Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pie dough can be a bully and burnt beans stink

Don't let the above picture fool you. The pie gods were not being nice to me on this day.

When a recipe gives me grief I can't help, but keep trying until I get it right. I decided to be brave and try to make pie dough again. I thought I would have better luck if I used a different recipe. I choose to use the one that came with my food processor as I had heard it is a foolproof recipe.

Foolproof you say-well we'll just see about that.

Everything was chilled and ready to go. I mixed the flour with the salt and baking soda and then added the butter and shortening.

I even bought some peas so I would know how small my butter had to be.

Now the part I hate -adding the water. If this was a horror film,then this is when you would hear the scary music they play right before something bad is going to happen. Dun Dun Dun...

I added 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulsed 5 maybe 6 times. The mixture did hold together when I pressed it together just like the recipe said it would. Okay I just needed to add some more water and it should be able to be formed into a ball. After a few more teaspoons of water it looked like it was ready.

I dump it out onto the counter even though I had a gut feeling it needed more water, but I went ahead and formed it into a ball-

a dry crumbly ball.

It was hard to form into a ball and I felt it didn't have enough water. I knew if it didn't have it would crumble when I went to roll it out. So I dumped it back into the bowl and added more water. At this point I'm not feeling too good about this dough. I probably over mixed by now and even after adding more water it still looked too darn dry.

My only option was to form it into a ball and see if a miracle would happen after it had chilled in the refrigerator.

Guess what? No miracle here. The pastry gods did not bless the dough. In fact I think it might have been cursed.

Ugh. Why can't pie dough play fair and just behave?

I needed help. All I needed was someone to show me how wet the mixture needed to be. I went searching on line since I don't know any good pie makers living by me. My mom, who could help me, lives 2 hours away. But I found a video. Yes, finally a visual-just what I needed and my favorite part of the recipe, an exact measurement of water. None of these 2-4 tablespoons of water crap for me no way, just give me a precise number. It will make my life so much easier.

I tried it and this is what it looked like after I added in the water. It already looks better than the dry piece of crap I made earlier. It actually looks like it will stick together. Let us all pray that it does.

This is what it looked like after it chilled in the fridge.

Thank you pastry gods!

Hmmm... The edges of the dough still cracked, but it did roll out better. I wonder-are cracked edges normal when you roll out dough?

To blind bake the shell, I filled it up with pinto beans and then baked it for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes were up, I needed to remove the beans and bake the tart for another 15 minutes. I got lazy and instead of taking the shell out of the oven to remove the beans, I tried to do it while it was in the oven. Not such a smart idea as some of pinto beans fell back into the hot oven. I left them in the oven thinking they're just beans they won't hurt anything. Yeah right. Those suckers really stink when they get burnt.

Ugly stinky burnt beans on the right-pretty non-stinky beans on the left.

My dough shrunk in the pan after I baked it. Why does that happen? I am quickly coming to the conclusion that pasty dough is a rebellious punk that does what it wants to do regardless how nice you are to it. I'm going to have to figure out what caused that. Deb at Smitten Kitchen has a no shrink tart dough recipe that I think I will try in a month or so. I need time to recuperate after this experience.

But the true test is how does it taste?

The next day:

My original plan was to make Tarte au Ganache Chocolat (Chocolate Ganache Tart) from "The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts" which is a tart shell filled with a chocolate ganache. But after my experience with pie dough I wasn't sure if my crust would be edible. So instead of wasting ingredients for the original ganache, I decided to use the chocolate sauce I had made for the profiteroles. I figured this chocolate sauce would work, as it becomes firm once it is refrigerated. I warmed up some of the sauce and poured it into the crust and let it sit overnight. After it was chilled, I finish off the chocolate tart with whipped cream and bittersweet chocolate shavings.

I was so, so good!

And surprise, surprise. The crust was light and flaky and tender just the way a good crust should be. This ladies and gentlemen is the first time I have achieved this. Wow. Hubby gave it a 9 out of 10, which is awesome. His mom made really good pie crust. The kind of crust you would get in a really good restaurant so he knows a good crust when he taste one. So I think I will pat myself on the back for this one.

I just need to keep making pie dough and then I will get a feel for it. It reminds me of making bread. It's something that has to be made over and over until you get a feel for. At least that's my theory and I' stinking to it.


Sign of a job well done.


  1. Your tart looks beautiful! Worth all the work.
    I have tried Deb's recipe and it is really good.

  2. Hi Patricia. Yes, it was definitely worth all the work!

  3. looks really good....just remember what doesn't kill us makes us stronger....

  4. thanks for friending me on foodbuzz, this tart looks terrific, and I like the layout of the pictures very nicely done~