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Using just a bit of cold vodka in the crust makes this pie crust one of the easiest to work with. The combination of butter and cold shortening creates the perfect flaky crust. This will soon be your favorite pie crust too!
In a food processor, process 3/4 cup of the flour along with the salt and sugar until combined. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough collects in uneven clumps; about 10 seconds. The dough will resemble cottage cheese, some of the butter and shortening might show, but all the flour should be coated. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to redistribute the dough. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl, about 4 - 6 quick pulses.
Add the vodka and water, and pulse until the dough becomes slightly tacky and sticks together. Remove from the processor and flatten into a 4-inch disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat to 400°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured board or parchment paper (I like to use the parchment and turn it to make the round always rolling from the middle to the outside) to a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Fold into quarters, or roll loosely onto the rolling pin (whichever way works best for you) and unroll (or unfold) into the pie pan. Working around the outside, using one hand to lift the dough while the other hand presses it gently into the pan, ease the dough into the pan, pressing well to the bottom and sides. Cut the overhang to 1/2 inch around, then press it under; the folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pan. Using a thumb and forefinger , flute the edge. Place in freezer 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer and line the crust with foil or parchment paper; fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake 5 minutes more or until lightly browned. Continue with your recipe.
My Mother-In-Law was a great pie maker. Come Thanksgiving she would whip out a pumpkin, pecan and apple pie without breaking a sweat. Work that dough into a perfect round, get it into the pan without nary a tear. It was a sight to behold. I would watch with awe and envy.
I would watch with awe and envy.
I’ve always had a difficult time making a pie crusts. The crusts would break or not roll out properly. Too dry, too wet, too cold, too stiff. I wish I had had more time to learn from Gail, her secrets, and tips, but she passed, so I had to turn to books and magazines and try to muddle through. I know that experience, just doing it over and over, is one of the best ways of learning how to do anything, but to be honest, I don’t make pies that often. Not that I don’t love them, it’s just that they aren’t “skinny me” friendly. But of course, they are a must around the holidays, and in the summertime, and when you are making delicious Bacon Zucchini Quiche, so I thought I’d try to find the best one I could to use on a regular basis. And I did.
This crust is so easy to work with and it’s the addition of vodka that does it…no not in me, in the crust. It keeps it nice, soft, pliable. No tears, no cracks. So it became, Lindy’s FAVORITE Pie Crust.
The recipe has been modified from Cook’s Illustrated‘ 2008 Nov/Dec Issue. And if you know Cook’s Illustrated then you know they did all the science one could possibly do to come up with the “perfect crust”. I only rewrote it slightly, decreasing the vodka from 2 tablespoons to 1, but as they say “Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.”
So if you don’t normally have vodka in your house, and don’t want to start stocking vodka in your house, go to a liquor store and buy a mini bottle of vodka. One use and its use is this crust.
Now you might wonder why I changed Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe. I found 2 tablespoons vodka made the dough TOO soft. And of course, that could be due to many factors including the type of flour used, the relative humidity, or even the heat of the day. So for me, 1 tablespoon is perfect. For you, you might want to try 2 tablespoons Vodka to 1 tablespoon iced water – or as needed.
I also found the method as described in the magazine for adding the vodka and water to the dough was a bit “too complicated and fussy”. I do find Cook’s Illustrated to be a little over the top with their methods. I guess they need it to look very technical, but I prefer easy. Once I make the “dough crumble” and need to add the liquid – just open the chute of the food processor, dump it in and pulse until it comes together in a nice ball. After 8 – 10 pulses, if the dough has not formed, add a tiny bit more water and pulse a few more times. It should be good to go.
Allowing the dough to rest for a while in the refrigerator allows the glutens to relax which makes the dough flakier and more tender. It’s also easier to work with.
When ready to roll the dough out, I have found it easiest to use a pie mat or parchment paper. Since I don’t have a pie mat, I use parchment paper and trace a circle, about 2 inches wider, around the pie dish I’m using. This gives me a visual of how far I need to roll my dough.
You still want to use flour on the paper. Roll from the middle to the outside, turning the paper as you roll, keeping the dough about the same thickness all around. Then use the paper to fold it into fourths which can then be easily transferred to your pan.
This recipe makes 1 pie crust and the instructions are for a filled pie, such as pumpkin or pecan. If you are making a double crust pie, double the recipe and do not pre-bake the crust.
Try it, you’ll like it.
If cooking a filled pie, use pie crust shields or aluminum foil on the crust to keep it from burning.
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