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When a Recipe Says "Shaggy" Dough, Aim For This

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When a recipe instructs you to mix ingredients into a "shaggy dough," what does that look like? I don't know about you, but "shaggy" is not a stage I feel wildly confident identifying.

Thank the heavens, then, for Stella Parks, Pastry Wizard at Serious Eats (really, that is her job title!) and author of the highly-anticipated forthcoming book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. She took this direction—one that I assume many bakers puzzle over—and clarified it in one simple photo:

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Above, her version of a shaggy dough. It's lumpy yet well-mixed (no dry spots of flour); it's a cohesive ball but not a smooth one; it sort of looks like the inside of a soft pillow.

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Next time you need to make a shaggy dough—for hot water crust, pita, shortcakes, pie!—you can use this photo (and also your hands and eyes!) as a reference.

Our summer desserts thank you, Stella.

What baking or cooking directions could benefit from reference photos? Tell us in the comments below!