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Pie crust shrinking

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

New to the forum, but a long time baker. having moved around the world, I've been out of the game for awhile, but recently started baking again. Using my mother's recipes, I've come up short on one ingredient here, which I think is the issue I'm having with my pie crust.

Here in South Korea shortening is a pretty rare commodity. So I've been substituting butter in the recipe, I believe it's 79-80% fat

 

The recipe is:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (originally 3/4 cup shortening)

4 tbsp water and then add water as needed to reach the right mix

 

pretty simple, cooked at 350 for 40-45 minutes

makes enough for a top and bottom

the issue I'm running in to is that during baking the edge of the pie crust is retracting significantly. About 1/2 inch and the way around. The pie plates I'm using have significant lips on them, some I'm trimming the crust to the edge of the lip, but it's pulling back all the way across that and then some.

 

My mother doesn't seem to have this issue, and I'm guess it is because I'm using butter.

Are there any small changes I could make to this recipe to help with the retracting crust?

 

 

post #2 of 19

There is no mention of any filling so, I am assuming you are baking the crust since your filling does not need baking right ?

 

This calls for blind baking... you put some weight to the crust while baking using uncooked  beans (cover the crust w/ foil then fill it up all the way to the top),  then bake.  Or there is some metal balls that is made specially for this purpose. 

post #3 of 19

Be sure your dough has rested and is cold when you roll it out. Also I suggest mealy for the bottom and flaky for the top.You can do this when your cutting in your fat.Be sure not to over work your dough, this will develop gluten's.

Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Sorry, the fillings vary. So far I've made cherry and blueberry (from can fillings, fresh fruit here is not cheap). So the crusts are cooked with the filling together.

I may be overworking the crust. It's been years since I've had a chance to really make one.

post #5 of 19

Your recipe is very close to a "Pate Brise"  After working the flour, salt, and butter into small pea size pieces add the water slowly until the dough just comes together. Use ice cold water. Allow the dough to get cold in the refridge and roll cold. 

 

After rolling and placing in the pie plate, place the whole thing in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Have your oven pre-heated. Take the pie directly from the freezer to the oven. 

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much. I'll probably make another one next weekend and I'll try to make it like this.

post #7 of 19

As Cape Chef said, the crust is retracting because the glutens (proteins in the flour) are over-developed; and they "pull back" when they heat up.  The most common causes of over-developed glutens are over-working the dough during the mixing, not allowing a long enough rest in the refrigerator between mixing and rolling out, and/or too much manipulation during the roll-out.  At a guess, you're doing all of the above -- my guess based on the fact that nearly all beginners make all of those mistakes.

 

To clarify something else he said, "flaky" crusts come from bigger pieces of fat, "crumbly" from smaller.  So, he's recommending making two separate crusts.  Personally, I don't feel it's worth the trouble unless you're making three or four pies; but that's up to you.  Also -- and maybe even more important -- most people confuse the term "flaky" with "tender."  Not all tender crusts (and all crusts should be tender) are flaky.  As a general rule, pate brisee is not flaky. 

 

Tough crusts usually result from too much liquid and/or over-manipulation.  Substituting ice-cold vodka for some or all of the scant amount of liquid helps make for a tender crust because alcohol interferes with gluten development.  Don't worry, you won't be able to taste the alcohol in the final product.  Sometimes I use a liqueur for my crusts, and when I don't I almost always use plain water, But water is a matter of habit more than anything else.  There's no reason you shouldn't use vodka.

 

There are at least a few recipes which describe proper technique on CT -- a couple of them mine.  In addition, there are recipes all over the web.  In addition to looking for double crust recipes which talk about keeping liquid down to a minimum and everything cold, seek one that calls for 3 cups of flour instead of 2.  The ingredients don't cost enough to make economy worthwhile, but a smaller recipe often means rolling out too thin.  At this stage of the game, just look for "pie crust" as opposed to "pate brisee."

 

If you can't find something which tells you in detail how to make a tender, flaky double crust (without a food processor), let me know and I'll post one for you in this thread.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/25/12 at 10:56am
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post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

well, I tried it the suggested way this time, I was very paranoid about over working it, so I tried to be quite gentle.

I mixed the flour and salt, and added the 1/2 cup of softened butter. Don't have a pastry cutter, so I used a fork, I mixed it it somewhat, getting it into small pieces, not a total mashing like I was doing before.

I then started to add water, stirring gently with the fork.

I didn't really know how much I should try and force it at this point. I added 3 Tablespoons of cold water, and stirred it gently. Still pretty significantly not together.

