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The science behind making the perfect pie crust

Narrator:                  This is Science Today. Food is a big part of the holiday season, whether it's preparing it or just enjoying it. One of the staples of the holiday table is pie and while you may have Grandma's recipe for the perfect crust, do you really know what goes on at a molecular level? UCLA graduate student Liz Roth-Johnson is part of the Science and Food Program, which teaches students about biology and physics through food.

Roth-Johnson:          Everybody has their own idea of a perfect pie crust, but I think most people agree that a pie crust should not be tough and chewy, so to achieve that, it's important to try to avoid overdeveloping these stretchy, springy protein networks that can form in flour dough, it's gluten networks. And so what happens when flour gets wet and gets worked, special proteins in the flour called gliadins and glutenins start to stretch out and stick to each other and make these really stretchy networks, which is great for something like bread or a bagel, but not so good for a delicate pastry or a cake.

Narrator:                   Roth-Johnson suggests limiting how much water you add and using a pastry flour to lessen the amount of gluten. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.