I use a plastic rolling mat for the pastry rollout but do not cook with it.
                                                                                                                                                                                    My favorite pie is a lemon meringue. I am also inspired by the market. I like to buy the small wild blueberries and make a pie with that. I really enjoy the strawberries that are the end of the season ones, they are usually very sweet and are not usually large, and they are a bright red. I also make jam with these.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds like you have mastered the Art of the Pie, keep going and posting your pictures. I enjoyed seeing them.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                Yay! Your photos looked lovely.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm still puzzled as to why crust causes so much consternation (to so many).

                                                                                                                                                                                There are so few variables...flour, salt, fat, water...temperature and how you touch it. If you just keep making lots of pies and play around with the variables, it becomes intuitive.

                                                                                                                                                                                Echoing others here...my own experience is that the most important thing is not to handle the dough too much. I also have better results with a pastry cutter than a food processor (which I associate with rubberier texture).

                                                                                                                                                                                At some point, I'm definitely going to try a lard crust. I've heard they're yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chloehk

                                                                                                                                                                                  It's a hands on type thing, and people stress over it overly much so.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chloehk

                                                                                                                                                                                    I will try the pastry cutter at some point. Lard will never be my thing, but it sounds like people love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I use my Cuisinart and all butter with a bit of baking powder (N Malgeri's suggestion). I use White Lily AP flour. The soft wheat makes for a very tender crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                  So flour into the processor bowl. Cut your butter (unsalted) into 1 Tbs. pieces. 1 stick for 1 C. flour. The butter should be very cold. Make sure the butter pieces get coated with flour. Sprinkle in some salt, not much, sorry I do not measure and 1/8th tsp of baking powder per cup of flour. cover and pulse with the steel knife until the flour and butter look like coarse meal. Then add about 3 Tbs. of ice cold water/cup of flour. Pulse again to mix and then run it until the dough forms a ball on the knife. Stop and divide the dough (if you are making more than a 1 crust pie) evenly. flatten into discs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill a couple of hours or over night. I use a pie crust bag to roll the crust in, It is round and zips closed. You dust the inside, top and bottom with flour. Then put in the disc of dough. I give it a few whacks with the rollnig pin and then begin to roll out. Roll from the middle out to the edge. Never roll back and forth. Spray your baking dish with Baker's Joy. Un zip and roll the dough onto your pin and easily unroll into your baking dish. DO NOT STRETCH THE DOUGH. Roll out the top crust, if using, add the filling, crimp the dough and bake in a preheated oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember when "I got it". I never looked back. It took a number of tries, but I got there. You will too.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                                      White Lily flour is absolutely the best for pastry and biscuits, too bad it's only readily available in the South. If I want it I have to order online and pay a ton of shipping. You can make do with Gold Medal AP flour, but King Arthur AP flour has more protein in it and while okay, not the tender crusts of a "softer" flour. So, flour AND fat make a difference, in other words every darned ingredient!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you. Can't wait to try a couple. Which is your favorite?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                          I made the mincemeat pie last year. I find it very delicate in flavour and lighter than the usual mincemeat pie. I have also made a strawberry tart recipe of hers. I have been following all of her shows started off with a series called Sugar. The Food Network has some of her videos. I have a picture of the pie but have no clue as to how to upload a picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                            To upload, you just hit the camera icon under and to the right of the box in which you type your reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                              Gorgeous pie, you're on your way.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I still have not figured out how to put a photo here .. can you pretend I'm a ten year old and explain it?

                                                                                                                                                                                              Say I have the photo on my I Phone. Then what do I do?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                I have the same dilemma, but think we have to start with emailing ourselves and downloading to our pictures in our computers. Is this correct Nikki?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ruthie, you are correct. Get the picture onto your computer. Then, after you are finished writing your reply but BEFORE you hit the "reply" button, hit the icon that looks like a camera; it is directly below the "reply" button. Then hit "choose existing" and select the picture, and hit "reply" when you are done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, I take a photo with my I Phone. Do I then send the photo to my own email address?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please advise .. remember, I'm ten years old and new to all this .. (not really ten).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just saw your question - in case you are still wondering, yes..send your photo to your own email address. When you have chosen the photo from your camera roll and have entered your address, subject name, etc., and hit "send", it may give you an option of scaling down your message. I always chose the Medium (185 KB).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lesliej