So I added 1 tablespoon at a time and gave it a few stirs after to see how much it clung together. I ended up putting around 8 tablespoons. At that point it finally seemed to cling together without me really working in to it.

 

It feels like an entirely different crust that what I had before. This is quite soft.

I put it in the fridge for a bit, then cut it in half and rolled it out.

 

I used a fork to puncture the bottom a bit. I could already see that it is going to have air bubble issues, but hopefully the puncturing will take care of that.

I put the cherry in, rolled out the top and used a small cutter to put some air holes in the top and now it is in the freezer.

 

I'm just about to take it out and put it into the oven to see how it'll go.

 

post #9 of 19

Softened butter??? The butter should be ice cold.  You could freeze and grate it, though i usually just take it from the fridge.  If the butter is soft, it gets absorbed by the flour, and then it won't be flakey - the flakiness comes from the butter melting between sheets of wet flour. 

 

Then i'd add the water all at once, and toss it up with my hands, then try to press into a ball.  If it doesn't stick enough and if pressing on it with your fingers makes it crumble, then crumble it all, wet your hand and sprinkle on it again, toss and press. 

 

let us know how it comes out.  Did you remember to let it rest half hour before rolling out? 

 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 19

Freeze the butter and cut it in and use ice water only the colder the better . and try and work it on  a piece of marble  or cold surface.in an air conditioned kichen. After it comes together wrap in plastic and refrig or freeze a while before rolling out. Now dont overwork it when rolling out or it will get tough.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

I didn't realize that the butter should be that cold. I thought it should be a little soft to help working it in. This time it seems to be a lot better though. I haven't had a chance to eat any yet, but I did get a little nibble of some crust overhang and The flavor and texture is much better.

 

I was a bit pressed for time, I had to start later at night, and finished cooking it at half past midnight so I was only able to leave it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. Next time I'll try 30 minutes. I did get it in the freezer for the full 30 minutes though.

 

This crust is definitely much much better. It wasn't tough at all, very stretchy and soft. It only shrunk a tiny tiny amount after cooking. I also brushed with a mixture of egg and water to help it brown a bit. i did this right after taking out of the freezer and on the way to the oven.

 

I definitely didn't overwork it this time. I only gently stirred it with the fork to make sure it all came together and then gently shaped it in to a ball. Then cut it in half and shaped each half into a ball before rolling out. It definitely made a big difference. We have guests today so we'll get a chance to eat it, I'll let you know how it turned out, and if it's still not quite there, then I'll try shaving the butter next time.

 

 

post #12 of 19

I think you need a REAL recipe, one that has the technique explained, and not just a list of ingredients.  I think almost every cookbook i have tells you that the butter has to be cold, how to work it very little, let it rest, etc.  Did you get your recipe on internet? 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

I think you need a REAL recipe, one that has the technique explained, and not just a list of ingredients.  I think almost every cookbook i have tells you that the butter has to be cold, how to work it very little, let it rest, etc.  Did you get your recipe on internet? 



as I mentioned I got my recipes from my mother.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

Not sure why, but my last post went to moderation.

My recipes all come from my mother.

 

I will say after doing it this way the crust is much better, and quite but the cherries seemed to suffer, perhaps the 30 minutes in the freezer didn't agree with them.


Edited by Crossmr - 3/31/12 at 3:21am
post #15 of 19

I'm sorry, i think i read it the first time, but then when i came back to answer i overlooked where you got it. 

Then that makes sense, she had experience with piecrust and knew how tio do it but just wrote down the ingredients. 

 

Here's my technique.  (And i tell you, i never bother to rest the dough, because i don;t work it much, and i never put it to freeze before baking, unless i'm doing a blind prebaked shell, and want to get it done in advance.)

 

Take the flour and salt and stir so it's combined. 

 

Take the butter right from the fridge and cut it in small cubes, run a knife down the stick, then cross cut every 1/4 inch or so.  If the kitchen is very hot, then you can freeze it first, but i never remember to do that, even in the summer. 

 

throw it into the bowl.  If you have a mixer, use the mixer and watch it like a hawk, on medium-slow, and stop when it's crumbly, with large crumbs, sort of like oatmeal - some larger some smaller. 

If by hand, you can rub between your fingertips lightly (they;re less warm than the hand) (It would be easy if i could show you) or use a pastry cutter, or use two knives, but cut, don't press with a fork, because pressure makes heat and melts the butter. 

 

Even if you used a mixer, now use your hands. 

add the water, toss, try to press together, if it crumbles on pressure, then break up and sprinkle more, etc, till you have a ball.  You can flatten the ball and wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for ten minutes to half an hour, esp if the room is hot. 

