This is the second of two articles on making great piecrusts. In the first article, we make the Flaky Pie Crust recipe in Modernist Cuisine at Home. In this article, we’ll compare it to the well-known Cooks Magazine recipe, “the one that uses vodka.” For comparison, you can also look at our original recipe, which is from Lyda Kintner. It’s simpler and only takes a few minutes to put together.
Kimball’s recipe uses the same 12 Tb of unsalted butter that the Modernist Cuisine recipe does, and adds 1/2 cup of chilled shortening as well. Before you start this recipe, put 1/2 cup of Crisco in the freezer for a few minutes. It also includes a bit of sugar, but you could omit it if you are making savory pies.
According to Kimball and the Times, water bonds with flour to form gluten and too much gluten makes the crust tough. Using vodka, which is 60% water gives you an easy to roll crust with less gluten. The alcohol boils away during baking and adds no taste the final dough.
This recipe is a little larger, and is enough for a two crust pie or two pie shells.
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tb sugar
- 12 Tb unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chilled shortening
- 1/4 cup chilled vodka
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Put 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a food processor, along wit the salt and sugar and pulse to mix.
- Then add the butter and shortening and pulse until the dough starts to accumulate in uneven clumps and there is no uncoated flour. This should take about 15 seconds.
- Scrape the bowl down and add the remaining cup of flour, and pulse until evenly distributed, about 6 quick pulses.
- Put the dough in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the vodka and water. Fold and mix using a rubber spatula until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together..
- Divide the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 45 minutes, or up to two days.
- To bake the piecrust, preheat the oven to 375, and roll out one of the disks on a floured board.
- Place in a piepan and cover with parchment and weight the dough down with beans.
- Bake for 12 minutes, remove the beans and parchment and bake 2-4 more minutes until just browned.
The Kimball/Cook’s recipe is certainly simpler, without the eggs and sous vide cooking, and the dough is a lot easier to handle. It doesn’t get sticky so easily, and isn’t so sweet that it is closer to a sugar cookie than a piecrust. It is also more flaky, as you can see from the close-up photos.
Compared to the classic Grandma’s Recipe it is considerably more work, requiring that you chill the vodka and knead it in with the water, and then chill the whole thing for 45 minutes. However, the crust is flakier than that conventional version is.