                                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, I've got that so far. Then what? (I may be dumb about this but I can follow directions. Once I have the photo on my own email address, what are the next steps to make it leap onto chowhound?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save it to your desktop, then like others have said, click on the camera icon, and it should pull up your desktop as a list, then click on the photo you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If this is what you're asking, after the email appears, open it, then look at the various icons at the bottom of the screen. Click-on the one that looks like a "disk" and that will "copy" it to your desktop. Apologies if you have already completed this step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Nikki: Here is the mincemeat pie that I made. Not anywhere near as pretty as yours, those patchy little things were supposed to be Fleur de Lys. Thanks for explaining how to use the picture...

                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is beautiful!! It looks like it was made by a pro!

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I did it again, people!! Does this mean I can officially bake pie? Oh, I hope so. This one was delicious. Fresh blueberries (on sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't resist), same crust recipe from Joy of Baking. We should have waited longer to cut into it, but the melted berries were screaming to be tasted and, well, you know the rest. Mmmmmm.....

                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you! We had fun making it, especially punching out the top flowers. I just gave my little guy a toy mixer and when we were done baking the real pie he pretended to do it all over again. He was very excited when we compared rolling pins. So cute!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you! We had a blast making it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Baby, you're a star! JUST GORGEOUS--the flowers are so lovely!
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd love to try something schmantzy like that someday. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you!! I adopted it from the Joy of Baking recipe (she used stars). I want to do the same thing with choo choo train cut outs. Little guy will love that!! Now I'm trying to find a good strawberry filling recipe. Whole Foods had strawberries for $1.99 a box and my husband went overboard and bought 6, in addition to the 2 I bought. Lol!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In my experience, straight up strawberry pie can be a challenge since strawberries can be very watery. Make sure you have sufficient thickener, or you may well wind up with strawberry soup en croute!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Do you make a fresh strawberry pie or a cooked on? I've really only seen the fresh strawberry pies, held together with strawberry gelatin type stuff, piled high.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe one could reduce, make a strawberry jam, and maybe even a fresh strawberry gelatin, and mix it with the fresh, and put it in a baked pie shell.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          We had some wild strawberries this week up on the mountain, very, very tiny, but boy, ka-pow! flavor!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've never baked a strawberry pie. I usually pick through the berries and find the nicest ones, set them aside. Use a potato masher and squish the remaining berries, cook with sugar and cornstarch and a bit of water. For the mashed berries, you can use frozen ones if you run short. Blind bake your crust, cool, arrange your whole berries and top with the cooled mashed berries (add a little red food coloring if too pale). Refrigerate, top with whipped cream, yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                            So very true in my humbled experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                              i cut up my berries, then toss them with about 1 cup of sugar or as needed to coat berries lightly, then let them soak for at least an hour, or overnight. drain the juices off (save to cook into a syrup! i add citrus, spices, and balsamic), and mix the berries with sugar, etc as your recipe calls for. i usually use some corn starch, too, but only a couple tablespoons max. i find marinating the berries in a sugar bath ahead of time draws out a lot of moisture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Nikki, the type of fat really does matter. I use Smart Balance in cooking, and frequently in baking cookies, but pastry is a different animal. I usually use butter and lard, yeah I know, heart attack city but boy oh boy it's goood! Crisco also works, but it's not my favorite. I have this mental image of spooning it up and eating it--yuck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The CI recipe for the vodka crust comes out great, and rolls out like play doh. It's the only one I've ever had success with using a food processor. The crust I've been making for over 40 years is done by hand. I've made it in humid and dry climates, and the hand method allows for adjustments for humidity and temperature. I usually make 3-5 crusts at a time, chilling the flour and fats together in a bowl before I begin, mix all together on the counter, then divide and freeze them in patties. Thaw overnight in the frig, to be rolled out when I get around to it the day I need them, and maybe even chill again in the pie plate. I don't have issues with using chilled dough, other than it's harder to roll out in the beginning but if the flour/fat/water content is correct it becomes more elastic as you roll. The key is to watch the moisture content, if it's too dry it will crumble. But if you've just got some cracking on the edges, just take a little water and dampen the crack and stick some dough you cut from another place on and continue to roll.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll be happy to share if you need more info. You'll get there!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have to say something here: Butter and lard are NOT heart attack foods! That is old, bad science and marketing baloney for fake food companies. Please don't perpetuate the lies!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Using lard and butter in pie crust never stopped me from making it, just made it less often. But the vodka/food processor recipe from CI is a pretty darned good crust. Personally I'd rather skip the food processor, mine is such a pain to clean I'd rather just use my countertop and do it the old fashioned way. So, I continue to use butter and lard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Amen to that- every time I use that FP (a wonderful Breville model); I curse when I have to take it apart & clean it! And making pie crust by hand definitely taught me how to feel when it was right. Have to say, I am intrigued by this vodka recipe from CI & will try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bevwinchester

