Solving Pie Pastry Problems
Does your pie pastry crumble? Is your pie pastry tough? Does your pastry crack and fall apart? Does your pie have a soggy bottom? There are any numbers of reasons for failures either during preparation or when the pie is finished.
Here are a few simple techniques that may solve your problems. First, a number of factors on any given day may affect your pastry results.
- The weather_is_very warm temperatures and higher humidity will affect your ingredients, particularly the shortening.
- The amount of heat in the kitchen__if you have been doing a lot of cooking and/or the oven has been on for a long time, both can warm ingredients. Chilling everything first may help alleviate this situation.
Second, pie making equipment is important.
• Rolling pins come in many shapes and materials. Choose a medium weight in a standard size. I prefer wood with ball bearings that make rolling very easy.
• A pastry cloth and stocking sleeve for the rolling pin help keep dough from sticking. I have one with a frame for holding things steady. When I buy a new cloth, I sew a cotton casing sleeve on each end so I can slide the frame rods through it. If you do not have a pastry cloth, use a cutting (dough) board or mat but use as little flour as is necessary to prevent stickiness so you do not make the dough tough.
• A pastry blender is very good for blending the flour and shortening. You can use two knives but they are trickier to maneuver to get the mix blended properly. I have friends who think a food processor also gives good results although I do not use one.
• Mixing bowls are available in many styles. Any material should be fine but choose a medium size with a wider opening. Too narrow and deep makes it difficult to use a pastry blender.
• A pie plate can be made from a variety of materials. I prefer pyrex or corning ware, but metal ones are available. A dull pan absorbs heat better than a shiny one and bakes better in the lower half of your oven. If you choose a shiny, disposable aluminum pan for your pie, be sure you bake it on a cookie sheet to help cook the bottom pastry.
Third, the ingredients you choose may affect the end results.
• Flour types and brands have nuances in processing that affect how they react in a pastry recipe. All-purpose Louis a good place to start. Experiment with several brands to find the one you feel gives you the best results. For more information please visit best cookware reviews .
• Shortening is a key to good flaky pastry. Some cooks prefer to use part butter which needs to be cold and cut in small chunks before being blended into the flour. Brands for both may vary so experiment here, too. Shortening can be room temperature or chilled to achieve flakiness. Cut the first half of the shortening into the flour/salt mixture with the pastry blender until it resembles cornmeal. Cut in the second half until much of it resembles large peas. Do not overmix but do not leave globs of shortening!
• Water must be ice cold. Use plenty of ice cubes. Add 2 tablespoons of water at a time and toss lightly with a fork. Do not over mix. Add only enough water to make the dough slightly moist so it holds together, but not too wet. Too much water makes pastry tough and likely to split apart as you work with it. Too little moisture and dough will not hold together in a ball.
If you want to improve your pie pastry, it is a process of trial and error for a while. Begin by choosing the best equipment and ingredients. Dont give up. Practice does make perfect! I know because I made 2 cherry pies a day, six days a week for 3 months. The effort paid off when I became the National Cherry Pie Baking Champion. So, your goal is light, flaky, tasty pastry, and a pie that gets rave reviews from family and friends.
While youre working on perfecting your pie pastry, let the rest of your cooking sizzle!
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