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Confused about pastry

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I know how to cook but making a pie crust is like rocket science for me.  I'm looking for a recipe to make a good old fashioned apple pie using butter and lard and the recipes are confusing.  Does anyone have a good beginner method and recipe that is no-fail?  All help is appreciated!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 28

Try one of these:

 

* Exported from MasterCook *

3-2-1 Pie Crust (Pâte Brisée)

Recipe By :Pete V. McCracken, as adapted from
"Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of
Everyday Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman
Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Dough Pies
Savory Sweet
Tarts or Quiches

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
12 ounces flour
4 ounces butter -- cold
4 ounces lard -- cold
2 ounces ice water -- maybe as much as 4 ounces
1 pinch salt -- about 1/2 teaspoon

Combine flour and fats in a mixing bowl and rub
fats with fingers until you have small beads of
fat and plenty of pea sized chunks.

Add ice water gradually and a good pinch of salt
and mix gently, just until combined DO NOT OVER MIX!

shape into two equal disks, wrap in plastic wrap,
and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to roll out

Source:
""Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman, page 25"
Copyright:
"Copyright ©2010 all rights reserved, by Pete
V. McCracken, 657 Village Green St., Porterville,
CA 93257 (559) 784-6192 PersonalChef@cwdi.org"
Yield:
"1 pie shell and lid"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 384
Calories; 26g Fat (61.4% calories from fat); 5g
Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 45mg
Cholesterol; 135mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 5 Fat.


Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0


* Exported from MasterCook *

3-2-1 Pie Crust (Pâte Sucrée)

Recipe By :Pete V. McCracken, as adapted from
"Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of
Everyday Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman
Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Dough Pies
Sweet Tarts or Quiches

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
12 ounces flour
4 ounces butter -- cold
1 ounce sugar
4 ounces lard -- cold
2 ounces ice water -- maybe as much as 4 ounces
1 pinch salt -- about 1/2 teaspoon

Combine flour, sugar, and fats in a mixing bowl
and rub fats with fingers until you have small
beads of fat and plenty of pea sized chunks.

Add ice water gradually and a good pinch of salt
and mix gently, just until combined DO NOT OVER MIX!

shape into two equal disks, wrap in plastic wrap,
and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to roll out

Source:
""Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman, page 26"
Copyright:
"Copyright ©2010 all rights reserved, by Pete
V. McCracken, 657 Village Green St., Porterville,
CA 93257 (559) 784-6192 PersonalChef@cwdi.org"
Yield:
"1 pie shell and lid"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 3182
Calories; 209g Fat (59.2% calories from fat); 36g
Protein; 288g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber;
356mg Cholesterol; 1079mg Sodium. Exchanges: 17
Grain(Starch); 41 Fat; 2 Other Carbohydrates.


Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0

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post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

I know how to cook but making a pie crust is like rocket science for me.  I'm looking for a recipe to make a good old fashioned apple pie using butter and lard and the recipes are confusing.  Does anyone have a good beginner method and recipe that is no-fail?  All help is appreciated!


Keep it cool

Chunks of fat  = flakes

Too much moisture and too much working = tough crust

 

post #4 of 28
Exact ingredient measurements aren't particularly important with pie crust, there's a lot of latitude. If you scale your flour to the nearest 1/2 oz, you're not really changing anything. But make yourself happy.

Use a pie crust recipe, not pate brisee. Pate brisee -- something I like to use for a lot of things -- is too wet and crumbly for an American style pie crust. 3,2,1 is very common but is also too wet if you use all the water. For a double crust: 3 cups flour, 1-1/2 - 2 sticks butter, 3/4 -1 cup lard, 2 tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of baking powder; and as little water as necessary. To prepare the water, mix a cup of water with 2 tbs white vinegar or the juice of half a lemon, and chill it down with a bunch of ice cubes. Don't stint on the ice, you want the liquid COLD.

"Keep it cold" is right. Keep everything cold. For that reason, I think a pastry cutter is better for most people than rubbing in with finger tips.

50/50 lard to butter is right. Or, you could do it the other way. biggrin.gif I go all lard, because I'm looking for max flakiness.

Cut the lard and butter into rough dice and put it in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes before cutting in. When you do cut-in, don't break the fat down into pieces any smaller than a pea. Obviously some pieces are going to be larger than others -- larger than a pea is GOOD.

Mix the flour and fat with a fork until the pieces of fat are well coated.

In any case, you want to use an absolute minimum of liquid. That means use just enough ice water to get about 10% of the dough to hold together in a ball -- the other 90% as crumbs is okay. You should be able to see chunks of fat sticking out of the dough.