                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I make crusts by hand, I can make 5-7 at a time. In my FP, I don't know, I guess I just don't have the touch. Other than the CI recipe with vodka, I have absolutely no luck. Call me an old fogie, but if it ain't broke....Nikki, there are some excellent posts here with tried and true methods, keep at it, you'll be a pro in no time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks, I have made a whole bunch since my original post and have had some great results, thanks to many of the comments. Last week I tried a crust where I cut the butter by hand, and the result was very flaky and tender. I used KA flour, which I has thought was the best for pie, but now I see there are some others that may be better. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Re coconut oil: probably worse for those with cholesterol
                                                                                                                                                                                                          issues than lard. I haven't made pie in 50 years, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                          lard wasn't hard to find then, but it sure made for great pie dough. Yes, the fat does matter. A lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bashful3

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A good pie crust requires fat. The fretting and fussing about its substitutes gives the brain worry and is that good for us? A bite of delicious pie makes us happy is that good for us? Eat pie I think it is important to be happy. PIE is wonderful IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Eat pie I think it is important to be happy."
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd buy that t-shirt. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kattyeyes I agree with you. It would make for a good charity funder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bashful3

                                                                                                                                                                                                              HUH? Coconut is the latest HEALTH fat. And lard has cholesterol-lowering properties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gorgeous! You have turned into a first-class pie baker!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have not tried it yet, but I read that it's easier to do lattice on parchment paper (about 3/4 inch strips) and place it in freezer 15 minutes before turning over onto your pie. (Does anyone out there do this?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like to order King Arthur's parchment paper because is lies flat and fits 1/2 sheet pans just right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I always weave my lattice on parchment and then slide it onto the pie once it's filled. So much easier and less messy than weaving over a juicy filling. I don't usually freeze it, though - I just weave it, slide it, crimp it quickly onto the bottom crust, then flute the edge and throw it in the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I find it easier to just weave it right onto the pie...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you know if it works to freeze unbaked galletes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          With a galette, I'd think your main issue would not be the pie crust, rather the fruit. You might have to experiment a bit to get the thickener quantity right because thawed fruit will release a lot of liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My recommendation would be to make the pie dough, freeze that in patties, thaw overnight and roll out when you prepare the fruit. I don't typically chill a rolled out galette crust, just roll, dump the fruit (oops, I mean artistically arrange), tuck up the crust and let 'er rip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Definitely get the parchment, it's sooo much better! Smart & Final used to sell the flat half sheets in packages of 100, now it's more like 1,000. So, KA's is the best choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The lattice done on parchment and chilled sounds like a good tip. Don't know if I'd freeze it, maybe just until it's good and cold but still pliable. Does it slide off the parchment easily? Hmm, have to try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I agree with coll. The vodka recipe (I use Cooks Illustrated one) is a fail safe recipe. I had the same frustration as you with crust, and stayed away from anything made with crust. Then I tried their recipe, and for some reason it doesn't tear. And, its made in the food processor. Super easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: afoodieaffair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yep, the vodka leaves no flavor but eases workability without making the crust tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It probably also compensates for the fact that CI uses King Arthur AP flour as their standard flour, which makes for a less tender crust. It definitely works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I use Gold Medal or Pillsbury myself, usually. It's pretty darn flaky (in a good way!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I read through this whole thread before attempting my pie crust this week (past trials have been epic fails). I opted for the CI vodka recipe with part vegetable shortening and part butter. Then half cold vodka and cold water. Using the food pro to start the process.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://honestcooking.com/the-secret-t...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was by far the best pie crust I have ever made. flakey, crispy, golden, sturdy and even the bottom crust browned. It was easy to handle, easy to make and easy to roll out. I am sold, and I now want to make more pies!! (watch out waistline!!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. For anyone checking in, I just made a really good apple pie. I used the recipe from joyofbaking.