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Here are the notes from my class as promised. I will post the recipes soon but first you must understand the science behind the process.

With a basic understanding of the ingredients involed in pie and tart making then you can better access the problem if something does happen to go wrong and you can also work to develop your favorite dough by tweaking a few minor things.

I hope you enjoy these notes and learn something new!
3         :       2        :       1
Flour     Butter    Water
Butter is tricked into thinking it is a solid – this ensures a flaky crust.

Liquid is replaced with sugar/eggs. Fat is incorporated (creamed) rather than being left in large solid pieces. This creates a crispy more cookie-like texture.

Creating the PERFECT PIE CRUST: tender, flaky and beautifully brown

FLAKINESS: fat remains solid, flat, large and cold
TENDERNESS: use low protein flour (or add a small percentage of cornstarch to     all-purpose flour, fat keeps flour proteins separate
BROWNING: high protein content and sugar with low acidity browns faster

FLOUR: affects gluten formation, moisture absorption, and tenderness. Higher protein flour creates gluten more readily – dough becomes tough and chewy. If protein content is too low the crust will be too tender and impossible to roll out.
FAT: 1 1/3 cup flour to ½ cup (8 tbl.) butter Fat creates flaky layers, it also creates tenderness as it blocks moisture from being absorbed by the flour. A high fat crust is less likely to become soggy.
LIQUID: Connects the proteins in flour to create necessary gluten formation that holds the dough together. Liquids can also be a source of fat (cream) or acid (buttermilk). Vinegar is often added because of its ability to weaken gluten formation just enough so that the dough becomes much easier to roll out. It also adds and interesting depth of flavor.
SALT: Without salt your crust will taste flat.
BAKING POWDER: 1/8 tsp per cup of flour. Helps to counteract dough’s tendency to shrink. It also lifts, aerates and tenderizes. Adds a mellow flavor if you use a non-SAS powder such as Rumford. Tenderizing happens while baking so there is no fear of increasing the fragility when rolling and working with the dough.

MIXING: Practice Makes PERFECT!
•    Keep ingredients cold
•    Work quickly
•    Keep fat solid and in large flat chunks
•    Cut your butter into equal 1 inch pieces then freeze for 15-30 minutes
•    Sift dry ingredients (can be done with a whisk) produces and more tender and lighter final crust.
•    If using a food processor or stand mixer dough must still be finished by hand to that you can see and feel how the finished product will be.
•    Bring the finished dough together into 1 or 2 (depending on type of pie) 5-6 inch discs. This makes rolling out a lot easier.

: Letting the dough chill out.
The finished dough needs some time in the fridge to chill. This allows the gluten   to relax, the flour absorbs all the moisture and the butter gets nice and cold – ensuring a flaky crust. Dough that rests overnight shrinks less and holds a better shape while baking. At the minimum the dough should rest for 1 hour.

Remove dough from fridge and allow to sit 10-15 minutes or until malleable.
Pound the dough with the rolling pin to flatten it out a bit. Work quickly and with a steady pressure. Lightly flour your work surface. You may apply a light flour coat to the actual dough and to the rolling pin as well. Roll from the center out until the entire thickness is about 1/8 inch. Occasionally you want to lift the dough to ensure that it is not sticking to the rolling surface. If the dough becomes to soft while working it pop it back into the fridge or freezer until firm.

Preventing Soggy Bottoms
Single-layer Crust
•    Pre-bake then brush on a layer of egg whites, preserves or clarified butter
Double-layer Crust
•    Bake on oven floor or pizza stone for 1 hour at 375* or 30 minutes at 425*
•    Pre-heat oven for at least 20 minutes
•    Use a dark, glass or ceramic pie pan
•    Make sure to cut slits in the top crust so the soggy inducing steam has a place to escape
•    Bake in a pre-heated hot oven at first to aid with creating a flaky crust
•    Place a foil or parchment lined pan under the pie pan to catch inevitable drips
•    Cover top crust or border with foil if it is browning too fast
•    Always apply a wash to the top crust before baking. This creates a beautiful golden color and also and nice crisp top. (I use an egg wash that is 1 egg/ 1 yolk then sprinkle the entire top with granulated sugar.
•    For fruit pies, let pie rest on a wire rack until just warm. This way the starch has had a chance to completely gel.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS: Things to remember when creating prize-winning pies
•    Use good quality ingredients, especially high quality butter, as there is a hefty amount in these recipes.
•    Keep your ingredients cold
•    Remember color=flavor
•    Brush off excess flour after rolling as it could have a bitter taste when baked
•    For fruit pies the juices should be bubbling thickly to ensure that the final product will be adequately set
•    If you spray your baking dish lightly with pan spray you should be able to un-mold the entire pie after it has completely cooled


I sincerely apologize for the longest pause in posting in Artisan Sweets history. In the past two months life has drastically changed. From the craziness of catering, baking, mothering and wife-ing of the Summer to all-day sickness, constantly tired and a disdain towards food that comes with being pregnant. That’s right, bun number two is in the oven! I just hit the three month mark so hopefully the sickness and extreme tiredness should start to fade.

My aversion from food has not only limited my time in the kitchen (which was accidentally timed perfectly as the season winded down and left little for me to do in the kitchen) but has also shifted my focus completely off of food as I was unable to watch, read or think about it. Crazy hormones.

My appetite is beginning to perk up and what a perfect time of the year to do so. The Holidays are around the corner and I am starting to gear up for them. I’m dreaming of chocolates and cookies, candies and cakes. I will be selling some of my chocolates and including many delicious sweet treats in gift baskets that will be available at In The Kitchen, Ciao Thyme’s new location. More information to come on this later.

Tomorrow bright and early I am off to L.A. to attend Sherry Yard’s book release party for her new book, Desserts By The Yard (which is available NOW!!) While living in L.A. I had the honor and pleasure of working on this book doing some recipe testing and assisting during some of the photo sessions. So now I am going back to help her celebrate this momentous occasion.

So again thanks for hanging in there with me during these quiet blog days. But I am back and ready for holiday baking and all that comes with it. I will keep you, my lovely readers informed with baby updates for all those interested. Right now not much to report except that baby number two appears to be healthy and growing quite nicely. We will be finding out if we are having a boy or girl but we won’t know that info. for a couple of months.

It is an honor to work with a company that creates food that is both gorgeous and delicious.  With menus that are never repeated and working with people who live for food, I am continually reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of a mini food revolution in our wonderful community.

Thank you to Orangette for her kind words after her wedding that we recently catered and thank you to Ciao Thyme for allowing me to use my creativity under their wings.


The voting for Seattle Bride Magazine Best of 2007 has begun! If you live in the Seattle area or are familiar with my work and feel so inclined, then you are invited to cast your vote online through February 15. This vote also includes best caterer, dj, florist, dress design, venue, and much more.

Here are a few ideas of some of my favorite vendors from the Pacific Northwest. I apologize for the shameless plug – I am working on becoming better at selling myself. Please only take this as a suggestion.

Thanks and happy voting!

Caterer: Ciao Thyme

Dress Design: Steven Moore Designs

Florist: Steven Moore Designs

Coordinator: Steven Moore Designs

Custom Cakes: Ashley E. Rodriguez

Groom’s Cake: Ashley E. Rodriguez

Favors: Ashley E. Rodriguez

Photography: Gabriel Boone Photography

Invitation Design: Dolce Design

Please try and fill out at least half of the entries. As ballots that don’t will not be counted.

If you already voted and did not do this, I just really appreciate the vote and you taking the time to do it. If nothing else it just helps to get our names out there.

Thanks again!!!

Email Me

artisansweets [at] gmail [dot] com

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