Let's Talk Pie Crust: Rolling out, Blind Baking, etc. Your Method?


Cahoot

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@Cahoot, that’s a beautiful blueberry pie! And isn’t Stella Park’s tapioca thickening by weight just genius? It is absolutely full proof.

trust me, once you make this crust a few times you’ll have it down. I make it so often that I don’t even pull up my ratios on my iPad anymore.

To get a little better texture on your bottom crust, chill the crust after you roll it out or after you set it into the pie tin. You can either put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes or put it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

but the crust really looks amazing so you’re definitely well on your way to mastering piecrust.
Thank you, your help and the video you linked was invaluable! I also love the simplicity of Stella's pie thickening ratios, with it throwing out the guess work behind how much thickener is needed. Since you seem experienced with it, have you had success using it for other fruits? I know she has blueberry and cherry pie published, but doesn't recommend it for fruits like peaches, raspberries, etc. since they're thinner-skinned and will lose more structure (but she has recipes for some other fruits in alternative formats, such as galette or crumble). However, I don't mind a bit mushier filling, and I'm also a bit OCD about this and would love the idea of a "master recipe" that I could use for all fruits.
 
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Norcalbaker59

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Thank you, your help and the video you linked was invaluable! I also love the simplicity of Stella's pie thickening ratios, with it throwing out the guess work behind how much thickener is needed. Since you seem experienced with it, have you had success using it for other fruits? I know she has blueberry and cherry pie published, but doesn't recommend it for fruits like peaches, raspberries, etc. since they're thinner-skinned and will lose more structure (but she has recipes for some other fruits in alternative formats, such as galette or crumble). However, I don't mind a bit mushier filling, and I'm also a bit OCD about this and would love the idea of a "master recipe" that I could use for all fruits.
Last year I made quite a few peach pies. Peaches actually have quite a bit of pectin in them. I tried whole tapioca pearls as well as tapioca flour. Both worked. But the pearls work best if your peaches are really juicy because it requires that moisture to fully dissolved.



I also very the sugar depending on how ripe sweet the peaches.



I can’t speak to raspberries because I’ve never made raspberry pie. I’ve only used them fresh on a tart.



The ratios for thickening range:

  • Fruit 1.00 (100%)
  • Sugar .12 - .30 (12% - 30%)
  • Tapioca starch .055 - .013 (5.5% - 1.3%)

  • Apples 100%
  • Sugar 12%
  • Tapioca starch 1.3%

  • Blueberries 100%
  • Sugar 25%
  • Tapioca starch 5.5%

  • Peaches 100%
  • Sugar 12% - 15%
  • Tapioca starch 4%
granulated and brown cane sugars
1/4 tsp Saigon cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg


  • Trader Joe’ Dark Morello Sour Cherries 100%
  • Sugar 30%
  • Tapioca starch 5.5%

It’s important to drain cherries extremely well
 

Cahoot

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I realize I've been talking a lot about pies recently, but there's another question that I've been thinking about. Outside of the extra time commitment, is there ever any disadvantage to prebaking a pie crust for a single-crust pie, provided you ensure that the edges don't burn? I've seen people say that the filling protects the bottom crust from overcooking, so there wouldn't be any risk of it being overbaked. In that case I guess the only downside might be that the blind bake may not always be necessary for less runny fillings.

I'm also reading a couple pastry textbooks and they usually specifically note that mealy pie dough, often unbaked, is used for baked custard pies. I found this an interesting contrast to the usual pie recipes in cookbooks or online, where people only ever talk about flaky pie dough, not mealy. Is the reason for using mealy pie dough and not blind baking it due to time constraints in commercial food operations (and hence not necessarily applicable for a home setting)?
 

Norcalbaker59

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I realize I've been talking a lot about pies recently, but there's another question that I've been thinking about. Outside of the extra time commitment, is there ever any disadvantage to prebaking a pie crust for a single-crust pie, provided you ensure that the edges don't burn? I've seen people say that the filling protects the bottom crust from overcooking, so there wouldn't be any risk of it being overbaked. In that case I guess the only downside might be that the blind bake may not always be necessary for less runny fillings.

I'm also reading a couple pastry textbooks and they usually specifically note that mealy pie dough, often unbaked, is used for baked custard pies. I found this an interesting contrast to the usual pie recipes in cookbooks or online, where people only ever talk about flaky pie dough, not mealy. Is the reason for using mealy pie dough and not blind baking it due to time constraints in commercial food operations (and hence not necessarily applicable for a home setting)?
Absolutely blind bake your single piecrust. And do not bake at high temperature. Stella Parks wrote an article on blind baking at 350°F temperature. And she’s correct this is a far better way.



I freeze my piecrust for about 15 minutes so I do not damage it. I gently crumple a piece of regular aluminum foil, then open it up. I form it to the inside of the crust taking care to get it in the edges. I’ve been lifted out to make sure it does not stick to the crust before I set it back down.



I use rice as the pie weights. I don’t like to use beans or ceramic pie weights as they’re too heavy. Stella Parks uses sugar since you can use toasted sugar for other things.