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Quick question: has anyone used those red silicone pie crust protectors? I bought some metal ones once and had to throw them out because they didn't work, fell off. I've been using the folded up foil but that's tricky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I use a metal one, and it never has fallen off. Don't know about a silicone one, but it should work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The metal ones I threw out would not stay on. I looked up the silicone ones on Amazon and there were a lot of bad reviews so I guess I'll just keep on using folded up foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The one I ordered from amazon arrived broken but still works pretty well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. So, how is everyone's baking going? I found a fabulous mentor and I baked a great pumpkin pie!! Hope you all had the same luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Nikki
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have been making crusts for nearly 40 years. I think I can help.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pie crusts are a zen creation, inspired, and sometimes fickle as the gods themselves. After 40 years I now kinda have it down. However, I never make a pie the same way twice. I am always experimenting. Recently i have had to go gluten free (Celiac Disease) so I have really been experimenting with crusts. The following should get you where you need to be. I can make a crust start to finish rolled in about 15 minutes. I say this only so you will not be too obsessive compulsive about it all. It should not be a long drawn out chore where you worry about your every move. The following will seem obsessive compulsive. :)>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you do not have a food processor, Use a dough cutter. Works just as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I understand why people let their pie crusts rest and why they chill them. It all makes sense until you try to roll a cold crust out. Then suddenly a person realizes the experts are has beens with a hole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I work in reverse of nearly every recipe I have ever read. I don't get too caught up about chilling dough but I do freeze my butter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I start with a good recipe and I don't follow it. I start with with the water and don't use water. I start with frozen butter but do not chill my crust. Crisco makes a flakier pie crust but I use butter. I like the taste of both; selection for health none other. I do not use a rolling cloth or plastic or paper.... I use a round pizza board I bought off Amazon from a company named Mountain Woods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A pizza board is Key!!!!!! If you are new and don't have a round pizza board you will be frustrated. Did I say this is KEY!!! A pizza board will save much frustration particularly as you get into flakier drier doughs that break easily. When you order, go ahead and order a long grill spatula. You will see why later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mountain Woods Pizza Peel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Measures 18"(L) x 13.5"(W) x 0.375"(T)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Diameter of circle is 13.5"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Available on Amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Before you start. Take your pie pan and lay it over on a piece of aluminum foil. Cut the foil about 3/4 inch more that the pan all the way around. Then fold the foil in half and cut the center out so it is about 3/4 shorter than the rim of your pan. You are going to put this over the edge of the crust so it does not overcook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So go ahead and find your dough recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My double crust is this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 to 2-1/2 cup of flour. Depends on the size of your pan. I use a very large glass/ceramic pan.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Add flour to food processor. Give it a spin.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4 cup combination of 1 Tbsp almond extract, 1 tsp vanilla extract and the rest Amaretto orange liqueur (or whatever you have on hand from vodka to rum). I use Amaretto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Add the 1/4 cup mixture to your flour as the the food processor spins. You want to add moisture to the flour before you add the butter. Or cut the liquid in with your dough cutter slowly adding the liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cut 1 cube (1/2 cup) of frozen salted butter on top of your flour and water mixture. These should be about dime size chunks of butter; don't obsess. This is reverse of nearly all recipes as you want chunks or crumbles of butter in your crust. If you add the water last you pulverize your butter geting the water into the four. Also a little extra moisture helps it roll out better and the liquor evaporates in the oven. If you are in a high humidity area you will need to adjust liquid down until it is right for your area. So turn on the food processor and spin just enough to where you have nice crumbles and when you gather the dough into a fist it holds together nicely without breaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do not put in freezer or refrigerator. Roll immediately after you take the crust out of the processor and put it in balls. A room temp or warm crust will roll so much easier than a cold or half frozen one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Put 1/2 of crust on a floured pizza board in a ball. Assuming you're right handed. Start pressing the dough out with the palm of your hand on the foured pizza board and continually mend the edge of the crust with your right hand; palm up and small finger against the edge of the dough. As you push and spread the ball out continue mending the edge pushing it back into a nice circle with your right hand. Push