(Note: I didn’t take how-to photos because I made the dough late at night and baked it early in the morning–not enough light. And because there’s already a great how-to over at Smitten Kitchen.)
I remember first hearing about the “Foolproof Pie Dough” with the secret ingredient–Vodka. It sounded crazy until I really thought about it. Of course! Why hadn’t anyone else ever thought of it before?
This year, I got brave and made my own pie dough for Thanksgiving. Usually I buy the prerolled Pillsbury dough because: a) it’s easy, b) my pie crusts have never been great, and c) because like I said, it’s easy.
The Foolproof Pie Dough is by far the best pie dough I’ve ever worked with. It came together super easy in the food processor. Rolling it out was a snap. The only thing I found that was even more helpful was chilling it between each step–even after I put it in the pie plate, I chilled it before making a decorative edge.
When I blind baked the crust for my Thanksgiving Twofer Pies, it didn’t shrink. (The edges did burn a bit–my fault.)
When I baked it along with the filling for the Oatmeal Pecan Pie, the edges puffed up beautifully and didn’t get too overdone.
I’m a believer in this crust! Oh, yes. I don’t think I’ll be making any other.
It practically “shattered”. The true test of a good pie crust.
The Vodka did make for some interesting fumes in the oven when I opened it up to check on the pies. (Just so you know.)
Cooks’ Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough
Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie
The trick to this pie crust is the inclusion of vodka. Eighty-proof vodka, which is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, adds moistness to the dough without aiding in gluten formation since gluten doesn’t form in ethanol. Although the recipe includes 8 tablespoons of liquid, the alcohol vaporizes during baking, resulting in a tender crust that only contains 6 1/2 tablespoons of water. Because of the extra liquid, the dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require up to 1/4 cup more flour.
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
1. 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 homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). 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.
2. 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. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.