3-2-1 Pie Dough and Desserts!

Baked Apple Tart

3-2-1 Pie Dough and Desserts!

I love making pies. I’ve been working on improving my pie dough making for desserts over the past few months. I love making beautiful dessert tarts even more. Sure the rustic nature of a pie is great, but there is an elegance in making a tart.

With the birth of our son Jeremy, we have been blessed with support from family, friends, neighbors and the community at large. I decided to give back to one particular neighbor in the best way I know how, through food, after they gifted us a crib their youngest son grew out of.

I still prefer the 3-2-1 Pie Dough recipe ratio from Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio over others I’ve tried. The time it takes to make a solid pie dough and thus tart crust has increased significantly. The time increase mostly comes from the chilling process after working with the dough at each step to relax the gluten and prevent its formation. In my last entry I wrote about Pie Dough and Quiche Lorraine. I didn’t expand much on the pie dough process that much, so this post has pictures to help guide you along.

Pie Dough Ratio:

The first step for the tart dough was of course to make the pie dough ratio. Scaled down for one tart pan (or pie pan) it is:

  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick) cut into chunks
  • 2 to 3 oz of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (this is a sweet dessert after all)

I opted to keep the original amounts so I could make a tart for our neighbors while also being able to savor and judge the results myself. How else am I going to get better if I don’t taste and judge my own products?!

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl or food processor.
    Dry Ingredients in Cuisinart
  2. Break the cold butter into chunks.
    Butter and Water
    Cut Butter
    Cut Butter
  3. Cut the butter into the flour, salt and sugar either by rubbing it in or by pulsing in the food processor.
    Butter into Dry Ingredients
    Combined Butter and Dry Ingredients*Note: Using a food processor makes it less likely that you’ll melt the butter with your body heat. We want to reduce the amount of water we use to prevent the creation of gluten which would result in a tough leathery crust.
  4. Slowly add water until the dough just comes together.
    Adding Water to Butter and Dry Ingredients*Note: It may be sandy or brittle. When resting in later steps, the water will be absorbed by the flour.
  5. Bring the dough together into the shape of a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Roll out the dough into a disc that is slightly bigger than the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Wrap in plastic and chill again for 30 minutes.
  7. Place the dough into the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Ensure that the dough is pressed into the edges. You can use your fingers for this.
  8. Trim any excess dough
    1. If using a pie pan, trim the excess dough from the edges with a knife. Leave a little extra if you’ll be pinching the edge to make it more decorative
    2. If using a tart pan, you can easily trim the excess by rolling over it with a rolling pin. The tart pan will cut the dough and you can peel off the excess.
      Rolling Out Tart Dough
      Rolling out tart dough
  9. Chill your tart pan or pie pan with dough
  10. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
  11. Blind bake the tart crust for 20 to 25 minutes by either:
    1. Covering the dough with parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights or
    2. Docking the crust with a fork (poking holes). If bubble form while baking, simply poke them with a fork or small sharp knife.
  12. It’s ready when the sides take on some color and dry a small amount. We’ll be baking it long and slow later, so it doesn’t need to be fully cooked.
    Blind baked tart crust

Tart Filling

  • 4 apples, cored and peeled and sliced
  • 1 lemon, to prevent the browning of the apples and to add some flavor
  • ~ 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small chunks
  1. Cut the apples into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Cover the apples with lemon juice as you cut them to prevent browning.
  3. Arrange the apples in the blind baked tart crust
    Lining up apples
  4. Cover the apples with generous amounts of sugar. You may find that you don’t use all of the sugar. That’s ok!
  5. Add the chunks of butter on to of the sugar and apples.
    Butter and Sugar on top of Apples
  6. Bake until the crust is golden and the apples have softened while taking on some color.
  7. While still warm, glaze the apples with the heated apricot jam.
    Baked Apple Tart
  8. Enjoy!

Plated Apple Tart

 

I’m still working on technique, but enjoy making apple tarts. They remind me of my mom as she used to enjoy making them for parties. I hope you enjoy making them too! If you have any comments or questions, please post them below!

Bon Appétit!