it out until it is 8 or so inches across and very round. Once you have it pushed out, add a little flour to the top and brush it around to cover. Flip the crust over. Obviously if you have pushed it out too far it will not flip easily. It should be easy to flip but pressed out 6-8 inches. As you get better you can stretch this out a bit. I like the pressing the crust is mended continually and tends not to break and crack. Flour the top of the newly flipped crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Take a roller and do not roll out from the middle. Roll the dough going in a natural circle around the crust. You will have to turn your board occasionally to do this. You are rolling the edge into itself which will help stop cracking. If you start from the middle and go out it will crack. It will crack anyway but mend these as you go, by pushing back together or mending with a little dough. You will occasionally roll from the middle to smooth the thickness of the crust or get a little more dough on an edge that is perhaps to short.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Roll the edge of dough to the edge of the pizza board. the one suggested in the link is the perfect size. It is nearly the perfect size for a large pie pan. My pans are 10-3/4 inch across. They are big. I always use 4 cups of fruit or 7-8 apples in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once your dough is rolled out on the board. Take a spatula and slip it between the board and gingerly loosen the dough from the board. I use a restaurant grill spatula that is 8 inches long so the spatula goes well beyond the halfway point of the crust. I have also used longer household spatulas but a typical household spatula may not work as well. I have never tried. You want long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once you have loosened your dough, hold the pizza board over your pie pan. You pizza board will cover the pan nearly perfectly. Take your spatula and slip it under the dough and slide the dough off into the pie pan as you pull the pizza board away. With a little finesse your pie dough will sit perfectly in your pan and best of all not be all torn up, cracked, disfigured and you in tears or tearing your hair out. Mend crust as needed by pinching together or with extra dough as you do not want your bottom crust to leak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For juicy fruit pies wash the bottom crust with egg white to seal it away from the fruit juices. Set crust aside, and start making your fruit (assuming this is a fruit pie).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you are making a juicy fruit pie add fine tapioca or tapioca flour to the fruit. You can also use corn starch. You need to adjust. For a really juicy pie like a full on fresh peach I will use well over a 1/4 cup. For an apple pie maybe an 1/8 cup or couple Tbsp's. Take a bit of water in a glass and add the cornstarch and or tapioca flour/starch to the water and dissolve then put it in your fruit. From there follow your fruit pie recipe. Let this sit or chill it. It won;t hurt to freeze it down to slush as that will help your bottom crust set up and cook before getting soggy from the juice. Do not add fruit to pan yet!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now make your top crust. Roll it out as before, the only difference here is right before you finish rolling dust the top of the crust with sugar and cinnamon and roll it into the top of the crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Add your fruit filling to the pie crust now. Slide the top crust off the pizza board and over the pie. Once again with a little finesse, it will land perfectly centered. Crimp the edges. Make a couple vent holes for steam unless the top crust cracked then that will be your vents. :>)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Take the aluminum foil ring you made and cover the crimped edge of the crust, crimping the foil over the edge of the crust. You are not particularly using enough pressure to distort your crimped edge but you are using enough to form the foil over the edge and covering fairly well from heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For a juicy fruit crust I will put it on the very bottom rack and have the oven preheated to 410. I cook it at 410 for about 15 minutes then I reduce the heat down to about 370-350 and cook an hour or so. Remember my fruit may have been slush. If you did not chill or slush your fruit, use "your" recipe guidelines. I take the pie out and put it on a wire grate to cool so air gets underneath to cool that bottom crust. I let the pie cool completely before cutting otherwise fruit will not set and it will be a runny soggy mess. Chill if you want. Better slightly chilled then warm and runny (unless it is a custard). I love warm custard pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I never warm a piece of pie up or put it in the microwave at will remelt the butter, will not be flaky and all your hard work went away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Boajonajovi - by golly, I think your process may actually work for me. I stopped reading all these replies & discussions since I was going crazy trying to keep up with who was doing what besides, so much conflicting info.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not to say these folks were wrong - it is ME ME ME with the problems. Sometimes I do not think I am destined to make a decent piecrust in this life time. Bad karma or something. But I am willing to give it another shot, just in case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Waiting for the round pizza peel to get here plus the grill spatula.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the very detailed post. Will let you know how it turned out. I have not lost faith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I may have made one major mistake in my instructions. I believe I said 1 cube butter. That is for a single crust. It is two cubes (1 cup) for a double crust and 2 to 2-1/2 cup flour. I will see if I can edit that post.