at Sat, 20 Nov 2004 05:14:37 GMT in ,
What was your recipe and how did it go awry? This may help us better
identify what you needed to do.
Using pastry flour in a pie crust requires at most only minor adjustments,
not major modifications. The basic principles are still the same:
Cut in the fat only long enough to get a coarse mix reminiscent of clumpy
Use as little water as you can get away with and still have the crust hold
Work the dough as little as possible.
Keep everything well-chilled.
I have 2 basic crusts I make using pastry flour. One uses half lard, half
butter in a ratio of 4:5 fat:flour by weight (which is 2:5 by volume). For
5 cups of flour, you then use 1 cup butter, 1 cup lard. The other is all
butter, in a ratio of 1:1 fat:flour (1:2 by volume). I also add a pinch of
salt, pretty standard routine.
I cut the fats in using 2 knives (which I find makes for slightly better
results than a pastry cutter), then sprinkle just enough water to get the
whole mass to bind together. It's usually not very much. For 5 cups flour,
I generally measure 6 oz to use, add about 2/3 of this, then add some or
all of the rest as needed to keep the thing together. Pastry flour does
generally absorb less water than A/P.
When rolling, you want to be a little more gentle than with A/P. Pastry-
flour crust has more of a tendency to crack and break if you're too
vigorous with the rolling. I use only the weight of the pin to roll it out
and don't exert any force on it whatsoever.
Don't try to make puff pastry, though, with pastry flour. It doesn't really
have enough gluten to stretch into the thin sheets puff pastry creates.
All-purpose is a better bet in this case. So if your pie was using puff
pastry, this may have been the source of grief. Also, just to make sure, it
wasn't cake flour you were using? That's also unsuitable for pie crusts of
any type. Finally, was your pastry flour white or whole-wheat? If you were
using your method for white AP flour with whole wheat pastry flour, this
could also have created difficulties. Whole wheat pastry flour also doesn't
hold together as readily and absorbs more water. Generally if I were making
a pie crust with whole wheat flour I'd up the fat and water, and lower the
amount of flour. However, I lean away from whole-wheat flours for pie crust
because the coarseness of whole wheat flour IMHO interferes with the flaky
sensation of a good pie crust, which is its raison d'etre.
My recipe is 2 1/2 cps flour, 1/2 cp shortening, 1/2 cp butter, salt,
water. I used whole wheat pastry flour because that was all I could
find. I pulsed the shortening and flour together in a food processor,
and then added the butter and within seconds the whole mass came
together like a lump of putty. This has never happened before. As the
dough was holding together just fine, I rolled it out without adding any
water and blind baked it. It looked okay coming out of the oven but with
the slightest touch, the crust reverted back to it's flour state. I had
a pie plate full of dust.
Thanks for all your comments so far.
That looks pretty much like the recipe that I use except that I would use
more butter and less shortening. Sometimes I wonder if people don't just
make an unconscious measuring error when things go very bad. You do need
some water to get gluten. While a lot of gluten formation is bad in pastry,
you need some for structure.
Instead of pastry flour, I use a combination of AP and cake flour. I use
1.5 cups of AP and 0.5 cups of cake flour with 0.75 cups of butter and 0.25
cups of shortening. I put the flour, salt, sugar (if used) in the bowl of
the food processor and pulse to mix. Then I add very cold or frozen butter
that has been cut into small cubes. I pulse that about five times. Then I
add the shortening and pulse once or twice. Then I add a small amount of
water and pulse a couple of times and check the results. If it is too dry I
add a little more ice water. Sometimes I also add an egg yolk with the
initial dose of water.
It is very important that the fat is very cold or it will just coat the
flour instead of being cut into the flour. Once the flour is coated, then
the game is over. You will get a greasy paste that is unable to absorbed
water. You won't get any structure and the crust will not be flaky. I think
it is best to add the very cold butter first and then add the shortening.
The shortening, even when very cold, will remain soft and there is a danger
of over-mixing if added too soon. For best results, you can put the flour
into the FP bowl and chill that in the freeze along with the fat. Always
use ice water. A trick that I use is to put the ice and water into a gravy
separator. Since the ice floats )like fat) you can safely pour the water
out the spout without risking getting chunks of ice in your pastry.
at Sat, 20 Nov 2004 13:36:40 GMT in ,
Shortening can be more problematic than lard, because it's a softer fat and
generally has emulsifiers in it. Sometimes this can have an effect on
pastry dough because it will cut in too evenly. However, in and of itself,
that wouldn't necessarily cause a problem. I'd still recommend that if you
can't get fresh lard where you are, then it's perhaps better to use all
I was suspicious that might be the case. Lately for whatever reason finding
white pastry flour has become increasingly difficult, which baffles me
because whole wheat defeats the very purpose of pastry flour: to create
something light and delicate, just the opposite of whole wheat's rustic,
coarser nature. If they were to eliminate one of the 2, I'd think it'd be
whole wheat. It pays to seek out white pastry flour because the difference
is large. If you can't get it, I recommend sticking with white all-purpose
because once you start using whole wheat flours, you're entering a totally
different ballgame. Whole wheat flours absorb a LOT more water and much
more quickly cut through the fat, because the flakes of bran act a bit like
sandpaper, quickly breaking up the fat. Thus for whole wheat, if you're
going to do that (although as I stated before I prefer not to do any pie
crusts with whole wheat) it is *imperative* that your fats be as cold as
possible, and hard. In that situation, shortening will almost certainly
give problems because the softness of shortening is a very attactive medium
to smear on the flakes of bran.
Using a food processor with whole wheat flour probably only exaggerated the
problem, because a food processor, no matter how quickly you pulse, handles
dough pretty aggressively, and this is a point where especially with whole
wheat flour you want to be very gentle. Hand cutting the fats using 2
knives might work better. And I'd certainly have used lard or butter only
with whole wheat. Butter, when well chilled, is considerably harder than
lard so I'd use all butter, in fact. When at the point of cutting in the
fat it turned into a lump of putty that should have been your cue that
everything was already ruined. Once it looks that homogeneous, the fat has
spread throughout the flour and the pie crust will never turn out OK. I'd
have thrown it away at this point.
Without any water, there's nothing to let the flour develop some structure,
and it would just fall apart when baking. You would need some water in any
I think the critical factor, once again, was using whole wheat flour. It's
not using pastry flour that had a big impact, it was using whole wheat
flour of *any* type, and this is where you *do* need a different recipe
because whole wheat flour is a totally different animal. Once you'd made
the choice to use whole wheat flour, then your standard recipe and method
worked against you, making the situation much worse in a hurry.
Which direction do you want to head - to using whole wheat flour or to
finding and using white pastry flour?
Funny, when things start to go bad they just get worse. It seems this
batch of pie dough was doomed from the start. I had been using lard and
had run out when I started this batch. The shortening vs lard makes a
lot of sense to me as does cutting in the butter first as Vox has
suggested. My pie crusts, generally are pretty good, but I've learned
more about pie crust in the past week than I have in the past 20 years.
I appreciate all the helpful advice and if I ever try the pastry flour
again, I'll hold out for the white.
A. L. Shaw wrote in
Do you mean, like in an apple pie where a gap is left between the top crust
and fruit? That's caused by the cooked fruit settling.
I find this happens less if the apples are sliced smaller and thinner and
arranged rather compactly in the pie shell before covering with pastry.
There will be less settling. It should apply to most other fruits as well.
As was mentioned, the gap forms when the fruit cooks and settles. IF the
crust has set, it remains where it was when the pie was assembled, leaving a
space. The only sure way of preventing this is to cook the filling first.
This is especially helpful with apple pie.