20 January 2011

Vodka Pie Crust

I keep getting asked about the vodka pie crust I always use to make pie, so here it is. Before discovering this recipe, I always had trouble with pie crusts - they would be too dry and fall apart when I rolled them out, or too wet and end up undercooked. Adding vodka to the dough means you can keep it moist enough to be easy to work with, but still end up with a perfectly light and flaky crust when the alcohol bakes out.

This is a double-crust recipe, which I originally got at Smitten Kitchen. That site has lovely photos and a step-by-step tutorial, but it is rather lengthy and complicated. And the whole point of the vodka crust is that it is easy! Here's how I do it:

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter, cut into little pieces
1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (I prefer butter-flavored Crisco)
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup vodka

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in the butter and shortening. If you don't have a pastry cutter, your fingertips are the next best tool for this job. Just combine until the butter is reduced to pea-sized clumps.

Sprinkle the water and vodka over the dough and lightly stir it together just until you can form it into a ball. If the dough seems too dry and crumbly, add another splash of vodka until it seems workable. The butter should not be evenly distributed; the clumps you see in the dough will melt when baked and create those tender flakes that make a good pie crust so tasty. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate it for at least half an hour before rolling it out for a pie. You can leave it in the fridge for a day or so, or in the freezer for... longer. When it is formed into a pie and baked, it will be buttery and flaky and oh so delicious!

Note: For a while I had the recipe memorized incorrectly, and used a whole cup of shortening in stead of 1/2 cup. The crust still turned out fine, with no discernible difference in taste. I went back to 1/2 cup after I realized the mistake, because I suppose I don't really need extra fat in my desserts, but I took two lessons from it.
1. Pie crust is not an exact science, so don't worry about it too much!
2. Extra butter or shortening never hurt anything.

Go forth and make pie!

No comments:

Post a Comment