Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – Pie Dough

Pie Dough: Fresh Baked Fruit Pie
Pie Dough: Fresh Baked Fruit Pie

The next chapter in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio is about pie dough. I’ve worked with this a few times before so I wasn’t worried about failing this challenge, although previous recipes did involve volume measures and I never considered the ratio. I doubted that the ratio for this basic dough would differ much, but was eager to test it out. Pie dough is another simple ratio known as the 3:2:1 ratio consisting of flour, fat and water respectively.

When cooking, you must think with the end in mind so as to setup your mise en place and improve your chances for success. Making pie dough alone is interesting, because unlike the bread or pasta I made previously, it by itself is not a complete food item. Since the pie dough was my focus, the filling was less important to me. I had some frozen strawberries and peaches in the freezer so I opted to use those for what I hoped to be a nice fruit pie with streusel on top.

Rulhman’s initial suggestion for the 3-2-1 ratio starts with 12oz. flour, 8oz. fat, and 2-4 oz of water depending on how much water is necessary and a three finger pinch of salt. The amount of water varies depending on the type of fat and environment conditions like humidity. The result is two 9 inch pie crusts or a crust and top. I opted for a pâte brisée, also known as a short pastry since it lacks sugar since I figured the filling and top would have enough sugar as it was and used butter as my fat. Since butter is about 20 percent water, I wasn’t sure if I would need all of the measured water.

Pie Dough Ratio From The Book:

12 oz all purpose flour
8 oz butter (2 sticks)
2-4 oz water


10 oz strawberries
16 oz peaches
2 tbs brandy
1/2 cup sugar

Strawberry Crisp Streusel Topping:
Online Recipe Obtained From Here

3/4 cup  all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon – vanilla extract
Pinch – salt

The oven was preheated to 325 degrees F while I combined the butter and flour in my stand mixer and then added water slowly until everything became sticky, but not soupy. I then folded the dough into a disc and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes after which it was rolled out, and cut in two so I could create one pie tonight and one another night. Using a disposable pie tin, I filled it the first disc to create a nice pie shell.

Pie Dough: Pie Shell
Pie Dough: Pie Shell

I blind baked my pie crust for 20 minutes even though I didn’t have pie weights to ensure it would be firm enough for my filling. As anticipated, it began to bubble in the center although this mattered little to me as I planned on adding the fruit filling later.

Pie Dough: Fruit Filling
Pie Dough: Fruit Filling

I then added my filling and covered it with the streusel topping, and placed it oven for an hour and fifteen minutes. The result was an amazing pie that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Pie Dough: Fresh Baked Fruit Pie
Pie Dough: Fresh Baked Fruit Pie

Creating pie dough is one of those scary culinary things that few people even consider attempting. Keeping the dough cold proved to be a challenge which I combated with regular placement of the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes at a time to keep it cool. Overall with the use of my mixer it wasn’t as hard to work with as I anticipated, and while my pie may not be store quality in terms of taste or presentation, it was satisfying to make nonetheless. An added bonus of using the mixer besides the saved energy on my part was the fact that my body heat didn’t heat up the dough. This was a key lesson for future pie dough attempts. With one more disc waiting for me, more practice awaits and I eagerly embrace it.

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