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Follow Up to Crumbling Pie Crust

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Ok so... Im starting to think I am insane and totally wrong in the head. I am basicly a home cook that took what skills I had to the restaurant where I currantly work. I have been working as hard as I can to improve my skills from there and for some reason the thing I seem to care the most about is my pie crust. I learned my foundational skills at my mothers side in the kitchen as a child and since then have read almost everything I can find on how to make a good pie crust. I thought I was making the best possible crust I could make in a mixer and with the recipe that I am asked to work with. But now I am really doubting that I even know what a good pie crust is.

The pie crust recipe that I grew up with was simply Crisco, flour salt and water and I love it. When all is said and done (and if I am using the term properly) it comes out flaky and more "tender" than the recipe that I use at work. At home I always make my crust by hand.

At work I need to do the crusts in the mixer and my ingrediants are, lard, flour, sugar, salt, eggs, vinegar and water. I guess I have been nievely happy with my results and trusting them based on compliments from my customers. The results are sort of similar to my crust at home I guess, in a crispier way. I enjoy the flavor and it sort of crispily disolves in my mouth when I eat it. It that not what it should do??????

To have my boss ask me to make a "slightly" tough crust Simply because it is fragile and the waitress are complaining that the edges break when they bump it around or try to cut it with a dull knife sits wrong in my head. But... In an effort to comply and knowing that no matter how much I may think I am right I am sometimes very wrong, today I played with it a little. I made two batches using the recipe that I previously listed altering only the water. In the first I increased the water to two cups of Icy cold water and then added the egges and vinegar and in the second I added the eggs and vinegar to the cup and the brought it to two cups with the icy cold water. Neither batch took all of the liquid and I felt like I was forcing the liquid in. I stopped the mixer as soon as I possibly could (having what to me was a sticky mess.) Wrapped it and put it in the cooler. To me both batches were about the same one a little less sticky than the other. When I rolled them out later I found I needed quite a bit more flour on my table to even work with it and even though I stopped the mixer as soon as I could the dough had elasticity to it which I hate and thought was a sure sign of a tough crust. I was also not happy with the finished result. I no longer broke apard and disolved in my mouth. I guess I could say that it sort of flaked but differently and it seemed and felt doughy. OMG I just dont know any more. I think this is closer to what they want. It definately was not as fragile. But I didnt like it and I like pie.

Anyway I will work on it again tomarrow but I was wondering what others had to say. Maybe what I think is a good crust is completely wrong and My crust really sucks!! What I was fairly confident about I now feel like I have now clue. :eek:
post #2 of 4
I have made pie crust on many occassions . I never used eggs. I use 1/2 butter 1/2 fat and ice water. I cut the fat into the flour useing a dough hook only pulsating the mixer on and off .I dont want to make a paste dough out of it. When the fat and flour looks like course meal. I add icewater in a drizzle and bring together >Thats it. I form into balls and roll out on floured slab of marble. I put in pans then brush with egg white which stops crust from getting soggy.

The purpose of vinigar is to keep dough pliable and soft. Since you only roll out once, dont know why it is required??:lol:
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
I dont get the egg either but I have read that it is supposed to add richness. Anyway that is the recipe that I am supposed to use. I was making it work pretty well I thought until the watresses kept complaining about the edge breaking. Now my boss wants me make it so that the crust stops breaking . I struggling to figure out how to do it without making a sticky tough mess that I am surely not proud to use.
post #4 of 4
Peg -- You've sure got a lot going on.

One thing that's causing complications is a basic diagnosis. Your crust is a bit too tough. The ladies can't cut it with their dull knives because it's not tender enough, so it shatters around the edges where it's crimped or fluted, and at various weak points under the pie, slightly removed from the knife's edge.

The toughness is coming from two things: You're getting too much water into the mix, and you're overworking the dough. Both stem from a common cause, the mixer. Both are exacerbated by the recipe.

Try pulling the bowl from the mixer as soon as you've got half the water you usually use, and adding the remaining liquid while trying to bring the dough together, "by hand." Stop mixing as soon as your dough starts to come together. That is, a bit eariler than you would with your home pie crusts. Divide your dough as usual (eight balls for four covered pies, right?), and divide the unincorporated crumbs evenly among them. Work them with a few very gentle kneads if they need it (sorry, can't help myself), wrap the balls and make then into discs (or vice versa). Then refrigerate almost as usual -- giving them some extra time to fully autolyse. This will also give you very cold dough to roll out.

There's nothing particularly right or wrong about an egg crust. It's a crust as good as any other -- with a slightly richer color than most, but with a little more protein. The extra protein means you have to be careful about getting the crust too tough through over working and/or over moisturizing. In other words, where we started.

I'm familiar with your recipe, although you normally see it scaled down by half, and as 1-1/2 cups lard per 4 cups flour -- which would push your doubled recipe to 24 oz (3 cups) lard. If you research a lot of pie crusts, or just google "egg + pie + crust" you'll see the pretty much the same recipe in a lot of places. The 22 oz thing is a bit of a stumper. You could try adding a bit more lard, but I doubt it's going to make much difference in the greater scheme of things. Still, I've found it's best to err on the side of too much lard rather than too little, and a little more lard isn't going to hurt. It will also make the pie crust work with a bit less liquid.

The thing about lard crusts as compared to Crisco, butter, or part butter/part Crisco is not only the extra "flakiness" that lard brings but a heightened sense of "melt away" as compared to the other shortenings. Lard also brings much less of a taste presence to the party -- which helps it do its disappearing act all the more. Also, lard flakes tend to be horizontal and wider than other flakes which are more "crumby."

What else? Oh yes. Most important thing. Self doubt is starting to creep in. Knock it off. Trust those educated fingers of yours. They know exactly what's going on with the dough when you roll. If it feels good and you still have problems, try and get the dough to feel better -- not worse. Your touch and your instincts are your best friends.


PS. I moved to lard (almost exclusively) for crusts and biscuits from other shortening for a lot of reasons. But since I did, the whold trans-fat thing burst on us, and Crisco got reformulated. I'm not really thrilled with "New Zero Trans-Fat Crisco" for anything. I know it's a tangent, but you like the new stuff for your home baking? Or, are you using something else?
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