If you overworked it, it should relax the gluten so it won't shrink.   I usually skip this step, because i find it annoying to then have a hard disk of dough to have to hammer back to being malleable enough to roll out.  If it's hard, just beat it all over with the flat of the hammer. 

 

Put on floured parchment paper and roll from center to about an inch from the edge.  Turn 1/6 to the right and do the same, center to within an inch of the edge, and keep going around like that.  Put in pan.  If you're baking a two crust pie, just roll out the second half (you can keep the first half in the pan in the fridge or freezer if you like while you roll out the second half). 

Then  pour the filling in, cover with the other disk, brush with milk for a browned crust, and bake.  Don;t freeze it with the filling. 

 

this should work. 

 

Too bad you don;t have your mother at your side to show you, but I hope this will help evoke her pies at least!

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately 14000km is a bit far for her to come to make a pie ;) I had successfully made pies before but it was years ago. So I've basically forgotten everything at this point.

This time wasn't bad, but next time I'll try the hard butter.

I might try and whip up another one next weekend and see if it turns out even better.

She also typically makes the pie with shortening and not butter. But shortening is near impossible to find here unless I want to buy 4.5 kg boxes of it, and I can't be sure I'm getting trans fat free stuff.

This one was not bad. I rolled the upper crust a little thin, but over all it was 10x better than the last pie.

 

post #17 of 19

Use lard, it's better than vegetable shortening or butter for texture.  For the best combination of texture and taste, use lard and butter in equal proportions. 

 

If you cut the fat into the dough with your hands, you can get flatter pieces.  If you use a pastry cutter, the fat will retain more integrity.  Both go towards "flaky" (as opposed to "crumbly") pastry.  I prefer to use a pastry cutter and get the flattening during the rolling process.

 

When you cut the fat into the flour, you want largish pieces of fat.  That is, when you bring the dough together into a ball (then press it into a disk), pieces of fat should be visible.  Some recipes for pastry crust call for cutting the fat in until the dough has the consistency of "corn meal."  That's NOT what you want.  "Pea" sized pieces are the minimum for flaky pastry.  I leave mine bigger.

 

You're still using too much water.  When you add water, use barely enough ICE water to bring about 90% of the dough together.   Turn it into a large piece of plastic cling wrap (e.g., Saran Wrap).  Use the cling film to wrap the dough and form a ball.  Then, press the dough into a thick disk on the counter.  Put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to rest before dividing and rolling out.  

 

The less water, the more tender.  The colder, the more tender and the less shrink prone. 

 

Pie crust wants minimal handling, but it's not biscuit dough and doesn't need to be handled very gently.

 

You're making things very difficult for yourself by not reading a good recipe.  This is part of a very techinque oriented recipe I wrote awhile ago and posted on CT.  If you want to read all the varitations they're here.

 

 

PIE CRUST RECIPE, THEME AND VARIATIONS

 

Lard is best for flakiness. Butter adds flavor and tenderness. Good vegetable shortening makes for forgiving handling. Good vegetable shortening is not the same easy proposition it once was.

Well chilled ingredients contribute to a flaky crust.

There are a lot of recipes for pie crust, or maybe I should write, "recipes" in quotes. Most are very slight variations on a simple set of proportions. I.e., For each cup of flour, figure: More than a third but less than a half cup (in other words, 6 or 7 tablespoons) of lard and/or butter and/or shortening; 1/2 teaspoon of salt; and no more than 2 tbs ice water.

From the simplicity of the ingredient list you see the real distinction in crusts comes from technique. Personally, I blend a little French pate brisee technique along with good ol' American and the miracle of modern refrigeration. Leaving us with:
 

MEDITATIONS ON A THEME

FLAKY PIE CRUST RECIPE AND VARIATIONS


BASIC RECIPE
(Two 9" pies or top and bottom for a two crust pie)



Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp salt
1cup, plus 2 tbs ice cold lard; or 1 cup lard, plus 2 tbs butter.
Ice water as necessary

Technique:
Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Set them, bowl and all, in the freezer to chill. Measure the lard, break it into small pieces and set it into the freezer to chill.

Remove the flour and lard from the refrigerator. Cut the lard into the flour using a pastry cutter or rub it in with your fingers. Most recipes specify that the lard should be cut in well enough so the mixture looks like corn meal -- this results in a crumbly rather than flaky crust. Instead, allow for a little inconsistency in the texture and cut in the lard just until it picks up all the loose flour.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and return to the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile prepare a glass of ice water.

