Monday, August 27, 2007

Rubbing Butter in Flour

One of the techniques in baking that every baker must know is the rubbing-in method. Cubes of cold butter is rubbed into the flour using the fingertips (which are the coolest parts of the hand). Rubbing is done quickly and deftly so that the butter does not melt. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. As you can see in the video, I had started off by rubbing-in using my fingertips. But halfway, I got tired and decided to pour everything into a mixing bowl and let the electric mixer do the work for me. And it worked beautifully!! There was no change to the texture or taste of the pineapple tart dough. Note: don’t use the beater attachment (see picture below) because it will cause the flour to fly all over the kitchen!

Creaming vs rubbing-in: Creaming means using a mixer to beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, then add egg, vanilla essence, etc. Fold in the flour then knead lightly to form a dough. Rubbing-in, on the other hand, does not require a mixer. Instead, add cold butter cubes into flour, rub till ‘breadcrumbs’ are formed, then add egg, etc. Then knead lightly to form a dough.

'Breadcrumbs': Well, the problem with using the rubbing-in method in a pineapple tart recipe, is that no ‘breadcrumbs’ are formed!! The recipe requires so much butter to be used, that halfway through rubbing-in, a sticky mass of dough starts to form. And my fingers start to get all messy and sticky. That is why chilling the dough in the fridge is a necessary step because it helps to firm up the dough and make it easy to handle.

In the picture above, the beater attachment on the left is used in the creaming method while the dough hooks (on the right) are the ones I used in place of the rubbing-in method. (Actually, these dough hooks are used for kneading bread dough.)

For the pineapple tart dough in the video, I used the recipe taken from my book 'Delicious Asian Sweet Treats'


Angela said...

Hi Oi Lin

Help~ I am making the Tangerine Style tart.

Previously I used the creaming method and realized the end product always spreads.
Today I tried the rubbing-in method, it's great as it does not spread!

However, handling the dough is really tough.
It was so sticky that I had to set it in the fridge every 15 - 20 minutes...

I even had the air conditioner turned on thinking the weather was a possible cause...

I used the electric mixer to knead the dough.(Could I have over knead it?)

Any tips to advise?

Many Thanks!!!

Oi Lin said...

Hi Angela,
Yes, for dough that is made from rubbing-in method, it will not spread as much during baking. But if you still prefer the creaming method, and you find the dough too sticky, you can always sprinkle flour on it, spread and pat it, so that the surface of the dough is smooth and less sticky.
It is best not to overknead the dough as this will make the pastry tough and hard after baking. It is a good idea to put part of the dough in the fridge while you are working with the other half. That is the 'price' for using a high-butter content dough - a bit difficult to handle, but it produces oh so buttery and delicious pastry!