It must be pie season as pie questions have reached a critical mass level in my Inbox over the last two weeks. Some questions are random requests but one in particular has been repeated.
"Why do I have to chill my pie dough before I roll it out. After I chill it, it's too hard to work with?"
Yes, like many things we do in the kitchen, some don't seem to have a purpose; seeming more like a waste of time. And during the holiday season, we are all in a hurry...waiting an hour for pie dough to chill feels like a time warp, especially since we have to wait 10 minutes after the chilling process to make it pliable enough to roll out again!
Well, believe it or not, there is reason to chill the dough, and the reasons are important for maintaining that flaky crust we all look forward to eating. It all has to do with gluten and moisture. By chilling the dough before rolling it out, we allow the present gluten strands time to settle down and relax. This actually makes your pastry dough easier to roll out and cuts down on any shrinking during the baking process. Chilling also lets the available moisture find its way back into all parts of the dough. Something that is hard to achieve while you are mixing the dough together.
Overall, letting the dough rest in the fridge for one hour before rolling it out is a win-win situation with a purpose.
So happy pie baking and make sure to give your dough the time it needs.