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think you will be more successful than you think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Don't look at a pie or a pie crust as a destination. It is a journey of diamonds and stones. Every single pie I make I tweak something here and there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yesterday I made a peach pie from fresh peaches I had frozen from last fall. These are extremely juicy Paliside, Colorado peaches and I do not drain them for pies. It is full on juice. The last few peach pies I have made from theese guys have really challenged me with soggy bottoms and too runny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yesterday I added to the filling about 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch and maybe a tablespoon of malto dextrin. Even to me that seems like a huge amount of starches and thickeners. The pie came out fabulous after around four attempts with these peaches. Had I followed any recipe on earth, I don't think I would have gotten a good peach pie from those juicy peaches. I don't think I have ever seen a recipe call for more than a 1/4 cup tapioca.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a moto. Find a good recipe and don't follow it. What I mean by that is a recipe is simply a backbone to build upon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yesterday i took "about" two cups cut up rhubarb, 1/2 cup frozen sweet cherries, two small beaten eggs, 3/4 cups sugar, and ground some nutmeg over it. I actually did not measure anything but the sugar. I mixed it up and put in some small pyrex bowls and baked at 370 for about an hour. It was fabulous. I simply modified the filling for my rhubarb custard pie and didn't make a pie, I just made custard cups as I did not have 4 cups of rhubarb. Anyway the pie recipe was the backbone for the filling and I did not even make a pie. I swear 10 minutes of work and they were awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By the way double that rhubarb filling above for a double crust pie and you will have people swooning. I have had so many people say they don't like rhubarb. I give them a piece of my pie and many have said it was the best pie they ever had. It is my favorite. I think strawberries ruin a rhubarb pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Good luck and may you get pie faced. Have fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowhounds I am sorry in the recipe I posted yesterday, I said 1 cube or 1/2 cup butter. That was for a 1 crust pie. For the two crust pie using 2 to 2-1/2 cups flour use 2 cubes or 1 cup butter. I am sure it will still come out with one cube but it might be really flaky and hard to handle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Do I order the long or extra long spatula?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I put in the order for an extra long one but have enough time to change it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hmmm. Not sure. As I remember I got mine from Sams club. However, the blade on mine is 8" long. When I say blade I mean the flat part that goes under the pie crust or the working end. Not the handle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You might want to check out Kate McDermott's blog called the Art of the Pie. Ironically she is also gluten intolerant and I believe she has a gluten free recipe which she shares.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isn't that the lady who uses lard in her crust and runs the pie camp, or am I confusing her with someone else? Very interesting but the lard thing is just not for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a weird irrational aversion to using it, plus we keep kosher at home (which, of course, trumps any other reason to use or not use it on my house).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps her gluten free does not contain lard. She does use butter as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  if there's one thing I love it details.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  GREAT job Boajonajovi........(our friends' daughters' name is JoviRose............love it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  anyway, reading the complex way you detailed that was perfection. learned something just now, good job!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Hi, everyone! I have had so much fun with this post, thanks to all of you. Well, it's been almost a whole year since my pie-induced meltdown, and I am happy to report that I can officially bake a pie with confidence now. Practice really does make perfect. And now that it's my favorite pie baking season, I was wondering - what are you all baking these days? Here is my latest, strawberry rhubarb. Happy baking! Nikki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That looks like pure perfection; congratulations!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, Walker! The best part was making it with my three year old. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You have surpassed any of my efforts, now I will start a thread asking YOU for help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I grew rhubarb in my garden so still waiting for optimum size, but strawberry rhubarb is first on my list. Blueberry will follow, as sure as the birds will fly ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Coll, you are too kind, and your garden sounds amazing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By the way, what helped me a lot was watching the videos on joyofbaking.com and reading blogs like Smitten Kitchen obsessively. I've made tons of mistakes - let me know if you are stuck on something, and I will tell you if I've had the same struggle and found a solution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What's going to be your next challenge?