Form as many balls as you'll need crusts. If you're using a double recipe, that means two balls. Wrap each ball and its share of crumbs in saran wrap. When you have it wrapped, press it down and form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before rolling out. FYI, during the 1/2 hour rest, the moisture will equilibrate and the large dough mass will incorporate the crumbs.

If you're using a stone or plastic pin, refrigerate it while the dough rests.

Generously flour your board, keep some extra bench flour on hand. Generously flour your pin.

Unwrap the disc, and turn it out onto your board.

Before rolling, press the disc out with your pin. That is make two presses into the disc at right angles to one another forming the shape of a + . The ends of the + should run all the way across the disc. Then turn the disc over, rotate it, and do the same thing from the other side creating a new + offset by 45* from the first. The final shape should look like an X over a +.

Toss a little bench flour onto the surface of the crust.

Start rolling. Always roll from the inside out. That is, start your pin on the crust (don't roll onto an edge), and finish off of it. Don't press too hard. If you're using a simple, French pin don't expect the weight of the pin to do all or even most of the work.

Add more bench flour to the crust and the pin if you notice any sticking. Use your pie plate to measure your progress. For the bottom crust, you need enough for the bottom and side of the plate -- no more. Many people try and make their crusts thin and only end up making them tough by overworking the dough. At this point in the game, thicker is better. That won't always be true, but wait until you're confident about making a good crust before we tweak.

Rolling out will flatten the pieces of butter and lard. Big flat pieces of fat are one of several things which you must have to make a flaky crust. A lot of people confuse "tender" with "flaky." A pate brisee can be tender, but is crumbly and not flaky.

Hope this helps,
BDL

PS. Edits: Fat quantities corrected. "90%" typo corrected.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/19/11 at 9:16am
post #5 of 28

Exact measurements when making pastry is deceptive. A cup of all purpose flour doesn't weigh or act the same as pastry flour. Protein level and humidity make a difference. Here in Canada, all-purpose flour is around 13 gm of protein, but in it's closer to 10 gm or less in the Southern US (see Shirley Corriher's Bakewise or Cookwise, Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pastry / Cake/ Bread Bibles, and others.  I don't have Ratio but those recipes look good to me.)  Then there are the differences in water content in lard, butter, shortening which means you can't swap them indiscriminately.  I think it takes practice, too, to figure out how a good pastry should look & feel, according to your own kitchen/flour conditions.    

 

I agree with the comments above -- keep everything cold, work fast. BDL's detailed description looks good to me. Though to reduce the amount of flour on the bench, I'll roll on a big silpat mat.

 

I used to help my grandmother as she made a dozen pies at a time - she only used lard, but her recipes were scaled according to 1 pound of lard, more pie than I like to make at a time!

 

America's Test kitchen has an interesting recipe that replaces water with vodka.  The vodka doesn't activate the gluten, so the pastry stays tender. Any excuse to buy vodka!

 

post #6 of 28

BDL is reliable as always, though I think he meant "other 10% as crumbs."  And I strongly agree with summer57: if you're too dependent on ratios you can end up making bad crust because you're not responding to differences in your flour etc.  I do a rough flour/fat ratio by weight and don't even bother measuring the ice water: just a little at a time 'til most of the dough kinda hangs together.

 

You may not want to buy another book, Koukouvagia, but Bernard Clayton's _Complete Book of Pastry_ is helpful on different kinds of dough, and he knows his pie.

 

I'll have to try the vodka.

post #7 of 28
Silpat is great. I usually use my granite counter. When rolling out on wood, a little extra flour is better than too little. But otherwise less is more.

Yes, I meant "... at least 90% of the mass holding together," or "no more than 10% of the freshly mixed dough as unincorporated crumbs."

Whether or not it's an exception, I favor mixing pie crust (and biscuit dough, and bread too if you've got the time) by hand. Obviously, you get a better feel.

Flour volume/weight can vary by quite a bit. But since flour/fat ratios aren't that critical, and the flour/water ratio is adjusted according to touch and conditions... just don't worry too much about it. 3 cups flour, 12-14 oz fat, and as little (slightly acidulated) ice water as possible will do the trick every time.

If you have a problem, it's not the ratio.

Good point about different flours. Most APs will work fine -- especially national brands. I've never had any problems with crusts made from King Arthur which is a very strong AP, or from softer APs either. In one way you can look at softer as better since you don't want much in the way of developed glutens. But it's pretty easy to control gluten development by chilling, resting, and minimal handling. So... I don't think it matters much. The exceptions to the rule involve turned, super-flaky, puff-type doughs for top crusts, and this isn't the right place for it.

