Chef Dez.

On Cooking: Holiday baking tips

It is best to keep pie pastry as cold possible.

Nothing compares to the aroma of baked Christmas goodies when coming in from the cold winter weather.

Our olfactory sensations (our sense of smell) contribute up to 80 per cent to our sense of taste, thus is an important part of our ability to recognize and enjoy flavour.

Flaky pie dough is a pastry that has a mixture of shortening and/or butter that is “cut in” so that there are small chunks still left in the finished product. This aids in creating steam pockets within the crust, which helps with the leavening process and, thus, creating the flaky texture.

It is best to keep pie pastry as cold possible while mixing and rolling to prevent melting the butter and shortening pieces prematurely.

The best way of doing this is to first focus on your ingredients. Make sure you are using ice water (water from the fridge) instead of cold water, and frozen butter grated into the flour mixture is ideal. The frozen butter particles then are already the required size from the grater and will not suffer from the warm friction of too much mixing or “cutting” in.

Secondly, try not to touch the dough with your hands too much as the warmth from them will melt the butter. It is best to form the dough by folding it over consistently with a chilled metal dough cutter (or called a bench scraper).

Once the dough is formed into a flat disk, wrap and place it in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Remove and proceed with rolling, ideally on a chilled marble surface.

Overworking flour with liquid will create more gluten and, thus, a tougher more structured dough.

Use baking soda or powder.

Happy holidays.

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