Hellllooo from a newbie!


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Hello everyone

I'm so happy to have found this forum!

My name is Rebecca or Becky.

I am a hobby baker who never dreamed when I first began 5-6 years ago that I would come this far, I am very pleased with myself, with patience and learning from trial and error I have taught myself many complex and previously impossible skills, but for some inexplicable reason I'm still stuck with lots of very simple things; i.e. shortcrust pastry, I've tried a zillion different recipes and it always goes wrong somewhere.

A bit about me in case you're interested; I'm 51, I live in Manchester, England with a soft wuss of a pooch 'Barney Baloo' half white GSD and half Japanese Akita, I love animals and for a job I teach emotional and soulful development to adult survivors of child abuse.

I'm looking forward to joining in :)
 
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Hello everyone

I'm so happy to have found this forum!

My name is Rebecca or Becky.

I am a hobby baker who never dreamed when I first began 5-6 years ago that I would come this far, I am very pleased with myself, with patience and learning from trial and error I have taught myself many complex and previously impossible skills, but for some inexplicable reason I'm still stuck with lots of very simple things; i.e. shortcrust pastry, I've tried a zillion different recipes and it always goes wrong somewhere.

A bit about me in case you're interested; I'm 51, I live in Manchester, England with a soft wuss of a pooch 'Barney Baloo' half white GSD and half Japanese Akita, I love animals and for a job I teach emotional and soulful development to adult survivors of child abuse.

I'm looking forward to joining in :)
hello Becky. Welcome to the forum. Looking forward to seeing your baking projects. It sounds like you do some very meaningful work. I know what an Akita is, but what’s a GSD?
 
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Hello Norcalbaker thank you for your kind welcome. :)

GSD = German Shepherd.

Ooooo can we upload pics of our bakes too?
 
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:D I was thinking GSD stood for some kind of exotic breed. I love shepards. My brother got a black shepard when he was a teen. But the poor pup was so homesick for its mother and littermates that he would barely eat of play. After a couple of weeks everyone thought it was best to return him to the original owner.

Don’t worry about the baking disasters. I’ve baked for 20 yrs, have had more training than the average professional even and still have my share of them A few years ago I took a perfectly baked and decorated cake to a party. In my excitement of seeing friends that I had not seen in years, I set the cake down on the kitchen counter, then greeted them and promptly forgot about the cake. Of course a great deal of cooking happened in the kitchen before dessert. Italian meringue buttercream is very sensitive to heat. Imagine my horror when shortly before dessert the hostess came over to whisper in my ear, “your cake is melted.”.

Cest La Vie!

Oh, everyone still ate the cake;) No one ever says no to cake.
 
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Oh my goodness! I bet looking on the bright side you are happy that the incident provided you with THE most perfect dinner party anecdote for the next 30 years :)

Oh it's just this shortcrust pastry issue it drives me crazy! However I am so happy to report that I recently found a recipe that I got right (pulsed in the blender to just before it turns into a ball) but after it's been chilled it cracks and is too dry to roll, even if I leave it for 10-15 before rolling, it's making me wonder if chilling it is REALLY necessary because there's never anything wrong with it before it's chilled.

I'm so glad your brother did the kind and honourable thing.
 
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Welcome to the forum Becky! You'd absolutely be welcomed to share pictures of your bakes here :)
 
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Hello Cahoot happy Wednesday!

Thank you for the welcome, I shall look forward to sharing pics of my bakes and also look forward to pics of everyone else's.
 
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@TheEmotionalPainkiller

My sister asked me last week to write out an explanation on pie dough for her... excuse the typos I use the dictation feature on my iPhone because I’m too lazy to type stuff out. The brands I refer to are US brands. The flour in the UK is naturally much lower in protein than American flour. Your plain flour is equivalent to our pastry flour. But for pie crust, The ratios should translate fine.

All about pie crust

1. Right Ratios: The recipes out there are wrong on the ratios. You have to get the right amount of fat and water in the dough. See below.

2. Technique: use the correct mixing technique. The rough puff pastry produces the best flaky crunchy crust. see below.

3. Bake hot: start at 425°F (218°C). Reduce to 385°F (195°C) after 10 minutes

4. Rack position: Most bakers put the rack dead center. But the bottom of the pie should be one rung below the middle because the pie will not be in the center if the rack is dead center.

5. Metal rimmed baking sheet: preheat the baking sheet with the oven.

6. Thickener: Use Tapioca Starch!!! Use the correct thickener. Most recipes call for cornstarch (cornflour) or flour. These are incorrect. See below

7. Use glass or metal pie plate.

8. Do NOT dock pie crust unless you are blind baking it. If you dock a pie crust that is going to be filled and baked, the juice fills the holes and makes the crust soggy

9. For apple pie, cut apples uniformly and no more than 1/2” thick. Par-cook apples. Then completely cool before filling the pie shell.

  1. Do not use sweet apples for pie. Sweet apples break down when baked due to higher natural pectin content. The breakdown will leave a large gap between the top crust and apple filling after baking. Use a tart apple.

===•••===•••===•••===

Bakers percentages for pie crust:

  • Flour 100%
  • Fat 70%
  • Water 30%
  • Sugar 5%
  • Salt 1.5%

===•••===•••===•••===

Double pie crust - mix dough day before and rest overnight for best crust. Resting allows the flour to fully hydrate and the gluten to relax.