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love Smitten Kitchen blog .. she constantly tests her recipes before posting and her commenters have some good tips, too. She's a real perfectionist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also love that she gives variations, and writes about things that went wrong and right for her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My next big challenge is to make a peach pie that does now drain and deflate when the knife makes the first cut. This has been a major problem for me, and I want to accomplish this for Father's Day because it's my DH's favorite. Wish me luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Macerate the sliced peaches in sugar in a ziploc for several hours. Then drain the syrup into a saucepan. Cook peaches in the microwave for a few minutes and drain off any additional juice to the saucepan. Boil till reduced to a fairly thick syrup. Add back to peaches, add remaining ingredients (lemon juice, thickener - I use tapioca) and fill pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                THANK YOU!! I'll give it a shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Congratulations! I remember reading this thread when you started it. How exciting that you kept practicing and have succeeded so spectacularly. Thanks for the pie updates!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: P_penelope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks! I still can't believe the number of responses I have received. It's like a big pie therapy group! Haha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That makes me what to sit down and have a cup of tea and a piece of that pie. Pie perfection!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Awesome Nikki. I am so glad you have stuck with it. My last pie was blueberry. Since i replied to your original post, I made a rhubarb, tart cherry pie. It was fantastic. I love rhubarb custard and it is my favorite pie, however, the addition of tart cherries was over the top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just curios if you used the pizza board and long spatulas and if so, did you like the technique?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nikki, keep on keeping on. Looks like you found pie Nirvana.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your pies sound delicious! I made a mixed berry pie from frozen fruit last week. I was cleaning out the freezer! It was watery but good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't do the pizza peel, although it looks interesting. I roll in between two well-floured pieces of wax paper. When I put the dough in the plate I just turn over the paper, put it in, and then peel off the paper. Same with the top crust. I sprinkle a little water under the bottom piece of paper so it stays put. Works like a charm every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Finding the right amount of starch is one key to a good pie. I like them a bit runny as opposed to too gelatinous. I also find what works in terms of starch for one pie can be totally different for another pie. The blueberry pie I made last week had 1/3 cup of corn starch and it was not enough. I started with frozen blueberries so no juice was drained. Darn the luck, I have to make another blueberry pie to see if i can improve it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hmmm, I hate throwing apple peels away. I wonder if person could turn them to pulp in a blender or processor and add them to a pie. Darn the luck. I guess I have to make an apple pie to find up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Enjoy!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Have you tried tapioca? I keep reading about it but haven't tried it yet, myself. It's sitting in my cupboard, though, so I'll probably experiment soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like using the instant tapioca to thicken. I think I used 1 Tbl and whizzed it in the coffee grinder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tapioca is great! Makes blueberry pie filling luscious and shiny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I use tapioca all the time. I either use powder or the small tapioca. The small tapioca works particularly good in peach pie and provides a really nice filler once cooked. I also use corn starch and arrowroot. Tapioca is my favorite followed by cornstarch and just occasionally arrowroot. I can't tell much difference between arrowroot and cornstarch in flavor or end result.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cornstarch makes great gravies. My mom would mix it in a small glass of water then add it to gravies as a thickener; works excellent. It clumps up the gravy without mixing in water first. I add it to pies with no water added which works fine. I do try to get even distribution through whatever fruit I add it to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm not an expert — I recently made a pie crust from scratch for the first time. I used the Aida Mollenkamp recipe, which can easily be found online, and it worked perfectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This recipe does not call for a food processor. I don't see why anyone would want to use one. Overworking the dough causes problems. Working the dough by hand gives more control. Also easier cleanup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The food processor method goes by bursts of pressing the button for a second or less, like 15 times total. It is not overkill by any means. If anything, the lack of heat from the hands touching it is a benefit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have been trying to make a pie as good as my moms for over thirty years. My mother always used a dough cutter, she didn't own a food processor. Hmmm, maybe that is the secret ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My mom and grandmother both used a glass bowl and a metal spoon for their crusts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Boajonajovi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I use the processor, just a few whirrs, then the rest is done with an antique dough cutter I picked up at the thrift shop. The best of both worlds!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    only 6 ingredients, comes together nicely

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. And, the latest, a peach pie. Happy Father's Day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply