Baker Kim Kral closely guards her exact pastry recipe, but she combines flour and ice-cold butter by hand, food processor or bench knife, for a flaky crust and then rolls it out. PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Baker shows how to achieve light, flaky crust



STONINGTON — Classically trained baker Kim Kral is turning out countless savory and sweet hand pies and galettes this summer at her bakery, Basic Kneads.

Kral has made a leek and goat cheese puree with potatoes, bacon and thyme hand pie as well as a spinach, feta and mushroom. A cheeseburger hand pie, which included ketchup and mustard, onion and pickles with ground beef, was another hit for the Fourth of July. She’s made pies filled with garlic-scape pesto with carrots as well as a buffalo chicken version with bleu cheese and provolone.

“I just like playing around with different fillings and finding out what works,” she recently said. Both her savory and sweet fruit pies are being snapped up every Friday usually before noon when the Stonington Farmers Market closes.

Baker Kim Kral shows a blueberry galette, which she sells at the Stonington Farmers Market on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon. Arrive early, a line soon forms and she sells out. PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN
Baker Kim Kral shows a blueberry galette, which she sells at the Stonington Farmers Market on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon. Arrive early, a line soon forms and she sells out.
PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

If you would like to learn the magic behind Kral’s flaky, tender crusts, she’s teaching a cooking class on berry galettes from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22, at the Island Community Center in Stonington. Edible Island, a nonprofit culinary and ecological center, is hosting the class.

Kral says that anyone can make a good pastry, but the key is starting with cold ingredients.

“You want your butter to be really cold,” Kral said. “You want your water to be really cold.” “If your butter is warm, it will blend into the dough too much,” she said.

She cuts the butter into small pieces and them dusts them with flour. Those pea-sized bits of butter will melt as the pastry bakes, creating the desired flakiness. To make the crust, you can use a food processor, two forks, or a pastry blender. Kral prefers a bench knife. She hasn’t met a pastry blender that doesn’t get bits of butter and dough stuck between the tines.

“You can even get in there with your hands as well and break up the butter if you feel like you don’t have control with the bench knife,” she said.

You can mix the pastry dough in a bowl or the chef’s way on a countertop. Kral makes lots of crusts at a time so there isn’t a bowl large enough.

The first step is combining the flour and butter together. Then make a well in the middle of the mixture to pour in the cold water. “You can use your bench knife to scrape it together,” she said. Or use your hands, but be careful not to overwork the dough. That’s when you end up with a tough pastry.

Kim Kral likes to use a bench knife to cut the butter into small pieces that are dusted with flour. “You want your butter to be really cold. You want your water to be really cold. If your butter is warm, it will blend into the dough too much,” she said.  PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN
Kim Kral likes to use a bench knife to cut the butter into small pieces that are dusted with flour. “You want your butter to be really cold. You want your water to be really cold. If your butter is warm, it will blend into the dough too much,” she said.
PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

“There’s this happy medium you need to find,” Kral said. “You just want to get all the flour hydrated. That’s the key.”

The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before forming it into a crust, galette or hand pie. Another tip: when you bake the crusts, you want them to be “extremely cold” when they go in the oven, she said.

Kral studied at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and had internships at Portland’s Standard Baking Co. and at Red Hen Baking Co. in Montpelier, Vt. She bakes all the bread, including focaccia and flatbread, at her parents’ shop, Water’s Edge Wines in Stonington where her partner, Charlie Anderson, is chef.

Water’s Edge Wines serves lunch Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Recent sandwich offerings included a caprese with mozzarella, tomato, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on rosemary bread.

Another combo is roast beef with a horseradish/Worcestershire sauce, compound butter with pea shoots, red onion topped with lemon vinaigrette on brioche buns.

Berry galettes

Kim Kral will teach how to make crust for pies, galettes and other summer desserts from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22, at the Island Community Center in Stonington. The cost is $50 per person and includes a light dinner. To sign up, call 367-5888 and visit www.edibleisland.org

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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