The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Blitz puff pastry for pie crust? Yes!

  • Pin It
cor's picture
cor

Blitz puff pastry for pie crust? Yes!

Hi everyone,

 

Seems like EVERYONE making pies is looking for the flaky pie crust, layers and layers that fall apart as you cut into it.  Why, then, are cookbooks and tutorials filled almost exclusively with shortening crusts where Crisco is broken into tiny, tiny "pea-sized" shapes and the dough is kneaded until it's nice and smooth.  And even the same for butter crusts, cutting and cutting the butter until it resembles "cornmeal." I'm never impressed.  After working in a bakery for a bit, I decided to do a little experimenting.  I liked the recipes for basic pate brisee, but wanted something a little flakier.  Much flakier.  Blitz puff pastry.

 

Blitz puff pastry, flakier than regular pie dough but not as flaky and puffy as the classic version.  We all know it, but I don't think it's thought of for use as pie crust.  It has everything you want.  A thousand layers that flake as you cut into it, they melt in your mouth as soon as you bite into it.  So, why not use blitz puff pastry?  Why is it never mentioned when discussing pie crusts? It works, it makes pie crust flaky, and it's simple.  Here's my recipe, adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef (Friberg).

 

Makes enough for 2 or 3 pie shells

570 g King Arthur AP flour

570 g cold butter

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

180 mL cold water

 

1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a stand mixer bowl.

2. Cut the butter into large, 1-inch by 1-inch cubes.  Add to the flour mixture.  Mix on lowest speed for about 20 to 30 seconds with the paddle attachment until the butter is flattened (it will look like thick sheets).  Stop the mixer and push any remaining unflattened cubes of butter between two fingers until they become flat.  The butter should still be in very large, flat pieces.

3. Add the water all at once.  Mix on lowest speed for 15-20 seconds, until the dough is BARELY coming together.  It will be an absolute shaggy mess of big sheets of butter, wet pieces of dough and dry flour mixture.  STOP mixing at this point and empty the bowl onto a clean, lightly floured countertop.

4. Using your hands, gently form the mass into a very rough rectangle, maybe 5 inches by 9 inches or so (and 1 to 2 inches thick).  It will still be a shaggy, wet, dry, butter cubed mess at this point.  That is perfect.  Let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes.

5. Here it's a little tricky.  Using a bench knife, collect any dry/wet errant pieces on the sides of the rectangle of dough and add them to the top of the dough.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a larger rectangle 3/4 inch or so thick, flouring lightly as needed.  Use the bench knife as needed to coaxe renegade scraps of dough back onto the mass.  It will still be shaggy at this point.  Give the dough a 3-fold as best as you can, as you would with croissant dough.  Immediately perform 2 more 3-fold turns, followed by one 4-fold turn, all the while adding to the rectangle any dry or wet pieces that fall off.  By the end of the final turn, the dough will be mostly smooth and completely incorporated.  You should see large sheets of butter throughout the dough.  DO NOT add any extra water at anytime throughout this process.  

6. Perhaps the most important step.  Wrap the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, until the dough is very firm.  The butter must be thoroughly chilled at this point to create the layers you desire.  

7. Roll out the dough gently and use as you would any other pie dough, being careful to handle it gently so as to preserve the layers of butter and dough (never push on the dough with your hands or fingers).  (Note: I find that using disposable aluminum pie tins yield much more tender and flaky crusts than ceramic or glass ones, which seem to bake the crust too quickly and leave it hard and tough).

 

 

Next time you're making a pie, consider it.  Tell me what you think.  Use this recipe or one of your own and try lining your pie tin with blitz.  I'm eating a blitz puff pastry pie right now.

 

The result?

 

 

 

a bite-sized piece from the crimped edges of a pecan pie

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

There are a lot of otherwise competent home cooks and bakers who are already afraid of regular pie crust recipes.  The process for blitz puff pastry that you have outlined would send most of them running for cover.  

Pie is one of my favorite desserts.  Conventional crust recipes call for approximately 1 part fat to 3 parts flour, by volume, making pie something of a guilty pleasure.  A crust that consists of equal parts fat and flour, by weight, pushes the guilt factor too high for my pleasure.

I agree that it looks absolutely beautiful.  And I would imagine that the flavor and texture are outstanding, too.  

One question about technique: Step 5 requires several folds in succession.  Is it intended that the dough be rolled back out to a thinner rectangle between each fold?

Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

had a chance to learn a bit about blitz puff pastry and I would decribe the process as almost literally "easy as pie".  I consider that it has many applications and just need to work more of it into my baking schedule.

I'm sure it makes a lovely pie crust for some.

For me, though, it's not a pie crust - I have very distinct sense memories on a good pie crust and blitz puff pastry isn't it . 

But you have a great suggestion there - and really the procedure is not really that daunting...

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

It makes an acceptable pie crust, but it's used more often in tartes than pies. (Also, it can fail if the pie filling has a lot of water, like a custard).

Compared to traditional puff pastry, it's much easier and less time consuming to make; compared to pie crust–no question–the pie crust is the easier.

Try it with the Pear Tart Belle-Hélène (Tarte aux poires Belle-Hélène). The best one I've had is from Le Panier Bakery in Seattle's Pike's Place Market, which uses a puff pastry crust, almond cream (made of butter, sugar, almond meal, eggs, flour, vanilla & rum aroma paste), pears, chocolate pistole, semi-sweet 58% (the brand they use is Cacao Barry), and sliced almonds.

Here's another one, but it calls for both puff and shortcrust: http://www.cuisine-french.com/cgi/mdc/l/en/recettes/tarte_poire_ln_ill.html

Parasite8's picture
Parasite8

I just HAD to comment on how flakey the crust looks like. I've tried to make pie crusts and failed and looking forward to trying this. I've never heard or tried blitz crust. Gonna search to see what it exactly is compared to regular pie crust, puff pastry.

THanks.

cor's picture
cor

Hey thanks thomascon, looks good.  I'll check that out.  You are right; this crust works best when the filling is not very watery, such as apple pie.  Paul, yes; after each fold (turn) the dough must be rerolled before it can be folded again.

 

I'm sure, also, there could be a compromise; if you think the crust is too flaky with 3 single turns and 1 double turn, apply less turns.  Or none at all.  The ingredients are very similar to a butter pie crust, but the additional techniques are different.

wildeny's picture
wildeny

Why, then, are cookbooks and tutorials filled almost exclusively with shortening crusts where Crisco is broken into tiny, tiny "pea-sized" shapes and the dough is kneaded until it's nice and smooth.  And even the same for butter crusts, cutting and cutting the butter until it resembles "cornmeal." I'm never impressed. 

Check out this video (NYT), where Melissa Clark shows what shapes you should look for.

GermanFoodie's picture
GermanFoodie

but that is just my personal opinion. I make a very good pie crust that uses butter. The dough is only combined until all the flour has been hydrated. It ressembles a very coarse meal padded together. It makes the best pies, very flaky.

Mealy crust is more like what you are describing, and it is very close to what Germans use in their baking as pastry dough for things like cheesecake. The butter there is worked into the dough until it is smooth and evenly mixed. That one gives you a texture like crumbly cookies.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Puff pastry and pastries with similar qualities have their place in baking and, yes, even for some types of pie.  But "pie crust" is no more generic that "bread".  I've used puff pastry types of crust where I found them to be appropriate, but my butter based pie crust recipe and my lard based recipe each have their place in my baking repertoire.  "Crisco" is simply a brand of solid vegetable shortening; there are countless others.  And I wouldn't "ban" any of them or deny them their rightful place as a baking ingredient.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

I personally don't find vegetable shortening worth picking off the shelf. And since the prevalence of adding canola oil to everything and calling it a vegetable oil or shortening, (I am allergic to canola don't like the taste and won't buy it) wouldn't ever buy vegetable shortening. I don't like the taste of pie crust made with it, don't find it makes as good a crust as regular lard or butter or even cream cheese, and it shrinks far more than any of those.

While the blitz puff pastry is good for many things including some pies, I still like my good old tenderflake lard crust, or heaven forbid the bacon grease pie crust of my childhood. (and trying to get large pieces of bacon grease in pie crust is an art in itself, very difficult to do because the bacon grease even refrigerated is softer than lard or butter) Of course its a matter of personal preference but I'd ban vegetable shortening in a minute.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I must concur that Crisco has no place on any food shelf.  It is a product of cottonseed oil and subjected to an array of  sprays including defoliating chemicals applied shortly prior to harvest.  It is nothing I care to ingest but I do think that any consenting adult who wants to have such items in their diet, should do so.   The same goes for canola oil.


Jeff