Since You Asked: Ingredients are key to a flaky crust

I only make pies for holidays and use Pillsbury prerolled pie crust. My bottom crust always seems to be doughy rather than dry and flaky. I make apple pie, cherry pie and pumpkin chiffon (cooked pumpkin filling poured into a prebaked crust). Any hints?

— Debbie D., Ashland

Because you have the same problem will all these pies, regardless of the recipe, we're going to venture it's the crust, itself, rather than how you're handling it.

Local baking expert Rebecca Hill agrees with us.

"The flakiness is going to come from what's in your dough," says the owner of Sweet Stuff boutique in downtown Medford.

Fat, says Hill, equates flakiness. That's why her pie-crust recipe contains butter plus an egg yolk. Make sure your crust is as flaky as it can be by chilling it well, handling it as little as possible and getting the still-cold dough to a hot oven.

We'll admit to using premade crust in a hurry, but if you bake just a couple times a year and want perfect crust, buck up and make it yourself. It's not so onerous, says Hill, if you make several batches when you have time and freeze them for when you don't. Her recipe below freezes well and is designed to mix in a food processor.

In a food-processor bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Cut 1 stick plus 2 and 2/3 tablespoons cold butter into bits. Add to processor bowl and pulse until small flakes form. In a small bowl, mix 1 extra-large egg yolk with 3 tablespoons cold water. With processor running, pour mixture into dough and process until dough forms a ball. If it's too crumbly, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and process. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 20 minutes before using.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to

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