no microwave; suggestions needed...

i saw this pie crust on christopher kimball’s new show and was intrigued. found the recipe. here’s my problem: the recipe calls for the cornstarch mixture to be heated in the microwave for 5 seconds and i don’t have a microwave. i googled microwave conversions, but nothing was helpful.

would welcome any suggestions. thanks in advance.

What reason does he give for that instruction?

It’s probably to get it to form a slurry.

You can do the same thing by using really hot water and a whisk in a small pan.

1 Like

the overall idea is to reduce gluten formation, eliminate the need to guess how much water to add.


intesting that although this recipe is included in the milk street cookbook, which came out late last year, no seems to have tried this recipe – at least, i haven’t been able to find any comments online.

I can’t get the link to open.

But 5 seconds in a microwave (even a very powerful one) won’t heat the water that much. So it is hard to guess why they recommend this. Does it say to start with cold/hot/boiling water when mixing in the corn starch? 5 seconds MIGHT bring from temp water up a few degrees but not much more. It would seem like just using hot tap water would accomplish the same thing but without seeeing the whole recipe that is just a guess.


i tried the link and it was fine. not sure why it didn’t work for you.

pie crust recipe

what’s interesting is that after dissolving the cornstarch and water, the mixture is frozen for 10 minutes, then added to the flour, sugar and salt already in the food processor. after the cornstarch is distributed, cold butter and 2 tablespoons of sour cream are added. when mixed, they form the dough. this is a completely different way of making pie dough.

oh, when i reread the recipe, i realized that the cornstarch slurry was supposed to be microwaved 30-40 seconds.

So what I think he is doing here isn’t really “disolving” the cornstarch but “exploding” the starch molecules to create a gel. Essentially you are “thickening” water in the same way you could use cornstarch to thicken a sauce.

I’ve never tried the recipe but would be curious how it works.

Without a microwave you could either heat on the stove or - take the total amount of water, use some cold to dissolve the starch and then add the remaining amount boiling. This should accomplish the same gelling. The only hiccup I can see would be accidentally boiling the water (or combo) too long, thus reducing the water content in the overall recipe.

A similar process is used to make home-made gel icings for cakes.

I think the freezer time is just to quick chill the gel (which can actually “super heat” in a microwave) so it doesn’t melt the fat in the crust.

Curious how it works!

1 Like

Someone needs to make this, because it sounds very over-fussy to me. I’m curious whether it makes any discernible difference to the crust.

1 Like

i should wait for an occasion (too tempting if i don’t:). so it might be thanksgiving. if anyone else tries it sooner, please post results.

Everything that goes into a pie crust needs to be cold before you roll it for the pastry to be flaky.

If it comes hot out of the oven you will need to chill it.

I made this pie crust for I class I had to teach. Pie crust is the one baked good I do fairly well. I thought it was just fair. Certainly not worth the hype.

My go-to pie crust is Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Basic Flaky Pie Crust from The Pie and Pastry Bible. It works for me every time.


thanks for letting us know.

1 Like

Any time!

In Sweden and Denmark a good pie crust is invariably made with good flour, butter, and a little water.

Nothing else, except maybe a pinch of salt if the butter was unsalted.

For one pie crust.

4 dl Wheat Flour
200 gm butter
1/2 dl Water

Pile butter on the baking board. Cut cold butter into the flour with a long knife. Make a divot in the middle and add the water. Incorporate quickly and knead together. Let rest at least 15 minutes in the fridge, or longer if possible, before rolling.

It literally takes 10 minutes to make, 30 minutes to chill, and 5 minutes to roll it out, and it is the BEST pie crust EVER.

Btw, Sweden is famous for lots of savoury as well as fruit pies.

Milk street television Season 1 Episode 2 “the new baking” on PBS (recipe for brown sugar tart - watching it now.

Yes, the end result is a gelled mass. It is such a small amount which makes things tricky. I don’t know what would happen if you boiled water, measured the 3 Tbs water and added the boiling water directly to the corn starch while whisking - it may just clump but may not. I’d give that a try on its own and see if you get a gell in the end. If that works then problem solved.

The logic is based on Japanese milk bread which using some boiling water added to the flour. This binds the water resulting in a more moist bread. The thought in the pie dough being that it also lessons the interaction of the water with the flour to retard gluten development. The dough was described as play-dough feeling when rolling out.


just tried this and it worked! dribbled the boiling water in slowly, whisking continuously. the mixture was perfectly smooth.


Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr