Hot Water Pie crust

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  • #31410
    skeptic7
    Participant

    I was looking at a KAF recipe for “birdies”. Scottish meat pies, and it called for Hot Water Pastry. I’ve seen this recipe before but I don’t think I’ve tried it. If I have it was too far back. Has anyone made this sort of pie crust? Would it work with whole wheat? Can you tell me about it? I could just experiment on my own and put an apple filling but I would like to benefit from your experience.

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    #31412
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work with whole wheat flour, I’ve made Susan Purdy’s hot water crust a number of times, it makes a good crust for a large pot pie. The challenge for me is always figuring out how much crust to make, it seems to be heavier than a butter crust and a bit thicker, too.

    You might have to use more water, whole wheat flour tends to absorb more water than AP flour. If you can’t work it enough to roll it out, you may need to add more water. It always reminds me a bit of softened modeling clay, quite a bit stiffer than a regular pie crust. You need to work it while it is still warm.

    #31466
    skeptic7
    Participant

    I was reading various hot water crust recipes; Susan Purdy’s, KAF 200, a couple on the internet and I can’t see how they work!! Some seem to pour hot shortening and water mixture into the flour, some cold, some use quite a bit of shortening 1:2 ratio, to Susan Purdys 1:3 ratio of shortening to flour, some much less the KAF birdie recipe has only 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of flour. Why would this be more pliable than an oil pie crust? There are experiments in my future.

    #31467
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    I’m not sure where I read it, but one description of a hot water crust said it breaks all the rules but still works.

    I suspect part of what the hot water does is similar to a tangzhong bread, the hot water starts the process of gelatinizing the starch in the flour.

    Kenji Lopez-Alt has written a lot about pie crusts (he invented the vodka pie crust when he was working at Cook’s Illustrated) and he says the trick to a good pie crust is to get the flour to coat the fat (the opposite of conventional wisdom), and melting the fat might encourage that. I wonder if he’s ever looked into a hot water pie crust? The word ‘pie’ isn’t even in the index for his book, “The Food Lab”.

    I use his trick of holding back a little of the flour (around 20%) until after the fat has been cut into a pie crust, I think it improves my all-butter crusts. In pastry school they initially had us cut the fat in with a chef’s knife, it takes a long time but you get to watch what’s happening. Most of the time we were allowed to use a mixer, and at home I’ve used my fingers, a knife, a pastry cutter, my KA mixer and a food processor, and I’ve pretty much settled on using the mixer.

    #31468
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    Re-reading Kenji’s article on pie crusts, it occurs to me that using whole wheat flour for a pie crust has one advantage, it might discourage gluten formation.

    #31470
    Mike Nolan
    Keymaster

    Here’s what Cook’s Illustrated has to say about hot water pie crust, but I suspect this was not Kenji Lopez-Alt’s work.

    hot water pie crust

    I think the recipe Susan Purdy has makes a very good savory pie, I use it for chicken pot pie.

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