Pie Crust problem

Discussion in 'Disaster Help' started by Danny Lamprey, May 27, 2019.

  1. Danny Lamprey

    Danny Lamprey Member

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    Hello! Super new here and this is my first post.

    So I’ve been using Alton Brown’s pie crust recipe and have been successfully baking pie crusts with it for quite some time.

    However, recently, while blind baking all the dough is now sticking to the parchment paper and ruining everything. This has never happened and I haven’t changed anything... I mist have made a dozen of these before.

    I even tested the oven temp and while it seemed about 10 degrees off I accounted for that and still the dough sticks to the paper... I’ve probably ruined about five of these now. Any ideas or help would be appreciated!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    Danny Lamprey, May 27, 2019
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  2. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I don’t own a television so I looked up the recipe. If The recipe you’re referring to is the one on the food network site I’d say it’s not anything you’re doing wrong, rather the recipe is flawed.

    1. Butter has about 17%. He grinds the butter into the flour. It’s going to become a sticky dough because he grinds the butter into to make a paste. Butter should be flatten into flour. Link below for an easy pie crust recipe.
    2. Blind baking at high temperature for short time is incorrect way to blind bake. It should be at 350° for about 50 mins. Link below.
    3. He uses beans for weights. Beans are very heavy, so they are pressing the parchment into the flour paste. Rice or sugar is a better option for weights

    https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/06/old-fashioned-flaky-pie-dough-recipe.html

    https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/10/how-to-blind-bake-a-pie-crust.html
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 27, 2019
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  3. Danny Lamprey

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Which recipe is it? There seem to be a few from Alton. Is it the one that involves lard as well as butter?

    Whichever it is, I hear you and feel for you. Pie crust is fickle, and even if you do everything the same, it can be different pie to pie. And it's hard to figure out why. Almost anything, however small. Including the weather, can affect a pie crust. Are you at a higher or lower altitude? Is your weather more humid? Or your kitchen?

    Also, you say everything is exactly the same. I assume this means you haven't changed the flour you're using, the butter you're using, or the water (tap water is different from filtered water) or the parchment paper? The butter, especially, could give you wildly different results even if it's the same brand. Because the diet of the cows can be changed or change. Arguably, if you want a pie crust to come out as consistently as possible, you should use shortening, but that's not the most tasty crust.
    But if the recipe was flawed shouldn't the sticking have happened before now? Why now? I mean, you could be right that it's flawed and Danny just got lucky up till now....
     
    J13, May 29, 2019
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  4. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly he just got lucky up till this point. There’s a lot of things we do in correctly, and they work for a while. But when you grind butter into flour, add water, you make glue. Do you remember when we were talking about the starter in your post, and I mentioned the use of rye flour because wheat flour breaks down into a slurry in water? This is what is happening when the butter and flour is getting ground up in the food processor, and water is added. Butter also contains water. Then the piecrust is covered with parchment which prevents the from steam from escaping when iduring the bake. The dough gets sticky. The beans are heavy, pressing the parchment into the now sticky flour paste. It sticks.

    The other thing is grinding butter into flour is not pie dough.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 29, 2019
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  5. Danny Lamprey

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    "What is in a name..." :)

    Cook's Illustrated has an "all butter pie crust" that might be similar to—or go even farther than—this Alton Brown recipe (if I'm understanding your objection to it): a homogeneous paste is created in the food processor from butter and flour (and sugar and salt). This is broken up with more flour into smaller pieces. The mix is then dumped into a bowl. Frozen, grated butter is tossed in. From there it follows a typical pie crust recipe: water, bring together dough, chill, roll out. The dough has bits of butter in it like a pie dough, but also bits of this homogeneous dough.

    You set it into a pie plate, add in parchment or foil, add in weights, bake in 350° 15-20 minutes, remove, and finish baking.
    Article: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/ar...extcode=MASCD00L0&ref=new_search_experience_1
    Recipe: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/10331-foolproof-all-butter-dough-for-single-crust-pie

    Now, arguably this is half cookie/shortbread dough. That's what we usually call a flour, sugar, and butter paste (though given the small amount of sugar, these would be very bland cookies). Meanwhile, the other half of grated butter and flour is "pie dough." So, is this not pie dough because it's half "cookie dough" or is it pie dough because it's half pie dough...and being used in a pie? Pie crusts now have so many variables (lard, shortening, eggs or oil for the fat, nuts or grains as the flour, vinegar and vodka instead of just water...) It's getting harder to know what to rule in or rule out as pie dough. :D

    I have not, by the way, tried this recipe and so cannot comment on how good of a crust one gets.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    J13, May 30, 2019
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  6. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Because piecrust is traditionally made with butter, which has a low melting point, it is a bit challenging to work with. When shortening was introduced, it made it a lot easier to make piecrust. But of course shortening is not a healthy choice. It also makes very bland pie crust. So piecrust has a reputation now of being impossible to make. But just because it’s a bit challenging does not mean that it’s not doable. There’s a number of pastry chefs like Stella Parks who have created recipes that are very forgiving, yet use all butter and are made by hand.

