My mother and grandmother could roll out pie dough like nobody’s business. Light, flaky, perfectly delicious. This pie-dough-making gene was not one they passed along to me.
I can make pie dough that would probably score a B+, but it requires a lot of work and effort and I hate doing it. So I don’t.
The other day I happened across a recipe for pie crust and had to try it. It called out to me, screaming “Make me, Make me!”
So I invited my BFF, Miz Sunshine, over for a day of pie baking and laughs. She was new to the whole pie baking from scratch scenario and I was a bit out of practice, so it proved to be a good learning experience for us both. And we laughed – a lot – which is always, always a good thing.
The pie dough turned out marvelously light and flaky with a wonderful taste and texture. And… here is the best part, hold on to your hats… it wasn’t hard to make or roll out and get into the pan.
The secret to this simple and delicious crust is vodka. That’s right … a bottle of booze makes all the difference in the world. (Please note, there is no consuming the vodka as a beverage involved in this recipe!). For those concerned about consuming alcohol, the vodka evaporates in the oven. That is what makes the crust so light and flaky while making it easy to handle. The extra moisture while you are rolling out the dough makes it pliable and no problem to get into the pan. Then Poof! the vodka disappears while baking to leave behind a very tasty crust.
Vodka Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble coarse crumbs ). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
If, like me, you do not have a food processor, get ready to apply some arm muscle and work the dough together with either a fork or pastry cutter until all flour is mixed in and it is crumbly.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Generously flour a clean, flat surface and your rolling pin. Divide dough in half and roll out one half, turning dough over between rolls to keep from sticking to counter or surface. Place in a pie pan and fill with favorite filling or prick with a fork and bake shell until golden brown then fill.
From the no-longer pie-crust challenged baker