I bake my crust to a light golden brown. Stella Parks over bakes hers IMO. but to each their own.



You can also blind bake double crust. And in fact it’s recommended by many bakers. Erin McDowell has a good technique for blind baking double crust. See link below. I also think McDowell over bakes hers but again to each their own.



Most so-called ”textbooks” are riddled will errors.



The one book that is well regarded and is in fact used by many professional pastry chefs is Advanced Bread and Pastry A Professional Approach by Michel Suas. This is my baking bible. There’s some things in this book that is strictly commercial, ingredients in the equipment that you’re not going to use in the home setting. B the science and technique is rock solid.




Suas actually founded and continues to run The San Francisco Baking Institute. Aside from training thousands of bakers, and some of the award winning bakers in the world Suas is also a consultant. Every baker who is anyone in the US has turned to Suas for assistance including Thomas Keller of Bouchon Bakery; Chad Robertson of Tartine; Steve Sullivan of Acme; Nancy Silverton of La Brea. Suas’ client list reads like the Who’s Who of bakers in the world.

A few months ago I was in a class conducted by a master baker. This baker won the gold at Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. One of the participants asked for recommendation on baking books. He said the only baking book he would recommend is Suas’ book.

Suas is business partners with Belinda Leong in b. patisserie. Their bakery won the James Beard award in 2018 for Outstanding Baker. So his work translates into the real world.

https://food52.com/blog/18422-par-bake-your-double-crust-pies-join-the-anti-soggy-crust-crusade
 

Cahoot

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Absolutely blind bake your single piecrust. And do not bake at high temperature. Stella Parks wrote an article on blind baking at 350°F temperature. And she’s correct this is a far better way.



I freeze my piecrust for about 15 minutes so I do not damage it. I gently crumple a piece of regular aluminum foil, then open it up. I form it to the inside of the crust taking care to get it in the edges. I’ve been lifted out to make sure it does not stick to the crust before I set it back down.



I use rice as the pie weights. I don’t like to use beans or ceramic pie weights as they’re too heavy. Stella Parks uses sugar since you can use toasted sugar for other things.



I bake my crust to a light golden brown. Stella Parks over bakes hers IMO. but to each their own.



You can also blind bake double crust. And in fact it’s recommended by many bakers. Erin McDowell has a good technique for blind baking double crust. See link below. I also think McDowell over bakes hers but again to each their own.



Most so-called ”textbooks” are riddled will errors.



The one book that is well regarded and is in fact used by many professional pastry chefs is Advanced Bread and Pastry A Professional Approach by Michel Suas. This is my baking bible. There’s some things in this book that is strictly commercial, ingredients in the equipment that you’re not going to use in the home setting. B the science and technique is rock solid.




Suas actually founded and continues to run The San Francisco Baking Institute. Aside from training thousands of bakers, and some of the award winning bakers in the world Suas is also a consultant. Every baker who is anyone in the US has turned to Suas for assistance including Thomas Keller of Bouchon Bakery; Chad Robertson of Tartine; Steve Sullivan of Acme; Nancy Silverton of La Brea. Suas’ client list reads like the Who’s Who of bakers in the world.

A few months ago I was in a class conducted by a master baker. This baker won the gold at Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. One of the participants asked for recommendation on baking books. He said the only baking book he would recommend is Suas’ book.

Suas is business partners with Belinda Leong in b. patisserie. Their bakery won the James Beard award in 2018 for Outstanding Baker. So his work translates into the real world.

https://food52.com/blog/18422-par-bake-your-double-crust-pies-join-the-anti-soggy-crust-crusade
That's an interesting technique for blind baking a double-crusted pie! I've also seen that Shirley Corriher apparently has a recipe in CookWise for an apple pie where the bottom crust, filling, and top crust are all cooked separately and assembled after, but it seems to be pretty niche technique since the top crust still wouldn't be attached.

Advanced Bread and Pastry was actually conveniently next on my list. I already read Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen and am currently reading through The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg, since I've had those recommended for being good overviews and introductions to techniques. I've also seen other people also comment on that some of the recipes in Advanced Bread and Pastry aren't feasible for a home cook, but that's the extent of the critique I've heard, while I know multiple people have had problems with some recipes in Gisslen's and Friberg's books.
 

Norcalbaker59

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That's an interesting technique for blind baking a double-crusted pie! I've also seen that Shirley Corriher apparently has a recipe in CookWise for an apple pie where the bottom crust, filling, and top crust are all cooked separately and assembled after, but it seems to be pretty niche technique since the top crust still wouldn't be attached.

Advanced Bread and Pastry was actually conveniently next on my list. I already read Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen and am currently reading through The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg, since I've had those recommended for being good overviews and introductions to techniques. I've also seen other people also comment on that some of the recipes in Advanced Bread and Pastry aren't feasible for a home cook, but that's the extent of the critique I've heard, while I know multiple people have had problems with some recipes in Gisslen's and Friberg's books.
Shirley is an incredible food scientist. One of the best. But as a baker well let me just say I love her for her science not her baking techniques or formula.

I really can’t comment on Gisslen's and Friberg’s books because I haven’t read them. I’ve read the reviews on them and I know that even in culinary programs they have had issues with them.

