August 21, 2012

Perfect Pie Dough


Is it bad that it's only Tuesday and I am wishing it was Friday???  This week my son's school decided to hold "pre-season" soccer practices from 6:30AM to 10:30AM EVERYDAY!  Now for those of you city people that may not seem like a big deal, however for those of us that live out in the country it really makes for a ruff morning.  See his school is 20 minutes away (with no traffic and if road conditions are OK) and they have to be there at 6:20am AND I stop to pick up one of his friends on the way....oh wait, I left out the part where I have to get up at 5:20am to hop in the shower!  We leave at 5:45am to pick up his friend, and after I drop them off I have to go all the way back home to get ready for work, THEN drive another half hour to work........ummmmm, I think someone forgot to tell the coaches that a lot of these kids don't drive yet!!!!  Needless to say, please be a little lenient if my posts later in the week are a little short and sweet, or if they have a lot of run-on sentences and lots of mis-spelled words!

OK, I'm done complaining.  Now on to pie dough.  I have to start by saying that I have used the same pie dough recipe for a loooonnng time and it's always been perfect (click here for recipe), and I have never felt the need to look elsewhere.  I have never even been tempted to try a different recipe....until recently.  This past year I got a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine, and in it they talk in length about this pie dough recipe where they use Vodka in it.  Intriguing right?  I won't get into all the science behind, but the gist of it is that the Vodka allows you to add more liquid without (making it a more tender dough) while not making it tough when it bakes.  I will admit that I was skeptical that it would be better than my pie dough, but I had to give it a try....you know, to test out their theory.

Well, as much as it pains me to say it, they were right.  The Vodka made a big difference in the dough, and in the end I have to admit it really is better than my recipe.  The dough is perfectly tender and flaky all at the same time, and that is not always an easy thing to accomplish.  So, hats off to Cook's Illustrated for getting this one right....I just might have to use this as my go to pie dough recipe from now on.


Perfect Pie Dough (by Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (they said it should be cold, but I didn't bother chilling mine)
1/4 cup cold Vodka
1/4 cup cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups four, salt, and sugar until combined.  Add the butter & shortening and process until clumps that look like cottage cheese start to form, about 15 seconds.  Add remaining flour and pulse 4-6 times, or until mixture has been broken up.  

Place mixture into another bowl and add the Vodka and water.  With a rubber spatula mix by folding the liquid into the dough, pressing down as you go until dough sticks together.  Divide into 2 even disks, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before using - this is important because this is a pretty wet dough and you will have a hard time rolling it out if you don't refrigerate it first.  Dough can also be frozen for later use.  Makes one 9" double pie crust.

37 comments:

  1. Looking forward to trying this recipe when I make my apple pies this Fall! Thanks for the tip :)

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    1. I know, I thought the same thing. If you are familiar with Cook's Illustrated, they go into great detail as to why this works. You should definitely try it. I keep at least one vodka "nip" bottle in my freezer at all times now - it's exactly a 1/4 cup. Good luck!

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  3. I hear you about the travel time to get somewhere. We live in the country and my daughter dances competitive in a studio that 35 minutes away on a good day, we've had some very early mornings and late evenings. Don't get me started on the drive in the winter :) I'm trying this pastry this weekend, I have some peaches just waiting to be made into a pie. I'll have to watch though, my daughter likes to sneak pastry to nibble on, me I think it's gross but she likes it. She might get a little tipsy :)

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    1. That's funny - I like eating raw dough too! But you may want to limit her intake with this one :) I also made a peach pie....I'll be posting it tomorrow. If you think of it, let me know what you thought of the dough after you try it. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. I might just have to give this a go against MY favorite pie dough recipe =) I look at it as an excuse to just keep making pies!

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    1. I highly encourage you to try it. I've been on a kick lately to prove (to myself) that Cook's Illustrated recipes aren't necessarily "the best", however they got it right with this one. Try it and if you think of it, send another comment to let me know what you thought of it. Good luck!

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  5. I tried tonight and it was just terrible to roll. I ended patting it out like biscuit dough. BUT it is really flaky and good and I don't even like the crust usually. Yay

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  6. Is it supposed to be so wet and sticky? I've never seen crust that was this wet!