Remove the flour from freezer. Add about 1-1/2 tbs of ice water. Form the fingers of one hand into a curved paddle and use them to mix the water into the flour until it forms a dry dough. Add more water if necessary, but as little as possible. You'll probably want another 1 or 2 tsps. Be careful not to overmix. If the dough leaves a little flour unincorporated, that's fine. Don't worry, final mixing will come later.

Turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a piece of cling wrap. Use the wrap to form it into a ball. Wrap it tightly, and put it into the refrigerator for ten minutes.

The extra mixing I told you about is a French technique called fraisage. While it's not typical of American pie making, it's makes a positive contribution to texture. On the other hand, you can omit it without losing too much by mixing the dough slightly more thoroughly to begin with.

If you're doing the fraisage, remove the dough from the refrigerator and cling wrap, turning it out onto a lightly floured board. Using the heel of your hand, flatten the ball into a disc. Again, using the heel of your hand (not the palm) knead it very gently, seven or eight times. If you don't knead gently, you will surely make the dough tough; if you use your palms instad of the heels of your hands, you'll warm the dough too much -- making it less flaky If you over knead, western civilization as we know it will end. Stop kneading at once if and when the dough starts to feel flexible or appears shiny.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Wrap each in cling wrap and press into a disk. Return to the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.

If necessary, lightly flour your board. Turn one disk out onto it. Using a floured (and preferably chilled) pin, press an X -- not too gently -- across the entire diameter of the disk. It will help in rolling the dough into a more or less symmetrical circle of even thickness. To roll out, roll from the center of the disk (and X), turning the dough as necessary to make sure the dough doesn't stick to the board and to keep the circle even. Roll out until the circle is 10" in diameter, or very slightly more. You can measure by turning the pie pan over and checking its top against the dough As with almost every part of pastry dough making, work as gently and as quickly as you can.

With the top crust formed on the board, pick it up by gently rolling it onto your pin, starting on the edge nearest you and rolling it on away from your body . Leave some slack so the rolls drape loosely on the pin. Then, carefully lift the pin over the pie pan, and starting just behind (about 1/2") it, so you drape a bit of dough over the back of the pan, unroll the dough towards you. This should center the dough perfectly in the pan. The whole rolling, lifting and unrolling the dough will stretch the dough enough that it should leave a drape all around the edges of the pan.

While this sequence of "towards" and "away" isn't necessarily critical, it's most comfortable for nearly everyone and a good habit to develop.

Using your finger tips very gently push the dough into the seam where the bottom of the pan meets the edge -- as and if necessary.

(For a two crust pie: Fill the bottom crust, then form the top crust; carry it to the pie; and unroll it in the same way.)

Form or crimp your edges in the usual way. Be aware a lard or lard and butter crust will not allow the same crisp crimping as shortening or shortening and butter.

 

VARIATION 1


For an extra flaky and crisp crust, change the flour amount to 2 cups AP flour; 1 cup cake flour, less two tbs; and 2 tbs whole wheat flour. The flours play against one another in that the cake flour adds some tenderness and the wheat flour some crispness.

But what makes this variation worthwhile isn't the ingredients, it's the flakiness engendered by technique.

Instead of cutting the lard into the flour, roll it in as follows. Use a small melon baller to cut the lard and butter into small pieces -- or semi-freeze the fats and use a knife. Put the pieces with the dry ingredients in a gallon size plastic bag, and shake to make sure each piece is well coated with flour. Sometimes that means allowing the bag to sit on the counter for a few minutes first so the fats are warm enough that the flour will stick. Afterwards, if necessary return to the freezer until the fats are again semi-frozen.

Remove the bag, make sure it's completely closed, then either open one corner very slightly or pierce the top with a needle to allow air to escape. Then use your rolling pin to roll the fats into the dough. You'll see large flakes develop as you roll. Rotate the bag, and turn it over as you go to make sure the pressure is applied evenly. Shake occasionally to keep the loose flour distributed evenly. After a few minutes there won't be any more loose flour, and all of the butter and lard will have been pressed into very thin flakes. Chill again, then add water and form a dough as before.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

 

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post #18 of 19

Instead of flouring the board or counter top, spray with Pam . Dough won't stick and no addittional flour will be added.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #19 of 19

I don't like Pam for pie dough.  If, for whatever reason, you don't want to use bench flour, roll out on a non-stick mat suck as a Silpat.  Personally I use bench flour and roll out directly on our granite counter tops. When I rolled out on a wooden board, I just used flour and got exemplary results. 

 

However, that's way down the list of technical improvements you should make.

 

If you're not going to use my recipe, use another one with a very detailed and step by step description of technique.  As it stands, you know far too little to put it together one suggestion at a time. 

 

BDL

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