    Edit: I went over to America’s test kitchen to look at their piecrust recipe but it wouldn’t let me look at the recipe itself due to the paywall. I know in the past their recipes have been good. They had one with vodka years ago that I used. And overall they’re pretty solid with most of their recipes. I wouldn’t hesitate to use one of ATK Recipes because they put their recipes through a lot of testing before they actually publish. Alton Brown on the other hand is a celebrity, who has assistance develop his recipes. He gets on television to film what his staff develops. Celebrity chefs don’t even write their cookbooks, they have ghost riders write them. ATK is not ghost written; they do all their work. Their people are highly trained. So I wouldn’t hesitate to use one of their recipes. Not to say anything bad about Alton Brown but he’s a celebrity. He’s about being in front of the camera And entertaining his viewers.

    I actually made pie this morning and took
    photos as I worked.

    I use baker’s percentages and make by hand


    100% unbleached flour 10.5% protein
    70% unsalted butter
    30% water
    1.5% Diamond brand salt

    Scale: 18g flour per 1” pie tin
    9” standard pie tin add 3” for sides

    12” x 2 = 24” for double crust

    24”×18 g flour = 432 so round 430g flour.

    430 g unbleached flour
    300 g unsalted
    130 mL water
    6g salt

    I pinch butter in by hand then roll over the dough to create flakes of butter in the dough
    9CEDE530-576E-4184-BE42-0BCB49A11FFD.jpeg

    Make a well and pour in all the salted water
    BC83369E-2F14-4930-96D0-63B9225A9D3C.jpeg

    Cut it in with a bench scraper with gloved hand cuz I’m OCD clean
    255C38A7-1E7B-4F02-8E59-7977359A3461.jpeg

    This method ensures flakes of butter in the dough. You can see the butter in the dough.
    8D96BBA8-9F44-4323-8B35-A3C459067574.jpeg


    That in turn made this flaky crust.
    1AA6F56E-AB83-4DA9-89FF-A74A343AF98E.jpeg
     

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    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    Norcalbaker59, May 30, 2019
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  7. Danny Lamprey

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I know all about that paywall :mad: I apologize for giving you link that won't work unless you shell out. Try this one: https://www.kcet.org/shows/americas-test-kitchen-from-cooks-illustrated/recipe-chocolate-cream-pie. I really love ATK and I'm willing to pay to see the recipes, but I don't like that you have to pay and pay (this much for ATK recipes, that much for Cooks Country, etc.).

    Their vodka pie recipe is the stuff of legend. It is as close to "foolproof" as a crust can be, but it also safe flavor-texture wise. Not the sort of crust everyone will rave about and remember in stories ("There was this crust your grandmother made....")

    That is one beautiful pie crust you created. I've never seen a crust made with the water in a well in the center and mixed in with a bench scraper. I've also never heard of salting the water rather than the flour. You should make a video of your pie-crust-creating process. I'd love to see how the dough comes together. I've tried a lot of recipes, but my dough always seems to end up looking like a map of some forgotten land riddled by earthquakes :rolleyes: I dream of the day when a dough rolls out all smooth and round like in those pie-making videos.
     
    J13, May 30, 2019
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  8. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I learned this method in Italy in 2004. I think it’s a common method in Europe. The well method is used to make pasta. Americans like convenience, so tend to use mixers and food processors. Europeans and Asians tend to do things by hand.

    Dissolving the salt in water ensures it is evenly distributed in the dough. Also salt lowers the temperature water freezes. So I put the salt in the water to buy me time. While water is chilling in the freezer, i’m getting my mat out on the counter, cubing the butter, measuring flour, pinching the batter into the flour. I don’t want that water frozen by the time I’m ready to use it. Yup, I unintentionally froze my water before. Hasn’t happened since I started dissolving the salt in the water. Oh and despite what Some say about freezing better. No, you cannot work frozen butter into flour.

    To roll out a more uniform shape dough depends on the hydration levels. But full disclosure here I do trim around the edge because I like a nice neat round circle. My dough is by no means a perfect circle.


    For some reason American pie dough recipes call for a couple tablespoons of water. That makes for a really dry dough that cracks all around the edges as you roll it. It also crumbles and tears easily. If you make the dough by hand, pinch the butter into the flour, you can add 28% to 30% hydration. Then you have a moist dough that is pretty easy to roll out. You can also pick it up pretty easily without tearing it.

    The next couple weeks I’m going to be very busy. So I’m not even going to be on this forum much starting tomorrow. But when things start to calm down I can do a tutorial for you.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 30, 2019
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  9. Danny Lamprey

    Danny Lamprey Member

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    Thanks for the replies and suggestions! For reference, I am using Alton’s recipe that requires lard. Someone had asked him in a Q&A why he used the food processor and he explained that (for him) it’s faster and is a way to keep the lard and butter from getting too warm while incorporating it.