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    1. It is wetter than most pie doughs, but it should be OK to work with after you refrigerate it.

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    2. Thanks for your reply! It was much better after refrigeration, and it turned out amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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    3. Phew - I'm so glad it worked out! I should probably make a little note in the recipe letting everyone know it is a pretty wet dough, but works out in the end. Glad you liked it!

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  7. This might be a silly question but I was wondering if I roll it out before or after refrigerating it for 45 minutes . I have attempted and failed a kazillion times at making pie crust. I really want to make this (and succeed). :-)

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    1. There's no such thing as a silly question! You roll it out AFTER refrigerating it. You gather the dough up and shape it into a ball, then divide it into two. Shape each half into a "disk", meaning it's round but flat, then wrap each disk in plastic and put it in the refrigerator. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions & good luck!

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  8. Started using this recipe when Cook's Illustrated published it. It is truly a "NO FAIL" recipe for pie crust. Rolls out perfectly after letting it refrigerate the recommended time. I keep a jelly jar of vodka in the freezer as well as my Crisco bar (neither one freezes solid) so they are very cold when I use them. I highly recommend this recipe!

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  9. I love this!! I will have to try this soon! Thanks for the tip.

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  10. Great, I love the vodka thing ;) !

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  11. Hi,

    I'd love to feature this recipe on HuffPost Taste. Can we post the photo with your permission?

    Thanks!

    Joseph.Erdos@huffingtonpost.com

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    1. Hi Joseph! Thank you for your interest in using my photo. That would be OK with me as long as you credit it to me/my blog: www.littlebcooks.blogspot.com.

      Thank you for asking permission. Not everyone out there does that!

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  12. Do you have to cook the crust before you make your pie? Or can you just add the filling and pop it into the oven?

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    1. Well, I guess that depends on what kind of pie you are making. If you are making an apple/fruit pie then you do not pre-cook the crust. If you are making a pie with a custard filling then you would cook the crust first then add your filling. I would follow the directions for whatever kind of pie you are making in regards to the crust.

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    2. So for a pumpkin pie would you cook the crust first?

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    3. No. Add your filling and cook it all together. Good luck & Happy Thanksgiving!

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  13. Whst temp and hoe long do i cook for if im doing a choc cream pie

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    1. For a chocolate cream pie you would line your pie plate with the dough, cover and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425, piece the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork (this is to prevent air bubbles from forming) then line the crust with tin foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans, and make sure they are spread completely over the bottom and up the sides a little. Reduce oven temp to 400 then place pie plate in oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool completely before adding your filling.

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  14. If I don't have a food processor (I know.....I'm archaic!) can I make this the "old fashioned" way?

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    1. While I can't say with 100% certainty (because I haven't tried it myself) that it'll turn out the same, I don't see why it wouldn't. I would definitely try it. Until this recipe I always blended my doughs by hand, so I say give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and I hope it works out for you :)

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  15. This was amazing! I made homemade chicken pot pie.

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  16. Oh, I am so happy to hear it worked for chicken pot pie as well! Thank you commenting & visiting ☺

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  17. I've put together a round up of 13 Ways to use your food processor & 20 recipes to prove it. I've included your post in the collection, thanks for the great recipe!
    http://amandascookin.com/2013/03/the-food-processor-13-ways-to-use-it-20-recipes-to-prove-it.html

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  18. Does the pie crust taste like vodka at all

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  19. have been looking for a good pie dough recipe thank you but why vodka? what does it do?

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    1. According to Cook's Illustrated, the vodka helps to moisten the dough without using extra water. Too much water will make too much gluten, which makes for tough dough. The ethanol in the vodka allows moisture without it forming more gluten (gluten does not form in ethanol).

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  20. Hi, I see you are in Vermont where butter is sold in 'sticks' (not so here in Australia). What is the gram weight of a butter stick please?

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    1. Sorry about that! I don't know the gram weight, but 1 1/2 sticks of butter = 3/4 cup. Hope that helps!

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  21. Can I use salted butter?

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