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Pie Making Equipment

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am about to make my first pie.  From reading, I learned I need a pie crust bag. I went to the store and was told I don't need it.

 

Can someone tell me which equipment I need to make a pie crust?  I would really love to make a pie for Thanksgiving.

 

So far, I have a rolling pin and a marble pastry board and zero experience

 

Thank you so much,

 

missy

 

post #2 of 22

How are you mixing your dough?  In a food processor, or by hand in a bowl?  If the latter, a pastry blender is easier than using 2 knives.  They come in a variety of shapes...find one that is comfortable for you to hold.  Example:  http://www.amazon.com/Oxo-Good-Grips-Dough-Blender/dp/B000QJE48O

 

And a pie plate.  A $10 Pyrex one is fine.  Fancy ceramic ones look cool.

 

That marble board is better than any bag.  Make sure is is cold before you start, to facilitate rolling out the crust.

 

You likely already have everything else you need.

post #3 of 22

You need a pan, a rolling pin, and a  work surface. 

 

Beyond that a food processor simplifies the dough making.

 

A pie weight/chain for blind baking, but beans will do the job if your chosen pie needs a pre-baked crust.

 

I recommend baking on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment to catch any spills from the filling boiling over. Simplifies clean up.

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

KCZ and Phatch...I will probably start with a recipe using a food processor.  I have The Pie and Pastry Bible and the author, Rose Levy Beranbaum, has recipes using a food processor as an option.

 

Thank you, both, for your answer.  All I need is a pyrex pie dish and I'm set!  Thank you!!!

 

I really want to make a pie for Thanksgiving so I better start practicing now.

 

When I do make one, I'll post the picture here

 

Thanks a lot...

 

missy

 

post #5 of 22

If you look in cookbooks or online, you'll find a million different pie crusts -- but there are only four major classifications.  Three of the classes are variations on French classics: pate brisee, sablee and sucree.  And most standard American crusts are brisee with a pinch of sucree.  The fourth is a vinegar/egg crust.  

 

The point of all that blather is that it's not the recipe that makes the difference between good and bad crust -- not when they're all pretty much the same.  It's the technique -- how you put things together.

 

Much better to learn cutting in and mixing by hand than to start with a food processor.  

 

If you want to be a good enough baker to get consistently good results, you need to see and learn what size pieces of fat work best, and how too much water, too much heat, and too much or too little working alter the texture.  Once you've got those things down you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to use a food processor.  

 

It takes an extra three or four minutes at most to cut in the fat (whether lard, shortening, and/or butter) by hand.  Well worth the trouble when you consider the amount of extra control it gives an experienced baker and depth of understanding it gives a beginner.  

 

For instance, what do you think makes a dough tender and flaky -- as opposed to tender and crumbly?  You'll never know unless you see it happen.

 

In bread and pastry making "touch" is everything. 

 

Measuring stuff by weight to the nearest gram and dumping it into the food processor for X number of seconds may work -- but there's not much joy in it.   Still more important than making you a better baker, doing things by hand is a source of fun and tactile pleasure.  

 

BDL

 

PS.  The most common beginner's mistakes are not chilling (or freezing if you're using a food processor) and pre-cubing the fat before cutting in, breaking the fat down into too-small pieces, not allowing the dough enough time to rest in the fridge before rolling, and rolling the dough too thin.  These are things some people never learn.


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/26/10 at 10:35am
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Is it comparable to make a crumb topping for cakes? I always prefer to use my hands even though many recipes suggest a food processor or pastry blender.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Much better to learn cutting in and mixing by hand. 

 

If you want to be a good enough baker to get consistently good results, you need to see and learn what size pieces of fat work best, and how too much water, too much heat, and too much or too little working alter the texture.  Once you've got those things down you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to use a food processor.  

 

It takes an extra three or four minutes at most to cut in the fat (whether lard, shortening, and/or butter) by hand.  Well worth the trouble when you consider the amount of extra control it gives an experienced baker and depth of understanding it gives a beginner.  

 

For instance, what do you think makes a dough tender and flaky -- as opposed to tender and crumbly?  You'll never know unless you see it happen.

 

In bread and pastry making "touch" is everything. 

 

Measuring stuff by weight to the nearest gram and dumping it into the food processor for X number of seconds may work -- but there's not much joy in it.   Still more important than making you a better baker, doing things by hand is a source of fun and tactile pleasure.  

 

BDL

post #7 of 22

Comparable pleasure?  Yes. 

