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Best Pie Dough

This recipe makes the best pie crust you’ll ever taste.  It is tender, yet buttery and flaky.  This is achieved in two ways.  First, the dough has both butter and shortening.  The butter adds flavor, and the shortening makes the crust flaky. Second, some of the water in the dough is replaced with vodka.  

Why vodka?  When you add water to flour and knead it, it creates gluten.  Gluten is the elastic strands created in dough that give bread its wonderful structure. However, what is good for bread is not good for pie dough.  You don’t want gluten in flaky pastries. Vodka helps prevent the formation of gluten in pie dough, as vodka is only about 60% water.  The rest, obviously, is alcohol.  Alcohol does not create gluten when mixed with flour. Therefore, a crust made with vodka will be flakier than one made with water alone.  If you are concerned about the dough tasting of alcohol, don’t be! First, vodka is flavorless.  Second, the alcohol will bake off when the crust and pie bake.  This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.

Note:  This recipe makes enough dough for a single crust pie.  Double the recipe to create dough for a double-crust pie.  Also, if you are making a double-crust pie, create two disks before refrigerating.

Amateur Tip (Yes, this is the opposite of a pro tip):  I never seem to be able to roll out pie dough to the right size to fit the pie pan.  Therefore, I make 1 1/2 times the dough in the recipe below.  If you are like me, try doing this, and you won’t have any issues with not having enough pie dough.

Ingredients

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1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
tablespoon sugar
tablespoons cold unsalted butter (¾ stick), cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces (Storing your shortening in the refrigerator will ensure it is cold enough.)
tablespoons vodka, cold (Storing your vodka in the freezer will ensure it will be ice-cold.)
tablespoons cold water

Instructions

Add 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor.

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Process until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.

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Add butter and shortening.

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Process for 15 seconds.  Dough will resemble cottage cheese and there will be no uncoated dough.

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Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.

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Empty mixture into medium bowl.

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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.

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Flatten dough into 4-inch disk (Note: If you have doubled the recipe because you are making a double-crust pie, split the dough into two equal amounts and flatten each half into a 4-inch disk.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

 

Best Pie Dough
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Goods
 
This recipe makes the best pie crust you'll ever taste. It is tender, yet buttery and flaky. This is achieved in two ways. First, the dough has both butter and shortening. The butter adds flavor, and the shortening makes the crust flaky. Second, some of the water in the dough is replaced with vodka. Why vodka? When you add water to flour and knead it, it creates gluten. Gluten is the elastic strands created in dough that give bread its wonderful structure. However, what is good for bread is not good for pie dough. You don't want gluten in flaky pastries. Vodka helps prevent the formation of gluten in pie dough, as vodka is only about 60% water. The rest, obviously, is alcohol. Alcohol does not create gluten when mixed with flour. Therefore, a crust made with vodka will be flakier than one made with water alone. If you are concerned about the dough tasting of alcohol, don't be! First, vodka is flavorless. Second, the vodka will bake off when the crust and pie bake. This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated. Note: This recipe makes enough dough for a single crust pie. Double the recipe to create dough for a double-crust pie. Also, if you are making a double-crust pie, create two disks before refrigerating. Amateur Tip (Yes, this is the opposite of a pro tip): I never seem to be able to roll out pie dough to the right size to fit the pie pan. Therefore, I make 1½ times the dough in the recipe below. If you are like me, try doing this, and you won't have any issues with not having enough pie dough.
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (¾ stick), cut into ¼-inch slices
  • ¼ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces (Storing your shortening in the refrigerator will ensure it is cold enough.)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, cold (Storing your vodka in the freezer will ensure it will be ice-cold.)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
Instructions
  1. Add ¾ cup flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor.
  2. Process until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.
  3. Add butter and shortening.
  4. Process for 15 seconds. Dough will resemble cottage cheese and there will be no uncoated dough.
  5. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.
  6. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  7. 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.
  8. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk (Note: If you have doubled the recipe because you are making a double-crust pie, split the dough into two equal amounts and flatten each half into a 4-inch disk.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

About Daddy

I am a husband and a father of two kids with whom I love to cook and eat. In this blog, I hope to share with you not only some of my, as well as my family’s, favorite recipes, but also some interesting things I have learned or done as a husband, father, and cook.

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