Worth repeating that I don't have any problem or criticism with Pete's pate brisee. The traditional American pie calls for a slightly different, flakier style, that's all.

BDL

PS. I edited the fat amount, the old amount was a typo.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/18/11 at 9:45pm
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

...Worth repeating that I don't have any problem or criticism with Pete's pate brisee. The traditional American pie calls for a slightly different, flakier style, that's all.

BDL

Um, I tried to be clear, the recipe is not mine, it is Michael Ruhlman's, I just formatted it for Mastercook
 

 

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post #9 of 28
No problem with Ruhlman's brisee either. The style is just a little wetter, the fat broken up more, generally handled more, and ends up more crumbly than the dryer, chunky fat, well rested American style. Really a matter of the size of the pieces the crust breaks into when it's shattered than anything else.

BDL
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Really good info, thank you.  I need lots of explanation when it comes to pastry because I am clueless.  All I know is it's hard.  All I know is mix it but don't mix it.  All I know is keep it cold.  All very difficult things for me.  I'm not emotionally ready to invest in a pastry book and I wouldn't know where to start, thanks for the book suggestion.

 

Panini, I think you need a second cup of coffee today.  Come over for some pie :)

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Really good info, thank you.  I need lots of explanation when it comes to pastry because I am clueless.  All I know is it's hard.  All I know is mix it but don't mix it.  All I know is keep it cold.  All very difficult things for me.  I'm not emotionally ready to invest in a pastry book and I wouldn't know where to start, thanks for the book suggestion.

 

Panini, I think you need a second cup of coffee today.  Come over for some pie :)


Like making biscuits, it's a lot more touch than recipe. Cold helps. Minimum water helps. Handle the dough as gently and as little as necessary -- without being afraid of it -- once you get the liquid in. The little tricks like adding acid or alcohol to the liquid to slow down gluten formation, but they're only little things. The modern aids like using the refrigerator and ice water are nice -- but not absolutely necessary. People have been making great pie crusts for hundreds of years.

Most important though are a couple of things you already know. First, don't stress over the little things. Second, you enjoy cooking. Third, you're a very good cook; and if you don't get it right away you'll get it soon enough. If you have the dexterity to make spanakopita, you can make pie dough.

BDL
post #12 of 28

Sorry guys. My bad. I just hear so much banter about those who want to use baking for some sort of income.

I guess it doesn't matter at home. I can say  that products become great through consistency. I guess it's like my wife's meatloaf.

It is never the same twice, Hence, I have stock in Heinz.

Professionally 10% variance is so not right. It's all about percentages. It goes against everything taught.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Really good info, thank you.  I need lots of explanation when it comes to pastry because I am clueless.  All I know is it's hard.  All I know is mix it but don't mix it.  All I know is keep it cold.  All very difficult things for me.  I'm not emotionally ready to invest in a pastry book and I wouldn't know where to start, thanks for the book suggestion.

 

Panini, I think you need a second cup of coffee today.  Come over for some pie :)

kk,

i am in no way a pastry chef and i am at high altitude which just exacerbates the challenge, but i swear by sherry yard's 'secrets of baking'...she not only knows her stuff, she explains simply and with humor, two very important things for me....i also use vodka in my pastry crust as i think someone mentioned....'one little for me, one little one for the pie'! bdl is right on about if you can make spanokopita, pastry will be a cinch for you...i find it very therapeutic in a way.....just using your hands is such a sensual pleasure......

maybe you can put a shot in pan's coffee today!

joey
 

 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #14 of 28

Ok you guys. LOL Maybe Sambuca!

When you've done what I have for so long 10% slaps you on the side of the head.

I know, it's my tone.

If 1 shop does 1.5 mil. 10% would buy the new Camaro I just bought.

If you want to bake 10 pies for the holidays, will you end up with 9 or 11?

Don't worry, I decided this morning I should start drinking. Just don't know what to buy.

Kouk,

I'm in NYC next Tuesday. How bout I buy the coffee. I'll be on the upper east side doing some TV.

Some of my cousins kids are taking me to OM for lunch.

Daniel for dinner.

Join us if you dare. Just kidding you will pleasantly surprised how nice I can be.

Panini

 

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post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post

Ok you guys. LOL Maybe Sambuca!

When you've done what I have for so long 10% slaps you on the side of the head.

I know, it's my tone.

