I often get asked to review cookbooks. Sometimes I decline because it’s not my thing, but when I was asked to review Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg, I said yes on two counts.
I love to make pie crust.
I love to make biscuits as demonstrated by my 20 different recipes.
I already know in hearing from you that “dough” is intimidating and often misunderstood in why “the biscuits get tough” or the “pie crust doesn’t roll out and is chewy.”
The book, Making Dough, will help you understand the balance of the flour, fat and liquid, because it’s all about ratios. The first 24 pages are an illustrated tutorial which will help you understand how these simple ingredients create different pastry depending on the ratios.
Each chapter will guide you through a different type of dough…biscuit dough, tart dough, phyllo dough, scones dough, puff pastry and more. Once you grasp ratios, you can play around on your own. I’m going to use this book to teach me about the doughs I haven’t yet mastered.
The ratio for pie dough is 8 flour: 7 fat: 2 liquid.
If you want to make biscuits, the ration is 8 Flour: 3 fat: 5 liquid. This is so cool to know, and gives you some freedom to make up your own recipes.
I promised to make pie crust from the book and create a recipe. I already am very successful with pie crust, but I had to try Russell’s recipe. He has two variations. He makes his pie dough with a combination of bread flour and cake flour, but you could also substitute all purpose flour, or you could use all bread flour. (I didn’t try that, but I will).
The ratio for bread flour to cake flour is 3:1.
Doesn’t this sound intriguing. These ratios have my attention, because I like to play around and I always make more pie dough than what a recipe needs.
BAKING TIP: Make a little extra, and freeze the scraps. The scraps can be used for a future cobbler or mini-hand pies.
I made both, and both were successful. The all purpose flour pie dough is very similar to what I do, although I add sugar and one more tablespoon of butter. After making his recipe, I realize I could cut out that tablespoon. There was no difference.
He weighs his flour, which is truly the right way to bake.
The book provides several techniques, and I stuck with my food processor technique.
Now here’s the comical part. I prepared these gorgeous pear cranberry pie cookies, and then as I went to put them into the oven, most of them slid off of the baking sheet. They were too messy to put back together, but I never throw food out if I can help it. I was able to salvage three little hand pies. You can find out how to make them here.
Then I took the mess and made cobbler!
A kitchen mistake became a glorious Southern Pear Cranberry Cobbler.
This is truly a delicious cobbler, only slightly tart because the pears and cooked cranberries were refrigerated together several hours before using, which helped to ferment sweetness, and the cobbler pie crust is addicting.
In the South, when we break up pie dough with fruit, we call it cobbler. We eat it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. We eat it often, and this is going to grace my holiday table.
I took the broken dough and put some on the bottom of a cast iron pan. I added the fruit and then topped it again.
I made a second one where I just used all scraps of pie dough and threw it into the fruit and baked it. This pie crust tasted great no matter what I did with it.
The pie crust was tender and balanced. It’s all butter, which I believe creates the best flavor.
There are a few recipes in the book that I’ve already bought the ingredients for, so stay tuned. This is the season of desserts, and I’ll be making blueberry mascarpone hand pies and chocolate hazelnut hand pies.
So tell me, do you like pie crust as much as I do? What’s your favorite pie?
- 7 ounces all purpose flour (see notes)
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup iced cold water
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant tapioca
- orange zest from half orange
- juice of half orange
- tablespoon triple sec (optional)
- ½ cup water
- 6 large pears (about 3 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Prepare Pie Dough and Cobbler Filling. Both should be made in advanced and chilled first. This is perfect to prepare the day before, and then bake the next day. If you want a double crust cobbler, double the pie dough recipe.
- Pulse flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor 2 or 3 times to combine. Chop butter into ½-inch cubes and add to flour mixture.
- Pulse for 1 second about 8 times, until butter is in pieces about the size of large peas.
- and pulse 3 to 4 times, until dough begins to come together. It may remain in a few large chunks.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and push chunks together. Knead 4 to 5 times, until it holds its shape. Flatten dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Put cranberries, sugar, water, tapioca, cinnamon into a sauce pan with orange juice and zest.
- Let sit for about 15 minutes.
- Turn on heat and bring to boil.
- Cook for about 5 minutes until the cranberries just begin to burst.
- In the meantime, peel and chop pears.
- Combine the pears with hot cranberries.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour until chilled, preferably longer.
- At this point you can make a part, a tart, hand pies, or a cobbler using these ingredients.
- To make a cobbler, roll out the dough and using a cookie cutter, cut into large rounds about 4-6 inches in diameter.
- Place some rounds on bottom of pan. Every inch of bottom does not have to be covered. If you are using a large baking dish, don't put any pie dough on bottom, just put it all on the top.
- Pour fruit over pie dough.
- Top with more rounds. You can use a lattice pattern or use a biscuit cutter as I did.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
- For hand pies, follow these directions.
- For a large lattice topped cobbler, follow these directions.
- For cobbler in a jar, follow these directions.
Because pie dough contains no chemical leavener, it stores well wrapped tightly in parchment paper. You can easily double, triple, or even quadruple this dough recipe and store enough for a month’s worth of pies. If you know the shape of the dough you plan to roll later, form it into that shape, about 1 inch thick, before storing to make rolling it later easier. Refrigerator: 4 days. Freezer: 4 months.
Qualities of Good Pie Dough
THE DOUGH: Pie dough should be fairly dry and tough to manipulate. You should see dots of butter throughout the dough. When rolling, the dough should hold together well and not tear or break.
THE PASTRY: Once baked, pie crust should be very flaky. Crust that isn’t in contact with filling should crumble and flake easily. Portions touching filling will be slightly less flaky but should still be dry and crisp.