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Making Pie Dough-America's Test Kitchen Vodka Dough

How many of you watch America's Test Kitchen shows on your local PBS station?  Show of hands, please.  Well, those of you who don't have your hands raised really should check your local TV listings and catch one of the shows soon.  The programs are full of ideas and tips, like this suggestion that you can make a better pie dough using vodka as one of the ingredients.  I know, sounds crazy doesn't it?

Vodka Pie Dough
Pie dough is not my thing.  No, not at all.  Yes, I've been known to purchase the prepared pie dough from my local grocery store.  No, I'm not ashamed to admit it, and neither should you be.  My mom, keeps telling me that making pie dough is easy.  Yes, easy as pie.  Well, I'm finally willing to tackle the art of making pie dough.  I actually started about a year ago.  I selected different dough recipes, made some pies and compared the crust results.  I had no clear winner with my first attempt at the experiment, so I'm ready to start again.  The America's Test Kitchen vodka dough recipe is the first in the experiment.

The theory behind using vodka in the recipe is that the vodka will make a moist dough that is easy to roll out, but the alcohol will cook off quickly in the oven, making a flaky, tender crust.  That sounds good doesn't it?  Let's see how it comes out in application in the Just One Donna kitchen, shall we?

Vodka Pie Dough
Makes two crusts
Vodka Pie Crust Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold vodka
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Using a food processor, mix 1 1/2 cups of flour, the salt and sugar, until combined, about two pulses.  Add the butter and shortening and process until the dough collects in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds.

Use both Butter and Shortening
Scrape the bowl with a spatula and distribute the dough evenly around the blade.  Add the remaining flour and pulse until the dough has been broken up.  That should take 4 to 6 pulses.

Ready to Remove from the Processor
Empty the mixture into a medium bowl and sprinkle with the water and vodka.  Use your spatula to fold the the mixture together until it is tacky and sticks together.

This is a Wet Pie Dough
Divide the dough into two equal disks.  Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.

Refrigerate Dough for up to Two Days
I used the dough to make a pumpkin pie.  The crust was crisp and tender, but not flaky.   Here are some notes from my first experience with this dough:
  • Be sure to use plenty of bench flour when you roll out the dough.  This is a wet dough that will stick unless you use enough flour.
  • Turn the dough frequently as you roll it out. making sure the dough moves freely on the counter.
  • My dough cracked and didn't stay perfectly rounded.  If that happens to you, you can easily patch the crust with a piece of the dough from another section.  Don't sweat it.
  • Be sure to pop the unbaked crust back into the refrigerator to chill for 20-30 minutes before you bake it.
  • The crust on my pumpkin pie darkened quickly.  I had to cover the crust to keep it from over cooking.
Overall, this dough is easy to make, a little tricky to roll out, easy to fit into the pie plate and tender once baked.  You won't taste the vodka at all.



You can get the printable Vodka Pie Dough recipe by clicking the link.

Enjoy!

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