If 1 shop does 1.5 mil. 10% would buy the new Camaro I just bought.

If you want to bake 10 pies for the holidays, will you end up with 9 or 11?

Don't worry, I decided this morning I should start drinking. Just don't know what to buy.

Kouk,

I'm in NYC next Tuesday. How bout I buy the coffee. I'll be on the upper east side doing some TV.

Some of my cousins kids are taking me to OM for lunch.

Daniel for dinner.

Join us if you dare. Just kidding you will pleasantly surprised how nice I can be.

Panini

 


Wow I hope you have enough room in your tummy to enjoy 2 fabulous meals in the city!  A lovely idea but I'm a new mommy taking care of our newborn while hubby works.  These days the only kind of meal I enjoy is a cold one, eaten with one hand on the couch while nursing my son.  It would be nice if in the future the moderators host some kind of meet up for us in various cities.  Enjoy your day in NY, I think I'll order us up some indian for dinner.

 

What TV??
 

 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #16 of 28

Congatulations,

Boy or Girl?

I had the opportunity to care of our 7 yr. for a year.

Changed my life. OMGosh. Talk about hard jobs!!! I went back to work for a break.LOL

Bless your child

Jeff

10 or so years ago we did meet in NYC for the food show. CTers were great. I will never forget.

 

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post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 

Son, very cute.  What food show?

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post #18 of 28

Well, years ago a bucch of CT people met and visited the fancy food show at the Jacon Javitts Center.

We visited the show, went out to Tapas place. Went to Kraft etc. It was a blast.

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post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Fun, let's do that again one day!

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post #20 of 28

I made an apple pie from the Americas Test Kitchen website..  It was simple and came out perfect.. Check out their website for the crust recipe.

 

1000x500px-LL-6eea7f2e_apple-pie.jpeg

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post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 

Alas, spanakopitas are much easier to make than a pie.  I finally gathered enough courage to make this thing yesterday and it failed.  I used BDL's recipe and method for the pastry and THIS guideline for the filling.  The pastry making went well as much as I feared it.  It's a lot of hard work cutting the butter/lard into the dough but I did it and used about 1/4cup ice water to bring it together.  It was very flaky and hard to roll on to the pin for a transfer but after a little bit of patch work it got onto the pan.  I used macintosh and gala apples from a recent apple picking trip.  I cooked the pie in a ceramic pie dish and followed the time and temperature instructions in the recipe.

 

So the result was, a flaky and delicious top crust bounce.gif A flavorful yet tart filling, however it turned to applesauce.  The bottom crust was mush, terrible mush.

 

So what went wrong?  The crust was pretty thin, I didn't expect it not to cook right.  Did I use the wrong cooking vessel? 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #22 of 28
Ceramic pie plate shouldn't be a problem. Glass is best, but wotthehell wotthehell.

Your filling was too juicy. The first part of the solution is to use baking apples, the second is to make sure they're well drained before seasoning and putting them in the pastry. The third is using a thickening agent.

The most common agents for holding everything together are regular flour or tapioca. Tapioca works a little better, I think. But flour is more popular. For flour, dust the inside of the bottom crust with a couple of tsp of flour, then mix about a tbs more flour into the filling before pouring it into the crust.

Do the same thing with INSTANT tapioca, using 2 tsp on the bottom crust, plus 1 tsp sugar, and mixing a tbs into the filling. Allow the tapioca and filling at least 5 minutes before pouring to give the tapioca a chance to get started. If you don't have instant tapioca (I think the brand is Minute), you can use regular tapioca pearls and grind them up in a spice grinder. Once ground, they work about the same. When you use tapioca, do it with your best sphinx like smile -- tapioca is the hot-mom/scratch-baker's equivalent of stilettos.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/24/11 at 10:41am
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Ceramic pie plate shouldn't be a problem. Glass is best, but wotthehell wotthehell.

Your filling was too juicy. The first part of the solution is to use baking apples, the second is to make sure they're well drained before seasoning and putting them in the pastry. The third is using a thickening agent.

The most common agents for holding everything together are regular flour or tapioca. Tapioca works a little better, I think. But flour is more popular. For flour, dust the inside of the bottom crust with a couple of tsp of flour, then mix about a tbs more flour into the filling before pouring it into the crust.

Do the same thing with INSTANT tapioca, using 2 tsp on the bottom crust, plus 1 tsp sugar, and mixing a tbs into the filling. Allow the tapioca and filling at least 5 minutes before pouring to give the tapioca a chance to get started. If you don't have instant tapioca (I think the brand is Minute), you can use regular tapioca pearls and grind them up in a spice grinder. Once ground, they work about the same. When you use tapioca, do it with your best sphinx like smile -- tapioca is the hot-mom/scratch-baker's equivalent of stilettos.