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3-2-1 Pie Dough and Quiche Lorraine

It’s been a while since I’ve made quiche. I felt inspired and figured I’d take my culinary school knowledge to work.

I’ve made this pie dough in the past (posted here and here) and it still is one of my favorite recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio.

Pie Dough

The first step for the quiche was of course to make the pie dough. Scaled down for one tart pan (or pie pan) it is:

  • 6 oz flour
  • 4 oz butter (1 stick) cut into chunks
  • 2 to 3 oz of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, and salt in a bowl or food processor.
  2. Break the cold butter into the flour and salt either by rubbing it in or by pulsing in the food processor
  3. Slowly add water until the dough just comes together.
    *Note: It may be sandy or brittle. When resting in later steps, the water will be absorbed by the flour.
  4. Bring the dough together into the shape of a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Roll out the dough into a disc that is slightly bigger than the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Wrap in plastic and chill again for 30 minutes.
  6. Place the dough into the tart pan or pie pan you’ve chosen. Ensure that the dough is pressed into the edges. You can use your fingers for this.
  7. Trim any excess dough
    1. If using a pie pan, trim the excess dough from the edges with a knife. Leave a little extra if you’ll be pinching the edge to make it more decorative
    2. If using a tart pan, you can easily trim the excess by rolling over it with a rolling pin. The tart pan will cut the dough and you can peel off the excess.
  8. Chill your tart pan or pie pan with dough
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  10. Cover the pie dough with parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights and blind bake for 20 to 25 minutes. It’s ready when the sides take on some color and dry.

Quiche Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
    * while not traditional, it’s what I had!
  • pinch of salt
  • white pepper to taste
  • bacon
  1. Crack eggs into a bowl
  2. Add the heavy cream and cheese
  3. Add salt and pepper and whisk
  4. Break/crumble bacon or the addition of your choice into the liquid

Finishing it all up

  1. When the pie crust is ready from blind baking, take it out of the oven, remove the parchment paper and immediately pour the liquid into it. The liquid will create a seal as it hardens preventing any leaks.

    Quiche Lorraine After Blink Baking
    After Blink Baking
  2. Make sure the cheese and bacon are easily distributed
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the center is just set
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!
Right out of the oven
Right out of the oven, Rising Life a Soufflé
Quiche Lorraine hot and cooling
Hot and cooling
Quiche Lorraine cooled off
Cooled off
A tasty little slice of Quiche Lorraine
A tasty little slice

Tips:

  • For the pie dough, everything should be cold. Use ice water if you can.
  • Non-iodized salt is best for baking. It will distribute more evenly throughout
  • Chill your pie dough after working it each time. Chilling relaxes the gluten preventing a chewy crust. It should be chilled at least 3o minutes each time.
  • Think about the end product. For the filling I chose white pepper so as not to overpower the other flavors and so I wouldn’t have black specs in my quiche
  • Place the quiche tart pan or pie pan on a sheet pan. It will make the process of putting the tart into the oven and pulling it out much easier and safer.
  • Be careful and don’t place the quiche too close to the heating element if you’re using an electric stove. You might get more browning on the top than you intended.
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Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – More Pie Dough

As easy as 3-2-1; that’s how making pie dough goes when you forget about how difficult everyone says making it is and you focus on the ratio and method. I had one remaining disc from yesterday’s pie dough making to use and today seemed like a great day to use it. I have a work activity tomorrow that my team is sponsoring so in addition to using my remaining disc I also decided to create another batch, but this time of pâte sucrée or dough with the addition of sugar to make both a French Apple Tart and French Peach Tart.

Using the first disc, I created chocolate tarts which consisted of molded dough and chocolate ganache I made by using 2 parts chocolate and 1 part heavy cream (Ruhlman’s book has a ratio for this in the coming chapters so it will be interesting to compare my results). These proved to be harder to make than I anticipated. To create the “cups” for the chocolate, I rolled out the disc and then cut it into squares. Each square was then pinched together with corners touching and molded into a cup. In order to get this done, I split the disc into three equal sections and stored each “batch” in the refrigerator as I worked on the next.

