Trying to conquer my fear of pie crust and having some trouble. Whenever I try to roll or shape the dough, it breaks or crumbles. Any ideas of what I'm doing wrong or helpful hints?
I have a feeling that in an effort not to add too much water (and thereby toughen it by over-activating the gluten), you're probably not adding enough. And are you using ice water decanted from a pitcher of, well, ice water into your measuring cup? Try adding even a couple of tablespoons more water and see how that does.
And are you mixing it by hand or with a stand mixer? If the latter, you want to add water and mix on low speed just until you can't see any unhydrated flour in the bottom of the bowl.
AND, after you've finished mixing it, pull it out onto your floured board and gently but quickly, using your palms, round it up, then shape into a disk about 1" thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This lets the gluten relax so that your dough will be easier to roll out, and your crust more tender.
Let us know if this helps!
Sounds like you're trying to roll the crust too soon after taking out the fridge?
Let it warm up before you tackle rolling, smooth results will follow. I find this is especially important if my pastry fat is butter. Lard and vegetable shortening both roll more smoothly at colder temperatures.
My BIGGEST tip for pastry is cold fat, cold water and letting the dough have a 'cold' rest at all stages. Don't forget, after you roll and shape the bottom crust put it back in the fridge or freezer for another good chill before filling.
This might help? http://www.food52.com/blog... also, I agree about ice cold water and always keeping the dough cool (in the summer you might roll it to a slab, chill it a little, then roll some more). But I think a foolproof helper is rolling between waxed paper. If a dough is very sticky you can sprinkle the wax paper with a tiny bit of flour; also, as you roll, reposition the paper if it wrinkles by lifting it off and pacing again. Flip and reposition paper on other side if need be. Pop the slab (between the paper) into the freezer if it gets too pliable. I always use all-purpose UNBLEACHED flour which has a little more tooth to it; bleached AP flour might get a little too sticky, not sure.
thanks for all your help! my attempt today was much more successful than previous trials. still a bit of breaking at the edges when i was rolling out the dough, but i was able to stick them together and it baked up just fine. thanks!
Great to hear!
Cooks Illustrated has published a pie crust that uses a bit of vodka to provide elasticity. It works well.