    As far as keeping everything the same, yes. The only difference I can think of, is I have used both bleached and unbleached flour but, again, both have worked before. I am certainly going to try some of these suggestions as Alton Brown was really the only recipe I’ve tried and since it always worked, I never had a reason to stray away from it. Obviously, something needs to change.
     
    Danny Lamprey, May 30, 2019
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  10. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I would encourage you to give Stella Parks piecrust a try. It’s very forgiving. And it’s its pretty easy. Elizabeth Pruitt’s 2006 cookbook Tartine has a recipe for flaky tart crust, which is pie crust. She includes the European hand method, as well as a food processor method in her book. Since her cookbook has been around for so long someone may have posted her recipe online. If you can find it I would encourage giving that recipe a try because that’s how a crust is made in a bakery.

    I will warn you that these those are quite different from what you are used to in that they use a lot more water. I use 28% to 30% hydration. The Tartine tart dough is even higher at 32%.

    I use an unbleached flour with a 10.5% protein. Sometimes I’ll use a higher protein at about 11.5%.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 30, 2019
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  11. Danny Lamprey

    Danny Lamprey Member

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    So is there any real benefit using a lard/butter mix over just butter?
     
    Danny Lamprey, May 30, 2019
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  12. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Yes there is some benefit to lard, in that it has a higher melting point. It creates nice flakes. I wouldn’t use all large it because it doesn’t have flavor. For flavor you do need butter.


    But not all lard is created equal.


    In baking there is a specific type of lard used: leaf lard.


    Leaf lard is rendered from the “flared” fat deposits around the kidneys. This fat tissue is very deep compared to the other fat deposits under the skin. As such these fat deposits deep fat deposits don’t have as much of an odor. The lack of odor makes it ideal for baked goods.


    Given they surround internal organs, there is not much of this fat on the animal, So leaf lard is also more expensive and low in supply. You usually have to purchase it at the butcher or a charcuterie.


    Are use it occasionally. I purchase it at the Fatted Cafe Charcuterie in Napa. The high-end grocery stores in town don’t even carry it. The Fatted Calf used to sell their leaf lard online but I don’t see it now, if you’re interested maybe you could contact them to find out if they still offer it. There link is below.


    The regular lard comes from the fat right under the skin. So it has more pig odor. So this lard is usually not used for baking.

    I’ll be heading out of town shortly, so I won’t be checking my email over the next few days. But I’ll be happy to answer any more questions you have about piecrust, or any other baking questions you have when I get back.


    https://www.fattedcalf.com/products/salumi/
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 30, 2019
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  13. Danny Lamprey

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    I will eagerly try this next time I make a pie crust. I really *like* the idea of adding salt to the water rather than the flour. It makes so much sense.

    As for frozen butter...the ATK is big on freezing butter when one plans on grating it, and they seem to really like grated butter for flakey baked goods. This does make sense as you can't really grate butter that's just cold (it will turn gooey fast) *and* grated butter quickly warms up from frozen to cold, thus allowing it to be incorporated into the flour.

    I speak from experience having done this for biscuits recently. The biggest problem I had was getting all the butter grated before it went from frozen to cold. I did not completely succeed and ended up with something of a sticky mess inside the grater. Which not only was frustrating, but meant that not all the butter got into biscuits. On the plus side, the grated butter did create some of the flakiest, most layered biscuits I'd ever baked up...if a tad dry. I'm curious now to try grating the frozen butter with, yes, my food processor's grating disk. If it grates fast (while butter is still in frozen state) and more completely, then win-win. Cause grating butter by hand is tiring and messy.
    Tell me about it! But everyone says that a wet pie crust = a tough pie crust. Which is one of the reasons the vodka pie crust recipe took off. The crust gets wet enough to handle like Playdough, but half the liquid is alcohol and evaporates, presumably making sure you don't end up with a tough crust.
    I'm eager to try this as well—and I'll check out those pie crust recipes you mentioned your other post. One thing...I totally get that using percentages allows for each baker to translate your advice into whatever measures and weights they're using...but I tend to get confused and doubt myself when it comes to math (I had some really bad math teachers up through college, leading to big insecurities when it comes to working with numbers...baking has actually helped restore some confidence in my mathematical abilities).

    So, if you could add a quick, concrete example when giving percentages, however simplistic, it would help. And I'm guessing that these percentages are simplistic, with flour alway being 100%? So, for every 1 Cup flour, use ⅓ C water and/or for every 100g of flour use 30 grams water...right?

    And I would LOVE, love, love to see a tutorial on how you make pie crust!
     
    J13, Jun 2, 2019
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  14. Danny Lamprey

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I’ll definitely answer this when I get back to town. I had home tomorrow.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 6, 2019
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