As much as I love being in the kitchen, pies have never really been my forte. And I must admit that a traditional pie crust can still give me trouble. Lots of it. Perfect flakiness without toughness is, well… tough.
There are a few easy tricks that can help. I finally tested them out a few weeks ago and was pleased with the result. Cooks Illustrated September 2010 goes into more depth and provides a recipe with these adjustments already built in. Visit them for their recipe here. Or try these simple adjustments to any basic pie dough recipe. Need one? Click here.
2. Fat- use half butter and half solid vegetable shortening. We want butter’s flavor, but the shortening has no water, so… again, less gluten.
3. Liquid- replace about half of your water with vodka (or any ~80 proof spirit). Yes, vodka. This allows needed moisture to hold the crust together while decreasing the actual water content. Gluten forms with water, but not with alcohol. The vodka’s alcohol and flavor will essentially burn off in the oven.
Hope this will help next time you’re in the mood for a perfect flaky pie crust. And, cheers to vodka~