Each time I pulled the tray out for the new cups, I noticed that the previous ones had hardened up in their cup form and were cool to the touch. A good sign.

Pie Dough: Tart Cups
Pie Dough: Tart Cups

My one mistake with these was to not firm up the last batch of cups in the fridge before I put them into the preheated oven at 325 degrees F. When I took them out after 15 minutes, the ones that were not cooled had flattened out, losing the desired cup shape. Others puffed up with steam, perhaps as a result of me not docking the bakes with a fork. This did not deter me as the final taste would not be affected.

As the cups were baking, I worked on the ganache, bringing 4 ounces of heavy cream to a simmer and then pouring it over a measured 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate pieces. After the warm cream had melted most of the chocolate, I used the mixer to combine the too into what can be described as pure chocolate decadence.

Using a spoon, the ganache was placed into the successful and not-so-successful cups alike and allowed to cool.

Pie Dough: Chocolate Ganache Tarts
Pie Dough: Chocolate Ganache Tarts

I clearly had made too much of the chocolate ganache which can hardly be viewed as a bad thing unless one is considering diet. Thoughts like this make me wonder how the average amount of weight gained at culinary school can only be 10 pounds as indicated by Chef Roberta during the info session at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. My pants waistlines will have to be my mindful helpers in my desire not to gain weight as I learn the culinary arts.

With one batch of pie dough under my belt, the second batch of dough was a breeze to make in the stand mixer. I poured my ingredients in and in no time had my dough ready to rest and cool in the refrigerator.

Pie Dough: Mixing in my KitchenAid
Pie Dough: Mixing in my KitchenAid

As the dough cooled, I cut 3 apples and 3 peaches into slices and set them aside. I then rolled out the dough into two rectangles, a task not easy to do when the dough is cold. The peach and apple slices were placed on top as well as a half cup of sugar on top of each and squares of butter and set to bake for 30 minutes. This dough seemed to cook much faster than previous doughs I have made before and actually burned a bit to my disappointment. I wasn’t about to through everything out after all the time I had spent, especially with the rolling and shaping of the dough, and hoped that people wouldn’t mind tomorrow. As the tarts baked, I heated up a cup and a half of apricot jelly with 2tbs of spiced rum and poured this over the tarts as soon as they were pulled out of the oven and left everything to cool.

Pie Dough: Apple Tart
Pie Dough: Apple Tart
Pie Dough: Peach Tart
Pie Dough: Peach Tart

With any luck, everything will taste as amazing as it looks. I’ll have to admit, I did taste the chocolate tarts to ensure that they were suitable for consumption. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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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

Filling:

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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Good Things Don’t Go To Waste

I just finished up writing about my French Apple Tart attempt.  As I read my culinary books and learn more about what it’s like to work in the industry I am more in tune with the efficiency required in the kitchen when cooking. This was a problem in last Friday’s cooking class. I am also more aware of waste and how unused food can be re-crafted into other creations to avoid waste and save money. Tonight I tried to tackle both lessons head on.

First, I was left with extra apples and pie dough from my French Apple Tart since it was smaller than the recipe called for after cutting it. The only thing that came to mind given the quantity that I had was an apple pie. I figured I had enough pie dough for one of my ramekins and I also had enough apples to fill it. I rolled out the dough and lined the ramekin and then placed the apples inside with butter and some apricot jelly.

Improvised Mini Apple Pie Filled Up
Improvised Mini Apple Pie Filled Up

I then covered the top with the remaining dough and poke vent holes in it. I brushed the top with melted butter and placed it into the oven along with the tart with 30 minutes to go.

Improvised Mini Apple Pie Ready For Baking
Improvised Mini Apple Pie Ready For Baking

It only took about 25 minutes for the pie to bake, and once the crust looked nicely browned I pulled it out to cool.

Baked Improvised Mini Apple Pie
Baked Improvised Mini Apple Pie

Once it cooled enough to eat, I was able to enjoy my second gym workout-destroying dessert of the night. I was very happy with the result. The addition of the apricot jelly added some nice texture and flavor to the end result.

