Nope! Not a new drink from Smirnoff’s. Yes. A pie crust made with vodka. Seems strange, right? That was enough to get us to try it out. How about you?
First up, if you’ve made pie crust before, we have to warn you that this one is definitely different. When making it, you’ll be sure that you did something wrong. That the dough is too soft, too difficult to work with, and so on. But persevere, it will turn out. And it’ll be a good crust. Not a great crust, but a good crust.
We found this recipe in The Science of Good Cooking, by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen, and they claim it’s fool-proof. So, if you have problems making pie crusts (it can be tricky to avoid those tough crusts), you might want to try out this one.
Makes one 9-inch crust
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
- 4 Tbs vegetable shortening cut into pieces and chilled
- 1/4 cup vodka, chilled
- 1/4 cup water, chilled
If you need to buy vodka for this, just get the store brand. It doesn’t add any flavor, but the alcohol helps prevent the development of gluten, the protein in flour that makes bread chewy and pie crusts tough.
Mise en place. In general, warmth is the nemesis of good pastry crusts; you want everything cold when you make the crust and you want to work fast. Measure out the vodka and water (you can just put them both in a measuring cup), measure and cut the butter, measure and cut the shortening, and place everything in the fridge to chill.
Combine dry ingredients. Place 3/4 cup of flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Add butter and shortening. Distribute the butter and shortening over the top of the flour and process until incorporated, with no remaining floury bits. Our dough formed a ball and rode up on the blade at this stage. Not what we expected, but it did turn out in the end.
Add flour. Sprinkle the remaining flour on the dough, and pulse to combine, about 4 to 6 pulses. Our dough at this stage remained soft and in a ball.
Add water and vodka. Transfer the dough to a bowl, sprinkle with the water and vodka, and use a sturdy rubber spatula to incorporate. The dough will be very soft. You will be sure that you did something wrong at this point. You will be sure that this is the worst pie crust recipe you’ve ever used at this point. It will turn out.
Chill. Scoop the dough out onto plastic wrap, shape into a 4-inch disk, wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
Roll out. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and, using flour to prevent sticking, roll out to the appropriate size. Do not be afraid to use several tablespoons of flour to prevent sticking. Or put it between sheets of wax paper. It will be soft. It will be sticky. But, it will make very a tender crust.
We have a standard recipe that we use for pie crust, and one of us does a great job at creating a nice flaky, tender pie crust, so it’s difficult for us to rate this crust. We will say that while making the vodka crust, we were sure it deserved one star at best, but that was because it behaved so differently than other pie crusts that we are used to. Once baked, we have to admit it makes a good crust, light, flaky, and tender. Four stars.