Many swear by their technique and ingredients. Some use all butter, others butter and shortening. Some combine all-purpose flour and pastry flour while others use entirely one or the other.
Then th-ere’s the debate on liquid. Cold water, room temperature water, some even add vo-dka to make the crust tender and easier to roll. Claims have been made that when adding vodka as half of your liquid, you will need less flour when rolling and it evaporates during baking leaving a moist, tender and supple crust.
In “The Joy of Cooking” Irma Rombauer has eight recipes for pie dough but prefaces the recipes with a specific set of rules which no matter what recipe you choose serve as useful advice.
Handle your dough lightly to incorporate as much as air as possible and to inhibit the development of gluten. Result — flaky and tender crust.
Avoid too much flour as it toughens the dough.
Avoid too much liquid as it makes the dough soggy.
Avoid too much shortening as it makes dough greasy and crumbly.
Chilling pastry dough after mixing tenderizes it, keeps it from shrinking during baking and makes it easier to handle.
Twelve hours of refrigeration, covered in plastic wrap is recommended. When ready to roll out, remove the dough from the refrigerator for one hour before shaping so that you avoid over-handling when it is still too cold. Roll as lightly as possible.
Start baking in a very hot oven preheated to the temperature indicated. The contrast between the coolness of the dough and the heat of the oven cause rapid air expansion and contributes to the lightness of the texture.
I think I have to lean towards the majority on this. For best results, keep everything cold — from beginning to end. When butter warms, even slightly there is separation between the fat and the small amount of water it contains. It begins to warm the flour and affect the gluten production in the dough.
Pie dough is a short pastry and called such because adding the fat to the dough shortens the strands of gluten that develop in the flour. It keeps the dough from having a chewy, thick texture and allows the dough to become light, flaky and tender.
Whatever your secret, or combination of ingredients, even if it’s refrigerator dough rolled out and dressed up with a glaze and called your own, it’s the time of year when pie dough is on our mind.
Whether it’s filled with pumpkin, pecan, apple, lemon or chocolate — it’s almost the holidays and the season for pie.
When I’m in a hurry I will sometimes buy refrigerator dough and roll it out. But after researching and working on this week’s feature about dough I don’t think I will be doing that anymore.
If you have a food processor and follow the Julia Child pie dough recipe, you can make better tasting dough for less money and very little time. In less than five minutes you can measure out your ingredients, blend, form, wrap and refrigerate. It takes very little effort.
Admittedly, I am one of those people who finds dough-making and baking a daunting task. Generally I hate to measure and any time flour is part of a recipe I tend to get it everywhere. I also tend to stray from recipes and take the dish in a different direction. In baking that can be disastrous.
After all, it was Julia Child who said, “Of course you can buy a ready-made pie shell, but it’s a shame not to have the know-how yourself.”
If her recipe wasn’t so easy I might not agree, but once again Mrs. Child gives the best advice and always shares here secrets — especially when it comes to making dough.
Christine Gardner can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or writing to 410 W. Erwin, Tyler, TX 75702. She can also be found on Facebook at Christine Gardner Tyler Paper Food and on Twitter and Pinterest @TylerFlavor.