The second thing that I have noticed is that I create things in single batches and don’t leverage a pre-heated oven or the fact that I already have my tools and machines out for making food.  I decided to leverage this by creating chocolate-chip walnut muffins that I can eat for breakfast throughout the week. I’ve had a lot of practice making the muffins, so this was an easy task.

I had turned down the temperature in the oven to 375 degrees F as the recipe required. I then mixed up my batter and greased the muffin tin. I was feeling pretty confident with the batter and decided to put in more chocolate chips and walnuts than usual and set my timer for 20 minutes before putting the batter into the tin.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Ready For Baking
Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Ready For Baking

They muffins were placed into the oven and set to bake as usual while I began the clean-up process. While I was more efficient with my time and tools, the kitchen at this point was quite croweded and needed to be cleaned up to make space. Cleaning up as you go is something so simple and yet so important when working in the kitchen. After 18 minutes the muffins looked perfect and I took them out to cool.

Baked Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins
Baked Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

I realized that after 5 minutes of cooling I had forgotten to take them out of the tin and put them onto the cooling racks. I did this as quickly as possible fearing that the hot tin would cause them to become mushy as they cooled as was stated by the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Cooling
Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Cooling

The muffins finished on the racks, but they were noticably different than previous batches. They were a bit softer to the touch and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of my carelessness with the recipe with respect to the addition of chocolate chips and walnuts without measuring or if it was forgetting to pull them out of the tin and place them on cooling racks immediately.  Luckily taste was unaffected and delicious as usual.

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Not As Easy As It Looks: French Apple Tart

A few weeks ago I turned on the the TV to watch the Food Network, a common occurrence these days.  The Barefoot Contessa was on with a “back to basics” special, so I decided to stay tuned in. If only you could order a cable package with just the Food Network. One items she made caught my eye, a French Apple Tart. It looked simple to make and when done, looked delicious. I figured, why not make it when I have some free time? I bought the apples and apricot jam that I needed and put them away until I had time. Tonight was such an occasion. I don’t know why I chose to spend my time this way. My cupboards and freezer are jammed packed with bread and cookies, and now I have more items to add to them.

I created my dough and put it in the fridge to stay cool for one hour. I then started peeling the apples and realized my peeler sucks; this is the first Oxo product that I would have to say is no good. Once peeled, I realized coring them would be a problem. I don’t have a melon baller, so I had to use a pairing knife. This is the second Oxo product that I have that is no good. The handle was just too big, and the apples were just too delicate. I was able to cut my slices and get them ready. Time passed and my hour was up. My next task was to roll out my dough. The dough was tough to roll and a bit dry and started to split as it became thinner and thinner. As I pressed on,  I realized that I would have to do some serious cutting to make it rectangular and uniform. This left me with some extra dough

With the dough rolled out, it was placed on parchment paper set on top of a non-stick cookie sheet. The oven was preheated to 400 degrees F and I started to place my apples on top diagonally as described. I next placed the sugar on top and then cubes of butter throughout.

French Apple Tart Ready for the Oven
French Apple Tart Ready for the Oven

I set my timer to one hour and then placed the cookie sheet into the oven. The recipe said that it should take between 45 to 60 minutes so I figured at 45 minutes I would check in for doneness (…is that a word?). At 45 minutes, it looked close to ready so I let it stay for another 10 minutes. That clearly was too long. My edges burned and as I opened the oven door smoke billowed out causing my smoke detector to go off. I’m sure my neighbors love me. I pulled out the apple tart and set it to cool.

My Baked French Apple Tart
My Baked French Apple Tart

In the meantime I heated up some apricot jelly and rum in a sauce pan to thin it out. I then drizzled the mixture on top of the tart and let it cool before taking the first bite.

French Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze
French Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze

Despite the burnt edges, the apple tart is amazing. My tart was smaller than it was supposed to be, and that might have contributed to the baking results. I also shouldn’t have let it stay for another 10 minutes, but I was afraid of opening the oven too many times and causing the temperature to drop. I envy those with a glass window in their oven doors that allows them to check their food. I also envy those with gas stoves and ovens, but I don’t want to get too greedy. One can dream.

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