So, folks, will my crust be “right”?
Posted: 30 June 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, all!

So, I made my Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust patty and yesterday, and it is currently relaxing, which is more than I can say for myself, as it fills me with angst every time I open the fridge.  This may be a new diet technique.

So, I rubbed the cream cheese in well.  I’m good on that part.

I mixed in my .5” butter cubes.  There was no way to roll these things into thin flakes.  They were hard.  So I pounded them with the rolling pin until they were flat.  Once they were all flat, I rolled them just a little (since the object had been achieved already) and popped the bag in the freezer for 10 minues.

I sprinked on the cold heavy cream and vinegar and tossed it together.  Here’s where I have real problems.  I tried kneading in the bag, and that was just ridiculous.  It was just too scattered.

So, I dumped it on the counter, donned the latex gloves, and started smooshing it together.  It couldn’t be kneaded, because it was too diverse.  I used another teaspoon of cream to see if it would make any difference.  Untimatley, by scrootching it, I got it to come together into a clump, but it has a few large faultllines.  It’s not a smooth ball by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a unit.  It took about 5 minutes.  I also pulled a section, and it does “stretch slightly.”

My patty is more like a half pound hamburger size than a large flat disk—there would have been no way for it to hold together and be that flat at the same time.

I plan to bake it tomorrow morning.  I figure I’ll pound it with the rolling pin to make it flatter before rolling.

Main question: Is this a viable crust?  It will be blind baked.

Secondary question: Why isn’t the butter softened, rolled between two pieces of waxed paper, rolled, frozen, then unrolled (pieces will break on unrolling) to have thin flakes?  Or why isn’t it sliced and frozen?  I don’t understand the purpose of these unrollable chunks. 

So, there it is.  My crust angst. 

I truly appreciate your thoughts!

Thank you!

—ak

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Posted: 30 June 2012 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My read on this process is as follows:

-Your butter should have warmed to about 65F for ideal malleability and rolling into flakes.  It starts out cold but then as it is mixed with flour and pressed into flatter shapes on the counter, the flour and counter warm it up to about the right temp.  For what it’s worth, I slice my sticks of butter into half tablespoon-size slices and toss those with the flour, then start rolling them into flakes.  I do this on the counter as I find the bag to be fairly restrictive, though my father likes the bag and uses it to make beautiful crusts, so there is more than one successful way to do it.  I make at least three and often four passes with the rolling pin, using a pancake turner to scrape up and layer the flakes on top of each other before each pass.  However you do it, The goal is to end up with butter flakes and a good deal of the flour stuck to the butter, with some loose flour. 

-I think maybe your crust would have come together better if you had spent more time rolling the butter into flakes, because as you do that more of the loose flour mixture gets stuck to the butter and you have less that needs to be bound up with the cream/vinegar.  Sounds like you may have had a lot of loose stuff left when you added the liquid.

-All that said, this crust is totally OK.  My thought would be to make two turns in the dough to increase flakiness, and just accept a little less tenderness or shrinking that may result from the extra working of the dough.  To help with that, when shaping anchor the crust onto the rim of the pie plate so that it has something to hold up the sides (and be sure not to stretch the dough anywhere).  Similarly, be sure to push weights (rice, etc.) all the way up the sides to support them during blind baking.  If you decide to take this route, warm the dough to about 65F, roll it into a rectangle, fold it into thirds like a business letter, then roll lightly and turn it 90 degrees and fold the long ends like a business letter, so that you have a square package in which all four sides have been folded to the center.  Do this in time for a long rest before final rolling and shaping, or else the dough will be hard to roll.  If you need more info, you can read some of the laminated pastry chapters (puff pastry) on doing the turns.

-Or, just decide that your crust will be somewhat flaky, but not too much and be happy with that. It will still taste amazing!  smile

-Don’t worry about the size/shape of your dough, the main thing is to bring it to 65F to facilitate rolling. 

Good luck!

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Posted: 30 June 2012 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Just wanted to add- if the dough seems dry and crumbly, like it’s going to fall apart into loose flour, along the “fault line”, you may need to add a little liquid there to make sure it holds together.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you, Julie! 

Crust #1

I took your letter-fold suggestion.  Oddly enough it was all together—I didn’t have to add any more liquid and it didn’t break on teh fault lines.  I let it warm up to 63 degrees, gave it about 5 rolls for the first rectangle, folded, gave it about two rolls, folded.  Then I rolled it about 3 times to make it 1/2 in thick for easier rolling tomorrow, but I"m thinking maybe that defeated the purpose.  Anyway, hope not, and I didn’t think of it until afterwards.  It was a teeny bit sticky, so iit might have begun to soften, even though it all took less than 5 minutes (except bringing it to temp, which took about an hour.)  Do you think, given the signs, that it might have been “normal,” after all, had I done nothing?

