Difference between pie and strudel

In learning to make apple strudel, I came across 2 methods : the classic Austrian recipe and the puff pastry method.

In the classic Austrian/ Viennese  method, the flour” butter ratio is about 3:1 . I have seen some recipes with 10:1 ratio of flour to butter or oil but subsequently more butter is spread on the dough. To this dough is added 1 egg and water where the ratio of flour “water is 2:1.  The resting period in between the rolling and folding helps the dough absorb the oil. The dough is then stretched out very thin on a bedsheet until translucent, about 0.8 m x 1.2 m. I use a silicon sheet as it is non-stick. I suspect what keeps the rolled layers of dough from baking into together 1 thick crust is the butter that is spread over and bread crumbs and sugar that is sprinkled thinly over the dough just before rolling it.  Chef here explains that the butter spread on the thin dough keeps the layers apart. The result is more crusty and crunchy.

In the puff pastry method, the ratio of flour to butter is 2:1 so there is a whole lot more butter. To create the thin layers of flaky pastry, frozen butter is placed between layers of plain dough. The multiple layers of plain dough is alternated with butter. Because there is more butter, the result is more crispy thin flakes.

Nutritionist will tell us that butter is high in calories and is about 80% fat – mostly the unhealthy saturated fats which causes higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Danish dough contains eggs and more butter than the croissant dough and that is the reason why sometimes croissant dough is referred to as lean dough. Here is an article that discusses the differences.

This pastry school explains the differences between PUFF pastry, FLAKY pastry, CHOUX pastry, SHORTCRUST dough and PHYLLO dough.


Puff Pastry

Best known for being flaky and light, puff pastry is a kind of unleavened dough. It is formed by many different layers (mostly of fat, such as butter). In French, the culinary term for puff pastry is pâte feuilletée, where the verb feuilleter means “to leaf through.”

While the French croissant is also a flaky pastry, its base is not typical puff pastry dough. Rather, croissant dough is leavened, meaning it contains yeast, which causes it to rise.

Flaky Pastry

Also of note: flaky pastry dough is technically not the same thing as puff pastry dough. In the case of puff pastry dough, the layers are even and thus are more puffed (more air gets between the layers). In flaky pastry dough, there are chunks or lumps of fat (butter, lard) separating bits and pieces of dough, rather than full layers of fat separating layers of pastry dough.

Choux Pastry

This type of pastry dough, called pâte à choux in French, is made from eggs, butter, flour, and water. There is no leavening agent on its ingredient list because the cooking technique for this dough puffs the pastry through the use of steam. Choux pastry is the base of such French pâtisseries as éclairs, profiteroles, croquembouches, and beignets. Such desserts are often filled with cream and/or topped or covered in chocolate.

Shortcrust Dough

Shortcrust is the type of dough used to make pies and tarts. It is the simplest pastry dough to make; it’s ingredients are: flour, fat (butter, lard), water, and salt. Note that sugar is not among the base ingredients for shortcrust pastry, meaning that this type of dough is used for both savory and sweet items. When sugar is added to the dough mixture, the result is often called sweetcrust pastry.

Phyllo Dough

Phyllo dough (or Filo dough, Fillo dough) is sometimes mistaken for a variant of puff pastry. Unlike puff pastry dough, however, phyllo dough consists of a layering of extremely thin or paper-thin sheets of dough. These dough sheets are not separated by fat, like in the case of puff pastry dough.” UNQUOTE

Here is a video by BBC Good Food on how to make shortcrust pastry.

Proportions for shortcrust pastry: 200:100:40                                                                                200g plain white flour                                                                                                                             100g butter (at a cool room temperature 15-20 degrees C)                                                                  About 40ml (3 tablespoons) cold water, a bit at a time.

The Science of Pie Dough by Kenji has excellent explanation

The Kitchn – Anatomy of a pie crust :

Fat: You can use butter, vegetable shortening, lard, or even oil in pie crust, each to a different effect. Butter provides the most flavor and a wonderful melting quality in the mouth, but it tends to not make the most tender pastry. Shortening and lard make a very tender pastry, but don’t always have the best flavor for a sweet pie.If your butter (which I prefer over lard or shortening—see tip #3) gets too warm, it’ll end up mixing with the gluten layers, and rather than forming distinct flakes, you’ll end up with a single, greasy, shortbread-like crust. Keep it chilled and then chill it again between foldings.

Also, if the fat is left in large pieces, the crust will be more flaky. If it’s incorporated into the flower more thoroughly, the crust will be tender and crumbly.

Liquid: The liquid in a pie crust creates the steam that lifts the pastry and creates flakes. It also gets absorbed into the flour, helping to create gluten. Too little liquid and the dough won’t hold together, but add too much and you’ll end up with a rock-hard crust!


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