How to Keep Your Pie Dough From Cracking – Part 1

How to Keep Your Pie Dough From Cracking – Part 1

Hi, it’s Ken Haedrich Dean of the Pie
Academy and I hope you don’t go away because I’m about to show you five ways
to avoid one of the most common pie making problems that I hear about from
you. So stick around. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that about seven
days a week at least once or twice a day I get an email from someone who’s having
a pie dough meltdown because for either the fifth or maybe the fiftieth time
they’ve tried to roll out their dough and it just keeps cracking and falling
apart and making a mess. Now in case you’ve never had or heard a pie dough
meltdown it often goes something like this: I’m having fits, I’m pulling
my hair out, I’m going to kick the dog and my husband’s going to leave me if I
can’t start making a decent pie dough that doesn’t fall apart. I don’t know
what to do. And I feel so bad when I get these emails I mean I just want to reach
through the computer screen and take these tortured souls by the hand and
tell them to take a deep breath and put on some relaxing new-age music and that
everything’s going to be just fine. And provided they do these five things
of course. First make sure that you’re cutting in the fat enough. This is the
source of a lot of cracking problems not to mention the source of a lot of tough
crust because if the fat isn’t cut in enough you’re going to get these dry
floury pockets where the dough wants to break apart. Okay so here I am cutting in
the fat by hand and at first I’ve got these nice big chunks and flakes of fat
at this point, but the fat isn’t well distributed. So I’ll just keep cutting
and just keep cutting them. Now how long do you cut in the fat and how long do
you go? Well my friend the late Marion Cunningham who wrote all those wonderful
Fannie Farmer cookbooks she had a great expression that I just love – she used to
say cut in the fat until everything looks like it’s been “touched” by the fat,
which is really just another way of saying to make sure you don’t see a lot
of dry flour in your bowl. Notice the difference between the mixture you see
on the left and the mixture you see on the right? The one on the left is all
floury and chunky, the one on the right has a
variety of fat chunk sizes but it’s more uniform than the stuff on the left. The
color is often a telltale sign that you’ve cut enough too. You see the mixture on the right? It’s more of a buttery off-white color. That indicates more even
distribution of the fat. That’s what you want yours to look like. Number 2, and
this is common sense but you have been so spooked about adding the water to
your dough that maybe you can’t see the obvious and that is that your dough is
probably dry and cracking because you didn’t have enough water. Makes sense
right? Now listen very carefully. It’s time to get over your fear of adding
water to your pastry. We’re not going to be mamby-pamby about this anymore and do in it little tentative drips and drizzles and worry about it the whole time.
Instead, we’re going to man up cowboys and cowgirls and we’re going to pour it
over the top all at once then we’re going to take our big pastry
fork and stir it all up. The type of stir we’re going to employ is what I call a
stir toss which looks like this. The idea is to moisten everything while
the mixture is still nice and loose. Instead of pressing it all together
right away when you start stirring. Now if you’ve done everything I told you up
to this point your dough is going to come together pretty quickly and become
nice and packable so you can do the next step. I’ll show you that in the second
half of this video see over there.

14 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Pie Dough From Cracking – Part 1”

  1. Sandy – I'm so glad to hear this has helped. Thanks so much for letting me know, and don't forget to visit – lots more good pie videos there. Ken

  2. Sadly, I can't make pie to save my life. This video gives me the courage to try it again. I loved the banjo background music. I love the banjo but I play worse than I make pie dough. Cowboys don't duckface.

  3. Hello Ken. Thank you very much for the instruction on both your videos. I DID have a melt down about an hour ago. For the first time I was trying to make two pot pies, and I made the dough for each according to recipe, but when I was ready to roll the dough, it was cracking and pulling apart. I tried numerous times only for it to pull apart as I rolled the pin over it. I added flour hoping it would keep it together, but to no avail. So I got both pot pie crusts ( recipe called for top crust only) and slammed them into the garbage. Afterwards I found your video. I'll try your instructions tomorrow. By the way, the recipe told me to break the butter into the flour using my food processor instead of fork or pastry cutter. Maybe I didn't process it long enough as it told me to pulse about ten times. I also wondered if I had too much "fat" in the flour, but I went by the recipe which was 1.5 cups of flour to four tablespoons of cooking shortening (the stick kind). Then after the shortening, it told me to add 8 tablespoons of butter and pulse it 10 times as well. Butter and shortening all chilled of course. Any way, it didn't hold together. So I'll try it your way and let you know how I do. Thank you so much. By the way, I like the humor in your video. — Jose

  4. This totally saved me when I was having issues with my pie crust! I was completely frustrated getting my pies done for an annual bake sale I committed to. Thanks KEN!!

  5. yo ken thanks for negging me into manning up when adding water, that plus the "stir with a fork" trick, plus the "roll it out in a ziplock bag" trick added up into the first decent pie crust I've ever managed to make. thank you, sir!

  6. Here's what I find frustrating and inexplicable: Pie dough recipes state precise amounts of flour and fat, but then they give a range for the amount of water, like "6 to 8 tablespoons." Good grief, if you tell us exactly how much flour, then why can't you tell us the right amount of water for your recipe? Perfect your recipe and then publish it when you know the correct amounts.

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