Crust #2

I made another one to see if I could “get it right” from the top.  I’m not sure again if I did it right, although I did it differently.  I cut the butter into 1/2 tablespoons and this time I did as follows:

Step 1:  Cream cheese—went fine.

Step 2:  Added butter slices and rolled it until most of the flour was absorbed.  Doing this resulted in thicker slabs (because it collected a bit on teh rollling pin), thin flakes and some smaller shards, but little to no loose flour.  The thing I’m unsure of is, at this step, how much it should be worked and what appearance I am trying to achieve.

Step 3:  This time, because so much more flour was absorbed into the butter, it came together very quickly.  I kneaded just until I could stretch a little of it and feel that it stretched, rather than broke.  This was very easy to press into a disk, so I have a nice disk about 6” by 1/2 inch thick.

Is this the right way to do it, or is my Step 2 (or even step 3) off?

I have enough cream cheese and heavy cream left to try one more!!!!

Thank you so much!

—ak

p.s.  This is so tasty, I don’t see much point in cooking it.  It should just be sliced and served!

pps.  Making pie crust is REALLY FUN!  I can’t wait until I know how to do it right!

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Posted: 01 July 2012 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Anne in NC - 30 June 2012 10:21 PM

Crust #1
Do you think, given the signs, that it might have been “normal,” after all, had I done nothing?

Yup.  It will shrink a bit from the extra working of the dough, but will be extra flaky.  It will also be a tad tougher, but if you used Wondra or pastry flour or the cake/ap blend, it won’t be too noticeable.

Crust #2
Step 2:  Doing this resulted in thicker slabs (because it collected a bit on teh rollling pin)

Forgot to mention, if not using the bag it can be helpful to roll between sheets of plastic wrap-some butter will stick to the plastic, and if it looks like it will come off easily without breaking the flake I’ll nudge it off, but otherwise I just leave it stuck to the plastic, because I know it will stick to the dough once the liquid is added.  I used to roll without the plastic, and some flakes stuck to the pin, I just scraped them off occasionally and re-floured the pin.

Step 3:  This time, because so much more flour was absorbed into the butter, it came together very quickly.  I kneaded just until I could stretch a little of it and feel that it stretched, rather than broke.  This was very easy to press into a disk, so I have a nice disk about 6” by 1/2 inch thick.

Congratulations! Sounds very good!

I have enough cream cheese and heavy cream left to try one more!!!!

If you wrap the disc in plastic wrap and then foil, it freezes perfectly for months.  It then becomes a very quick and serendipitous thing to make a pie- if you see some beautiful seasonal fruit while shopping, buy 1.5-2 pounds, come home, let the crust thaw while you wash and cut the fruit, then whip up a pie.  I have been known to go the grocery to get a few things for dinner and come home with the makings of a pie instead.  Not much cooking gets done for dinner but then we have pie for dessert smile

pps.  Making pie crust is REALLY FUN!  I can’t wait until I know how to do it right!

Sounds like you are already doing it right!  If you like making flaky crusts, consider a foray into puff pastry, it’s similar, but less tender and more flaky.  And it’s kind of fun to see how wildly it puffs!

If you ever decide you need something foolproof or fast, you can always make it in the food processor.  I don’t do it very often, but I must admit the crust is nearly identical to the hand version, just a little less flaky if I compare it to one of my better results with the hand method.

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Posted: 01 July 2012 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks so much, Julie!

Is it possible to overwork at Step 2—where you roll the butter into thin flakes with the flour?  Or can you only overwork at the adding liquid stage?

I don’t have a food processor, so I’m all by hand!

I’ve got Crust 1 in the pie plate chilling—I found it hard to roll between plastic wrap, with its fussiness for repositioning and sticking and sticking to itself, etc—so next time, I’m going to try parchment.  It took a long time, and I had to put it in the freezer a couple of times to keep it cold.  I hope I didn’t overwork it, but I might have.  I didn’t do any extra flouring at all—should I have?  Is the amount of flour used in a crust calculated such that it expects you WILL use a certain quantity of extra flour in rolling?

Crust #1 is in the freezer!

I want to make #3 this afternoon—my big question is if it is possible to overwork at the 2nd stage—where you’re rolling the butter into thin flakes with the flour.  Are you trying to incorporate almost all/all of the flour into the butter? 

Thank you again!

—ak

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Posted: 01 July 2012 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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One other little question—do you let the crust cool completely before moisture-proofing it with white chocolate?

Thanks!!!!!  (For everything!)

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