Suas’ book is definitely 100% textbook. It is not written for the home baker. It’s written to train professionals, in a professional kitchen.

I live in the Napa Valley not too far from CIA. I’ve taken classes at CIA and have not been all that impressed.

I prefer the classes at Keith Giusto’s Artisan Baking Center. Some of the best bakers in the country teach there. They also get guest bakers from around the world to come in This year I hope to take classes at Suas’ SFBI because they offer 5 day intensives, something the Artisan Baking Center does not.
 
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Cahoot

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Shirley is an incredible food scientist. One of the best. But as a baker well let me just say I love her for her science not her baking techniques or formula.

I really can’t comment on Gisslen's and Friberg’s books because I haven’t read them. I’ve read the reviews on them and I know that even in culinary programs they have had issues with them.

Suas’ book is definitely 100% textbook. It is not written for the home baker. It’s written to train professionals, in a professional kitchen.

I live in the Napa Valley not too far from CIA. I’ve taken classes at CIA and have not been all that impressed.

I prefer the classes at Keith Giusto’s Artisan Baking Center. Some of the best bakers in the country teach there. They also get guest bakers from around the world to come in This year I hope to take classes at Suas’ SFBI because they offer 5 day intensives, something the Artisan Baking Center does not.
I got impatient and since I already have a copy of the Suas book, I gave it a quick viewing, skipping straight to the Pastry Dough chapter since that's what I'm currently working on. Let me just say, wow! The chapter had more in-depth information about the basic tart doughs than in the other two books combined. While the other books just gave an overview of the formulation and purposes of the basic doughs, Suas goes into much more detail, like how egg yolks/whites affect the dough, why cooked yolks are sometimes used (I've seen it in some linzer dough/batter recipes, but never actually knew why), the difference between using powdered/granulated sugar, and even the difference between pâte à foncer and pâte brisée (because I'm super pedantic and have tried googling that question before, but couldn't find anything definitive).

I now know why the pâte brisée I made before shrunk heavily after baking - it must've been from me overworking the butter in, which meant I used less water, causing the dough to not be strong enough. That was a question that I had for quite a bit, since I always associated shrinking = too much gluten, but I made two tarts with that batch of dough, and both of them shrunk a lot in height, but they were still surprisingly tender and not tough as I expected.

I won't say I'm not envious that you live so close to all those baking classes and institutions! It's no wonder you know so much. What do they teach in the advanced classes? I wonder what the higher-level stuff is that would be new even for someone like you. Unfortunately as a beginner, I've still got this 1000-page tome to finish if I want to get just the fundamentals right.
 
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Norcalbaker59

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I got impatient and since I already have a copy of the Suas book, I gave it a quick viewing, skipping straight to the Pastry Dough chapter since that's what I'm currently working on. Let me just say, wow! The chapter had more in-depth information about the basic tart doughs than in the other two books combined. While the other books just gave an overview of the formulation and purposes of the basic doughs, Suas goes into much more detail, like how egg yolks/whites affect the dough, why cooked yolks are sometimes used (I've seen it in some linzer dough/batter recipes, but never actually knew why), the difference between using powdered/granulated sugar, and even the difference between pâte à foncer and pâte brisée (because I'm super pedantic and have tried googling that question before, but couldn't find anything definitive).

I now know why the pâte brisée I made before shrunk heavily after baking - it must've been from me overworking the butter in, which meant I used less water, causing the dough to not be strong enough. That was a question that I had for quite a bit, since I always associated shrinking = too much gluten, but I made two tarts with that batch of dough, and both of them shrunk a lot in height, but they were still surprisingly tender and not tough as I expected.

I won't say I'm not envious that you live so close to all those baking classes and institutions! It's no wonder you know so much. What do they teach in the advanced classes? I wonder what the higher-level stuff is that would be new even for someone like you. Unfortunately as a beginner, I've still got this 1000-page tome to finish if I want to get just the fundamentals right.
Hahaha! You understand now why I say his book is my baking bible!!! And not just for me but for some of the greatest bakers in this country. This is why bakers travel from all over the world to go to SFBI. Suas is a master baker. He’s been baking since he was 14 years old. he is the only master baker to write a comprehensive textbook.

Even if you can’t use all of the formulas, that book is invaluable because of the baking science.

I’m fortunate that I live close to Petaluma. That’s where Keith Giusto Bakery Supply is headquartered. Which is the distribution arm of Central Milling Flour. Which is the flour supplier for SFBI and most of the best bakeries in the country. They repackage most of their flours into small 5 lb bags for retail sale to home bakers. You can buy it online as well but the shipping is a bit expensive.

Whole Foods All Purpose organic 365 is their Beehive flour. As is Safeway’s O All Purpose Organic.

The Central Millings Beehive is the flour I use for my pie crusts, tarts, etc. Its organic hard red winter blend, unbleached 10% - 10.5% protein with 57% ash and malted. It really makes a nice crust. So if you have a Whole Foods anywhere, try their 375 Organic all purpose flour because it’s Central Milling’s Beehive flour.
 

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