 

Comparable results?  Comparable climbing the learning curve?  Hand working pastry and bread doughs is much more rewarding.  Getting the basics down like minimal hydration and not breaking the fat too fine or letting it get too soft comes pretty easily.

 

BDL

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

BDL,  Is the technique similar?  I have no frame of reference for how it is supposed to come out. I never baked a pie nor have I ever seen anyone do it either.

post #9 of 22

Baking a pie is really two very different operations.  The first is making the crust.  The second is getting the filling in there.

 

Do you need a recipe for regular old American pie crust?  The type of recipe I write with all the detail and explanation?  I can do it over the next day or so, but don't think I'd have it done today.  It will take some time to remember all the steps in sequence. 

 

BDL

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

Oh, that is so nice of you but please don't go to any trouble.   I belong to Rose Levy Beranbaum's forum and she has instructional video's posted.  I am just a little nervous because it is new to me.  Didn't you once tell me that we can eat our mistakes   I always like to come to this forum for a professional opinion on anything I do.  I think that is why the things I do make are really better than the norm.  I'm very lucky I have such nice friends, such as you <3

 

However, if I run into a problem, is it okay if I ask your advice?

 

missy
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Baking a pie is really two very different operations.  The first is making the crust.  The second is getting the filling in there.

 

Do you need a recipe for regular old American pie crust?  The type of recipe I write with all the detail and explanation?  I can do it over the next day or so, but don't think I'd have it done today.  It will take some time to remember all the steps in sequence. 

 

BDL

post #11 of 22

The process is somewhat like making a topping for cakes or crisps.  I never have much success making pie crust with my hands because the dough gets too warm and the crust gets gooey-ish.  You want it to hold together just enough so you can roll it out (after it's chilled).  It's easy to overwork the dough in a food processor...I would do it with a pastry blender until you get the hang of recognizing the right consistency of the dough.

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

KCZ,  It would probably be best for me to start that way instead of using a food processor.  I think I would have more control with a pastry cutter or my hands than a food processor.

 

Do you use plastic bags on the dough to prevent warming it with your hands?

 

post #13 of 22

Pretty much always available to help.

 

I'm not sure what's making problems for KCZ, but it shouldn't be the pastry blender.  Chill the shortening until it's cold enough to cut into small cubes with a knife.  Put the cubes in a plastic bag and hold them frozen until ready to use.  

 

When you cut them in, don't cut them in too small.  Many recipes recommend that the flour/fat mix should look like "cornmeal" or "coarse cornmeal" after the fat is cut in, but that's much too fine.  There will be a range of sizes, but if you want a flaky (as opposed to crumbly) crust, there should be a significant number of pieces of fat as large as baby peas -- at the smallest. 

 

KCZ's problems probably come from too much water, although perhaps her fat is overheated from working.  If you're worried about the fat getting too soft, you can and should rest the dry dough in the fridge. 

 

You want to use as little water -- and ice water at that -- as necessary to bring the dough together.  The less water, the flakier the crust.  And, if it doesn't quite come together entirely, if there are a few unincorporated crumbs, that's okay.  When you think the dough's come together enough, turn it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to form a ball, then press it gently with your palm to form a disk -- extra crumbs and all. You should be able to see pieces of fat in the ball and disk.

 

Let it rest and autolyze in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling it out.  Don't hurry it.

 

Don't roll it too thin.  Thin isn't more professional.  Thin is tough. 

 

Ultimately, what makes for "flakiness" are pieces of fat: neither too large nor too small; entirely coated with flour; stacked on top of each other (by hydrating the dough, mixing and forming into a mass); flattened by rolling; and melted during the baking process leaving stacks of very thin layers of pastry behind.  

 

So, you need to make sure the pieces of fat are well coated with flour when cutting in, but not cut them too small.  Use as little mixing (aka "work") and moisture as necessary to form a dough mass -- and no more.  Roll only until you've flattened the pieces of fat, and reached an appropriate thickness (rolling is "work" too).

 

Remember:  Work makes tough crusts.  Wet dough makes for crumbly and/or tough crusts.  The refrigerator and a little extra time are two very good friends.

 

There's no substitute for touch and learning to read the visual cues.  This all becomes much easier with experience.  Don't expect to be Jo-Mama, Master Baker the first few times.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/27/10 at 9:46am
post #14 of 22

I've become a fan of the small wrapped shortening bricks. They're pre-measured like butter with  lines for tablespoons and so on. They're well sealed so the un-opened shortening keeps better than the tubs which is good for the small amounts I use. A bit more expensive per ounce but less waste in my case and much more convenient. 

