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Bakers, why was my pie crust hard as a rock?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm new at baking, so if you're experienced, please give me some advice! I tried to make the spanakopita from Laurel's Kitchen last night and the crust was hard as a rock. We ended up scraping out the filling. What might have gone wrong? Too much flour? Too long baking? Too little butter? Might I have failed to roll the dough out thinly enough?
post #2 of 11
Too much working the dough, or not enough layers worked in?
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding, Apricot. Actually, this recipe doesn't call for any layers..it's more like a traditional pie crust. Just flour, salt, and water, with melted butter drizzled on it. I may very well have worked the dough too much.
post #4 of 11
What kind of flour did you use? The Laurel's Kitchen authors typically call for whole wheat (I can't find my copy right now so I can't check out the recipe you mention). If you used bread flour instead of ww pastry flour, that could be a problem.

What did you use for shortening? I like the Earth's Balance shortening (non-hydrogenated, no transfats). The best pie crusts are made with saturated fat, and it has to be worked in really cold.

Though spanikopita is typically made with phyllo dough, which I think most people don't make at home, but buy. You can buy ww phyllo dough now! I learned to work with phyllo before I had the guts to make pie crusts.
post #5 of 11
I cross posted with you.

Flour and water with melted butter on it? That doesn't make any sense.

I have to go find my cookbook.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks captain optimism. The recipe called for finely ground, sifted ww, but I used all-purpose white b/c I don't have a sifter.
I've made it with phyllo, and also with Puff Pastry sheets(which was really good-- little individual triangular pies) but I was hoping for a cheaper, healthier way.
post #7 of 11
When mine is hard it's because I over-worked the dough. You want it to just barely come together & roll it quick before the gluten gets a chance to form. Personally, the ingredients don't seem to matter as much as the treatment of the dough.
post #8 of 11
Oh, okay, I see. They have you make a sort of strudel dough thing, relying heavily on the gluten in the flour, and they do this weird thing of having you sift your ww flour and take out the bran. (Why not just buy white flour with germ? )

This is not an easy recipe. I can see how it could come out badly. I might have something for you that will be easier and similar.
post #9 of 11
This is Claudia Roden's magic dough. It should not work, but it does.

1/2 cup oil (olive oil is traditional)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 2 1/2 cups flour

Mix the water, oil and salt in a bowl--beat them until the oil is in droplets and the salt dissolves a bit. Gradually work in enough flour to make a soft, malleable dough--stir it with a whisk or fork to start, and then with your hands. You can roll it out right away, or put it aside, but don't put it in the fridge.

I used this dough to make chickpea pies, from her Book of Jewish Food. She just says "flour" so I used a mix of ww and white. I do not understand how this dough works chemically, it's probably something like a pate choux.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks alliwenk and C.O. I'm going to give it one more try, being easier on the dough, but if it doesn't work out I'm going back to puff pastry sheets.

X-posted....thanks c.o., that looks doable.
post #11 of 11
Just one more thing - if you're making a pastry crust from flour, water and butter, you want to make sure that the butter and water are as cold as possible. I keep my butter for pastry making in the freezer, and use it frozen. If you have a food processor, making a crust is a snap - use all regular flour or half regular flour and half pastry flour (no bread flour, due to the gluten content), add a bit of salt, cut your frozen butter into pieces, add to the flour and salt, and process in pulses until the bits are all incorporated and the mixture resembles cornmeal. Then add cold water (ice water or water from the fridge) in as small a quantity as possible JUST until the dough holds together (test it with your hand; do not wait until it forms a ball in the food processor, or else you will have added too much liquid. Very important: Do not overwork the dough at this stage. Form into a ball, flatten, cover and refrigerate until use.
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