===•••===•••===•••===

320g all purpose flour (2 1/4c dip & level you must use this method if you use volume measurements) (1.00%)

16g (1 TBSP) sugar (.05%)

224g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold (.70%)

5g (1 tsp) Diamond brand kosher salt (.015%)

96ml (7.5 TBSP) ice water (.30%)

Method

  1. Dissolve salt in ice water.
  2. In large bowl whisk sugar into flour
  3. cut butter into half inch cubes
  4. Toss butter into flour
  5. Pinch each butter cubes flat into flour
  6. Stir salt water into flour and butter
  7. Mix the flour and butter into a dough ball
  8. Lightly flour work surface
  9. Roll ball into rectangle
  10. Fold each end to center
  11. Fold in half for double book fold
  12. Turn dough 1/4
  13. Roll the dough into a rectangle
  14. Double book fold
  15. 1/4 turn
  16. Roll the dough do a rectangle
  17. Double book fold
  18. Divide the dough in two; one slightly larger piece. The larger piece will be the bottom crust.
  19. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  20. Resting the dough is necessary to allow the gluten to relax and allow the flour to fully hydrate. Resting overnight is best.
  21. Allow the dough to warm up for approximately 15 minutes before rolling.
  22. Do not dock (poke holes) in crust unless blind baking
  23. After placing crust in pie plate, and rolling out top, cover with plastic wrap and fully chill at least 20 - 30 minutes before filling. May rolled out and chill hours in advance, or freeze 3 months in advance. Just take care to wrap well with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn.

===•••===•••===•••===

Rough puff instructions in this video. Follow the mixing instructions through three double folds. Since you are making pie dough not rough puff pastry you do not need to chill and do additional folds and turns. But you need to rest the pie dough after it is mixed. That is a must.

https://www.finecooking.com/article/episode-9-rough-puff-pastry-tarts


===•••===•••===•••===

Note on Flours brands:

Unbleached - all of these flowers are in fact Central Milling Beehive 10.5% protein
  • Whole Foods 365 all purpose
  • Safeway O organics all purpose
  • Central Milling Beehive (available on their website)

I do not recommend King Arthur all purpose flour for pie crust because the protein content is way too high at 11.7%. Too strong a flour makes a tough crust; high protein means more gluten, which means more elasticity. So a more difficult dough to roll and work with. It also more elasticity causes more shrinkage in baking.

I also do not recommend Bob’s Red Mill because they do not care enough about the quality of their flour to maintain a consistent source of wheat. Their protein content varies from 10% - 12%. So one bag can be like pastry flour, the next bag can be bread flour!

Fat: European style butter at 83% butterfat such as Pulgra provides flavor and is not too soft. (assuming you are in US)

Water: 30% water is correct. The biggest myth in baking is add Just enough water to pie dough to pull it together. That is completely wrong. Do you need water to make a dough. Puff pastry is flaky and crunchy. It has 50% water in it. So do not believe that crap about sprinkling water a tablespoon at a time into pie dough. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, believe the master. I purchased the textbook from the top baking school in America. It’s 30% water.

===•••===•••===•••===

Thickener: tapioca starch is the best thickener or fruit filling. Tapioca is clear, is odorless and flavorless, and has what is referred to as a “long” texture. The cornstarch available to consumers is opaque, has a distinct corn flavor, and it has a short texture, so it does not bind smoothly. For a better understanding of starches, see video linked below. Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use. They now market is as Tapioca Flour instead of tapioca starch.


. forward to 2:39 for comparison of various starches. These are commercial grade starches used in the food industry, so not necessarily available to home bakers/cooks. But when choosing a starch, the application has to be matched to the characteristics of the starch.


===•••===•••===•••===
Thickening pie filling with tapioca starch.

It is a ratio of sugar and tapioca starch to the weight fruit.

Fruit filling with high water content such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries can be extremely difficult to thicken. But this formula created by pastry chef Stella Parks works like a charm. Stella Parks uses a ratio of 25% sugar and 5% tapioca starch to the weight of the fruit. I found you can go as high as 30% with the sugar. But do not exceed that amount without adjusting the tapioca starch.


  • Sugar 25% - 30% weight of fruit
  • Tapioca starch 5% weight of fruit


For example, if your fruit weighs 850 g

Sugar
850 x .25 = 212
Use 212 g sugar

Tapioca starch
850 x .05 = 42.5
Use 42.5 g tapioca starch


===•••===•••===•••===

For standard apple pie - Use a tart apple. A sweet apple simple breaks now during baking, and you are left with the huge gap in your pie. I like spices. you can adjust spices to your taste. But the sugar and tapioca starch should stay according to the apple weight ratio.

Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Toss apples, lemon juice and spices together. Cook apples until slightly tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not over cook.
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1590g (3.5 lbs) tart apple like granny smith, peeled, sliced no more than 1/2” thick.
  • 170g (3/4 cup) mix of brown and granulated sugars (12% weight of the apples)
  • 24ml (approx. 5 teaspoons) lemon juice .015%
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch fine salt

Stir in tapioca starch after apples are removed from heat.
  • 20g tapioca starch (approximately 2 Tablespoon) Bob’s Red Mill is the preferred brand. It is now labelled Tapioca Flour for some reason.

NOTE: Cool filling before filling pie shell.

Estimating apples without a scale:
  • a medium apple is about the size of a tennis ball
  • 3 medium apples is about 1 lb (454 g)

Note on cinnamon: Saigon cinnamon is prized for its robust flavor. It is the cinnamon of choice for pastry chefs. It is more expensive and is always labelled as such. But it is not what Americans normally buy in the grocery store, so may not be what you are used to in terms of cinnamon flavor. For a more subtle flavor, use Ceylon cinnamon, the cinnamon that is sold in the grocery store. Ceylon is not normally labelled as Ceylon, but simply the generic cinnamon.
 
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