BDL



What are baking apples? 

 

Well drained how?  They were dry,  no juice except for a little lemon juice.  I forgot to dot the filling with butter, could that have added anything?

 

Why is tapioca like a stiletto?  Splain :)

 

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post #24 of 28
Tapioca, although not available in black sheer, is still the sexy choice. Sexy compared to flour anyway. You'll get a firmer, more transparent, and shinier "sauce" -- altogether more professional appearing. Don't get me wrong, flour is good too.

There are all different kinds of apples in the super. Some are better for eating out of hand, some better for baking. The bakers are drier and hold their shape and consistency better. Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are two good baking apples -- they're especially good when mixed because their flavors are complimentary.

If there's no juice or water on the bottom of the bowl, then there's nothing to drain. You can only do what you can do.

Your pie wasn't too loose for lack of butter. Butter in pies prevents the top fruit from dying out and adds unctuousness, it does nothing for structure.

I forgot to say "congratulations" for your success with the top crust. You're on the way. My guess is that a thickener and a more careful choice of apples will make the rest of the difference. Hope so.

Keep swinging slugger,
BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/24/11 at 8:57pm
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 

I do hope next time will be better.  It's a mushy delicious mess now, hopefully I'll fix the mushiness next time.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

I do hope next time will be better.  It's a mushy delicious mess now, hopefully I'll fix the mushiness next time.


The reason I called you "slugger" is because you strike out some times, but also hit a lot of home runs.

BDL
post #27 of 28

kk,

just a few random thoughts.....

when you mixed your dough was it by hand or with a mixer with paddle? did you refrigerate the dough before filling? what kind of rolling pin did you use...french or dowel(no handles), or the style with handles? you mentioned that it was hard to incorporate the butter into the dough...was the butter frozen or just partially frozen? did you use a pastry cutter? if you mix the dough by hand you gotta squish or flatten the butter with your fingers..maybe your butter was too frozen. when i make pastry i use a dowel pin. you don't need all the extra pressure of the handles. i also think maybe your dough got too warm after rolling....it will stretch too much if it gets too warm....you can fold the dough in half and then half again if that happens, put it over your pan, unroll it and then refrigerate it...this help to not stretch the dough when you are pressing it into the corners. lastly, yes there are certain apples that do better by baking, but i have made pies and tarte tatins with lots of different apples. my favorites are a mix of fuji, jonagold and braeburn. because of their coarse texture sometimes granny smith's can turn to mush. another thing i have done is to carmelize the apples first, then add some caramel...it's kinda a cross between a tarte tatin and an apple pie...as i said, just a few random thoughts.....try again please..... it can only get better.....oh btw bdl.....i think tapioca does now come in black sheer! 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by durangojo View Post

kk,

just a few random thoughts.....

when you mixed your dough was it by hand or with a mixer with paddle? did you refrigerate the dough before filling? what kind of rolling pin did you use...french or dowel(no handles), or the style with handles? you mentioned that it was hard to incorporate the butter into the dough...was the butter frozen or just partially frozen? did you use a pastry cutter? if you mix the dough by hand you gotta squish or flatten the butter with your fingers..maybe your butter was too frozen. when i make pastry i use a dowel pin. you don't need all the extra pressure of the handles. i also think maybe your dough got too warm after rolling....it will stretch too much if it gets too warm....you can fold the dough in half and then half again if that happens, put it over your pan, unroll it and then refrigerate it...this help to not stretch the dough when you are pressing it into the corners. lastly, yes there are certain apples that do better by baking, but i have made pies and tarte tatins with lots of different apples. my favorites are a mix of fuji, jonagold and braeburn. because of their coarse texture sometimes granny smith's can turn to mush. another thing i have done is to carmelize the apples first, then add some caramel...it's kinda a cross between a tarte tatin and an apple pie...as i said, just a few random thoughts.....try again please..... it can only get better.....oh btw bdl.....i think tapioca does now come in black sheer! 

joey


I did it by hand and used a pastry cutter.  I refrigerated the dough for about an hour before rolling and used a rolling pin with handles which is the only one I have.  The butter was in the fridge initially and I placed it in the freezer for about 10 minutes along with the lard.  I may have sliced the apples too thinly.  I kept everything as cold as possible including the flour, mixing bowl, rolling pin, etc.
 

 

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