Foolproof Pie Dough

Published September 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

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Why this recipe works:

Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave… read more

Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave us an easy-to-roll crust recipe with less gluten and no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.

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For one 9-inch Double-Crust Pie

Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute extra water. The alcohol is key to our recipe; if you don't have vodka on hand, you can use another 80 proof liquor. 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).

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vodka, cold
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. 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 homogenous 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.

Step-by-Step

Key Steps to Foolproof Pie Dough

1. MAKE A FAT AND FLOUR PASTE: Completely blending part of the flour with all of the butter ensures a consistent amount of fat-coated flour in the final dough.

2. ADD MORE FLOUR: Pulsing in the final cup of flour ensures a consistent amount of uncoated flour in the final dough.

3. ADD WATER AND VODKA: Sprinkling with water and vodka ensures even distribution. No need to skimp—unlike water, vodka won't make the dough tough.

Making Foolproof Pie Dough Without a Food Processor

If you don't have a food processor, you can also prepare this recipe in a stand mixer: Start by bringing your butter and shortening to room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium-low speed until just combined, 4 to 5 seconds. Add butter and shortening to mixer and mix on medium-low speed for another 15 seconds, until dough starts to form around paddle. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle with spatula. Add remaining cup flour and mix on medium-high speed until dough has broken into smaller pieces, 2 to 3 seconds. Empty contents into medium bowl and continue recipe from step 2.

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