(Almost) Pie Crust From Scratch

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Making a pie crust from scratch is really pretty easy.  Tried it for the first time.

But rolling out the pie dough… Now that’s a bitch.  (Pardon my French.)

But I did it…  Sorta.

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Yes, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe called for vodka.  No sense paraphrasing it so this is what they said:

“The problem is that dry pie dough is impossible to roll out. We needed a soft, pliable dough for rolling—that is, one with plenty of liquid—but a dry dough when it came to baking. The solution turned out to be, surprisingly, vodka. By using a quarter cup of ice water mixed with the same amount of chilled vodka, we could add a high amount of liquid and create a dough that was moist enough to roll out easily, but still tender after baking. While gluten forms readily in water, it doesn’t form in alcohol, and vodka is 40 percent alcohol. The alcohol vaporizes in the oven, so that no trace of vodka is detectable in the finished crust.”

Well, it really worked except when this old former mechanic decided to deviate from said recipe by leaving it in the oven to bake for three extra minutes.

And letting the dough get too warm while rolling it… if you call it rolling.  LOL  Instead of being circular, it ended up looking more like Patrick Star of Spongebob.

Oh well.

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Let’s get down to the evidence:

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Pulse 2/3rds of the unbleached flour together with the sugar and salt.
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After adding the chilled vegetable shortening and unsalted butter, process no more than ten seconds. Separate dough into two or three sections then add remaining flour. Watch out for the cloud.
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After adding the remaining flour and about four to six pulses, dough should look like this. Don’t overdo it.
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Transfer to mixing bowl, add water and vodka, and fold. Should be tacky.
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Form a four inch circle, wrap in plastic wrap then refrigerate at least 45 minutes.
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Liberally dust. I was dumb enough to use my granite counter top…which was still warm from basking in the afternoon sun. I also forgot to dust the top before rolling. 🙂
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Patrick Star in disguise. Making the dough til now was a snap. Rolling it? HA!
P C 9a
It needs plastic surgery…but don’t laugh. 🙂
P C 9b
A burned fait accompli. You can see the results of my uneven rolling! In fact, the right side slid down! I actually had to throw it back into the oven as that section was still moist… The bottom ended up looking like graham crackers it was so toasted!
P C 9c
It didn’t look TOO bad when it was filled up with strawberries covered in PERFECT glaze… not like jello and certainly not runny! Anyways, my good USAF neighbors got half of it; I think he may have flung out the pie crust from 30 Angels as a lethal weapon.

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Well, the dough certainly was easy to put together.

This (aging) former mechanic did it…but didn’t follow the instructions at the end.  In short:

  1. Dust the top of the dough before rolling. LOL
  2. Learn to roll out the dough evenly. Double LOL
  3. Roll it in the early morning before the granite counter top feels like the Sahara. Duh

The secret is the vodka and keeping the ingredients chilled.

Oh.  Don’t burn the crust nor watch Spongebob before rolling.

17 thoughts on “(Almost) Pie Crust From Scratch”

  1. I triple the vodka suggestion, Koji. The good news here is that the crust only required one quarter of a cup. That left pretty much the whole bottle for medicinal purposes. –Curt

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