Vodka pie crust (apple pie)

November 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’m on pie duty this year for Thanksgiving – one apple, one pumpkin.  Obviously I’ll be making Mom’s famous apple pie, but this year I decided to forego pre-made pie crust and make my own.  Scandal!  Since I’m not a pie crust pro, I decided to google recipes that included terms like ‘foolproof’ and ‘easy’.

Fresh baked apple VODKA pie

Fresh baked apple VODKA pie

Of course it led me to a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  I was pretty much convinced by that fact alone, but then I realized it called for vodka – SOLD!

The #1 seller in Poland!

The #1 seller in Poland!

After all was said and done, this dough was pretty tricky to roll out, and caused some stress to this newbie pie crust maker.  It tasted nice – if you got big piece of crust it tasted almost like a croissant – but I’m not sure it’s worth the trepidation, especially when Pillsbury makes such excellent pie crust (in your grocer’s refrigerated section, near the butter!).  Because I’m not sure if the difficulty rolling was due to the fact that I boldly veered off-track by using all butter (it probably was, seems like shortening would make the dough more pliable), I will be sure to try again with shortening.  For research purposes only. 🙂

RECIPE (from here)


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp table salt (you may have to adjust amounts if you use kosher salt – or, just don’t use kosher salt)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 12 Tbsp cold butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces (Shortening creeps me out, so replaced this with more butter – that is, another stick of butter.   For a grand total of 2.5 sticks in this recipe, if you go the all butter route)
  • 1/4 cold vodka (woot!)
  • 1/4 cold water

Don’t freak out about the amount of liquid (seasoned pie bakers will think this is A LOT).  This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, which means it’s magic and very science-y.  I saw comments online about how the dough was sticky, but then the vodka bakes off leaving a super flaky crust.  From CI: “Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (1/4 cup must be used to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter).”  Interestingly, my dough was not sticky at all, but rather crumbly and hard to form into discs, but I went with it anyway…


1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour [NOTE: this is NOT all of the flour!!], salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous, and dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).

2. 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.

3. 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 [I would say mine was never ‘tacky’ despite using all the liquid – I wonder if it’s because I only used butter?]. 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.  [This step was hard for me because the mixture was so dry – see photo]:

Crumbly dough

Crumbly dough

4.  Roll out and and use as needed.  [NOTE: I refrigerated overnight, and it was HARD WORK rolling it out.  I did it at my dad’s, and he didn’t have any flour on hand, so I rolled it out between 2 sheets of wax paper, which worked pretty well.  If the wax paper is hard to remove because it’s sticky (this happened to me) put the whole thing in the fridge for a bit to let the butter/dough harden – this makes it much easier to pull the wax paper off].

IMG_2415IMG_2416Dough rolling


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