Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ Foolproof Pie Dough

Friday, November 4, 2011

Well, PIE season is about upon us. If you know me, you know that I ♥ pie. I've used a few different crust recipes over the years. My sweet grandmother-in-law always added a Tbsp of vinegar to hers (and I did for many years too) to suppress gluten formation and thus get a very flaky crust -- vodka does a better job. This is now the only recipe I use.

Anyone who knows me also knows that my FAVORITE is Cherry Pie!

Happy Pie Making!

Foolproof Pie Dough
(Printable Version)
Cook’s Illustrated 2007
- makes one 9-inch double-crust pie -

The trick to this pie crust is the inclusion of vodka. Eighty-proof vodka, which is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, adds moistness to the dough without aiding in gluten formation since gluten doesn't form in ethanol. Although the recipe includes 8 tablespoons of liquid, the alcohol vaporizes during baking, resulting in a tender crust that only contains 6 1/2 tablespoons of water. Because of the extra liquid, the dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require up to 1/4 cup more flour.

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

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 homogeneous 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.
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.

Posting to Michael's Foodie Friday and Honey's Potpourri Party!


  1. Anita said...:

    Gail, I have to say that my mom does the pie baking here, and she has just recently perfected her crust, lol! Not sure what she does, only that I cannot do it! I'll have to try this one. I never get a chance to make one because she is always making them and sending them over. Terrible problem to have, I know!!

  1. I've always done my pie crusts by hand with the pastry cutter, which is one of the reasons I so RARELY make a pie -- I make a great crust, but I hate doing it.

    So I'm going to try yours because I can use the Cuisinart. Brilliant. Plus if it doesn't turn out, I'll have the leftover vodka with which to console myself.


  1. I just started making my own pie crust and it really is pretty simple. I searched and searched to find a recipe and in all my searching NEVER saw anyone include vodka! Hope you have a good weekend!

  1. I needed a great pie crust recipe!! This is very interesting. Never heard of adding vinegar or vodka, but I can see why! Thanks, Gail!


  1. Lady Farmer said...:

    (YaY! My computer is letting me comment!)
    Gail~ I have watched over and over again how to make pie crust and been given and used many recipes, but mine never turns out! Because of that, like Cass above (isn't she a riot?!), I RARELY bake pies! In fact, I just bought two boxes of pre-made crusts because I am so bad at it! I am going to try one more time with your recipe and see if it turns out for me! I have some lovely apples just crying out to be baked into a pie and a hubby that is wanting one! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  1. Ruby Jean said...:

    Oh I am going to have to try this ... I am the WORST pie crust maker... I just don't bother with baking instead I do the easy thing which is buying... But it surely doesn't come close to homemade Pie... : ) Thanks for sharing

  1. Kathleen said...:

    Gail, do you have a trick for keeping the bottom crust from becoming soggy?

    I tried the vodka recipe years ago when it was in the NY Times.
    I am still trying to duplicate my mom's recipe, with no luck. She never wrote it down!
    I know she used Crisco, a no no! But it was so good and flaky!
    Have a great weekend!

  1. Candy said...:

    I love making pie crust and have gotten pretty good using a recipe from Dorie Greenspan. I've seen this one in Cook's Illustrated and have been intrigued by the inclusion of vodka but haven't tried it. Your crust is beautiful!

  1. Honey at 2805 said...:

    Thanks for your foolproof pie dough recipe. It is a real art to getting a perfect one. Then too, now here is an excuse to have a bottle of vodka around. ;)

    Thank you for sharing your recipe at Potpourri Friday!

  1. Very interesting with the vodka! I can't wait to try this. The one I use now has vinegar.

  1. Sounds like a fun crust to try Gail! I've always just used shortening, flour and water:@)

  1. I am a terrible pie maker. I think I am impatient with the crust but they always taste good but look ugly. I will have to try this crust for Thanksgiving pies.

  1. Olive Cooper said...:

    Funny, Gail I usually feel like I need to drink Vodka when I attempt crust now I will put it in the crust.

  1. Oh I wish I had had this recipe when my MIL was still with us. She was the Vodka Queen. :-) I would have loved to make Vodka crust for her.
    (Have you ever tried this recipe with lard instead of shortening?)

  1. Gail, I have tried for over a decade to make a good pie crust... recipe after recipe with only mediocre success. I usually use Martha Stewart's all butter pie dough, but I love the flavor and texture of a "short" dough. This one, on your recommendation,will be the next one I will try. I am baking 4 pies for Thanksgiving, so I think I might make this dough the upcoming week to practice.
    This recipe came at the perfect time!!!!!
    Thanks so much... Grandmom!!!
    xo Yvonne

  1. ButterYum said...:

    Man o man, that is one good looking cherry pie! Stunning.

    I love making my crust in a food processor. I love the CI vodka recipe, but don't always have vodka on hand so I usually use my old standby "all butter" crust. I've never tried a vinegar version.

    Happy baking!

  1. janice15 said...:

    Im amazed by the vodka I never heard of it would love to try it .. I always stuck by my old Crisco recipe off the label..but since I have been adventuring these days lol I will try it...thank you for sharing it...I love baking Happy Saturday with love Janice

  1. Carol said...:

    What a fascinating recipe! Maybe I'll try it sometime....I have a little vodka on hand.
    I have a wonderful piecrust recipe that hubby loves. Kind of sends him into orbit, it's that good.
    I agree, it's pie season, for sure!
    Have a wonderful week!

  1. Bella Vista said...:

    Hi Gail, ooooo, I love cheery pie, too! So yummy. Love the pictures.

    Barb ♥

  1. Jenn Lopez said...:

    I think I might try your pie crust recipe. I make pie crust all the time with my pastry cutter and an all butter recipe. The idea of vodka intrigues me. I make my own vanilla extract, using vodka, so I am going to 1T of that vodka and the rest plain, to see if it gives the dough any sort of vanilla essense.

  1. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'm baking pies this evening, will try your recipe, as Cass said if it doesn't turn out I'll have the Vodka to console myself.. From our home to yours Happy Thanksgiving. hugs ~lynne~

  1. Definitely will have to try this pie crust recipe...I need all the help I can get!


  1. Gypsy Heart said...:

    You know, I cook with alcohol...sometimes I even add it to the food. :-)

    This sounds wonderful and I will definitely try it! Thanks so much for sharing.


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