 

I hope they're still available as I'm just about out.   They're still on the web site.

 

http://www.crisco.com/Products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupID=17&prodID=803

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm on my way out to look for a pie plate..I'm enthused

 

Question...I was planning on using butter, not shortening...it that a mistake?

 

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

You have always been a great help to me, every step of my journey..Thank you 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Pretty much always available to help.

 

BDL

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by missyjean View Post

 

Question...I was planning on using butter, not shortening...it that a mistake?

 


The all butter pastry doughs tend to be more finicky as butter tends to have varying amounts of water. It's not enitirely consistent. At least that's my experience with pure butter doughs. Most pastry dough is a blend of butter and shortening or lard.  The dough I've had best success with is from the Joy of Cooking. From memory it's something like 2.5 cups of flour, a little salt, 2 sticks of butter and 2 tablespoons of shortening and up to 6 tablespoons of cold water. Not a lot of shortening.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #18 of 22

3-2-1 pie dough is, by weight, 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part water, according to "RATIO, The Simple Codes to the Craft of Everyday Cooking", by Michael Ruhlman, page 23-25. For a 9", two crust pie, that works out to:

  • 12 ounces flour
  • 8 ounces butter or lard or shortening, or combination thereof (I like 5 ounces of butter and 3 ounces of shortening, but that's ME!)
  • 2-4 ounces ice water
  • pinch or two of salt
  • up to two tablespoons of sugar, if you want a sweet crust)
Chef,
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post #19 of 22

All lard is the flakiest crust.  A mix of lard and better has the taste most people prefer.  All lard is my favorite for taste, but you've got to be able to get good lard.  Easy in SoCal with Farmer John (excellent lard!) and all the Mexican meat markets, but apparently not a given in some parts of the country. 

 

Butter tends to make for a cumbly as opposed to flaky crust, but technique is more important.

 

The new "0-TransFat" shortenings aren't as good as the old ones -- especially Crisco.  On the other hand, the super cheap, generic shortenings which include "animal products" work, but they also include "HeapMuchPlenty TransFat."  Amazing when lard is the health conscious choice, isn't it?

 

As I wrote earlier, American pie crust recipes tend to be very similar and Pete's 3,2,1 is right down the middle.    There usually isn't enough difference in ratios in them to make much of a difference in taste or texture.  Again, that's up to technique. 

 

Learning to use the pin, flattening, not rolling off the end of the crusts, turning the dough, and a lot of similar handling things will probably be the highest parts of the learning curve.  If you're searching for a recipe off the net, or evaluating cookbook recipes, try and look for the ones that have more generous amounts.  You want to have extra to play with in case there are mistakes -- pie dough won't allow too many mulligans; and you don't want to force yourself to roll out too thin especially in the beginning

 

Speaking of beginning, you'll hear a lot of "as little as possible," in terms of hydration and handling especially.  Keep a little healthy scepticism about you, it's easy to overdo that and become afraid to wet or handle the dough.  "Just a skosh more than as little as possible" is the middle path Buddha would bake. 

 

Bake like Buddha, you betcha!

BDL

post #20 of 22

BDL,

I guess I wasn't clear...I was trying to answer Missy's question about using one's hands to mix pastry dough.   I'm advocating using a pastry blender, rather than one's hands.  Every time I stick my hot hands in a bowl of pie dough, regardless of the starting temp of the fat, I end up with soft fat and sticky dough.  I'm going to nominate my pastry blender for the other thread on one's most valued kitchen tool. 

post #21 of 22

KCZ,

 

Rereading your post, I see that by hand you specifically meant rubbing in with fingers; not merely contrasting by hand with the use of a food processor -- the false conclusion to which I stupidly leapt. 

 

More sloppy reading than ambiguous writing.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

seppuku.jpg

 

BDL
 


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/27/10 at 4:30pm
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

I have that book on my hold list in the library for the longest time.  There must be a lot of people reading it.  I'm looking forward to reading it too
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

3-2-1 pie dough is, by weight, 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part water, according to "RATIO, The Simple Codes to the Craft of Everyday Cooking", by Michael Ruhlman, page 23-25. For a 9", two crust pie, that works out to:

  • 12 ounces flour
  • 8 ounces butter or lard or shortening, or combination thereof (I like 5 ounces of butter and 3 ounces of shortening, but that's ME!)
  • 2-4 ounces ice water
  • pinch or two of salt
  • up to two tablespoons of sugar, if you want a sweet crust)
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