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Pie dough has secret and surprising ingredient

Donnforms pie crust dough inpan.  Reporter DonnVickroy learns how make pumpkpie The Center Palos Park Illinois Friday October 28

Donna forms the pie crust dough into a pan. Reporter Donna Vickroy learns how to make a pumpkin pie at The Center in Palos Park, Illinois, Friday, October, 28, 2011. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:57AM



Do you have pie dough-making phobia? If so, now’s the time to tackle that fear.

Making your own pie dough is, well, easy as pie. The ingredients couldn’t be simpler: flour, salt, butter or shortening, and ice water plus vodka.

Using vodka for part of the liquid is a method we picked up years ago from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated. It makes a dough that rolls out easily and perfectly. Why? Vodka, which is 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent water, allows you to add enough liquid to make the dough easier to roll out without tearing. Plus, gluten does not form in ethanol. (If you don’t have vodka, increase the water a tablespoon at a time when mixing the ingredients.)

Follow these steps and techniques for that flaky crust folks crave:

† Start out with all cold ingredients: Cut the butter and, if using, the shortening into about quarter-inch cubes. Put them in a bowl and chill in the freezer. If you use all shortening, the crust will be the flakier. Using all butter adds flavor and strengthens the dough. It’s still flaky, but not as much as using all shortening. Chill the flour.

† Have ice water ready. If using vodka, chill it in the freezer.

† Plan on using a food processor. It’s easy and forgiving because you’re not handling the mixture as much. Overworking the dough will toughen it.

† After adding fat (butter/shortening) to the food processor, wrap plastic wrap over the work bowl before putting the top on. This keeps the flour from flying all over. Remove plastic wrap once the mixture resembles pea-size pieces. If mixing by hand, cut in the butter and shortening using a pastry blender or two knives in a crisscross motion.

† Slowly add liquids and just enough so the dough comes together and doesn’t crumble. Press some of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If it holds together, it’s ready. Don’t process it too much.

† Shape the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it at least 2 hours. The dough should be cool but not so cold that it is hard to roll out. You also can freeze it for 2 months.

† For a two-crust pie, roll out the bottom crust first and keep the other portion of dough in the refrigerator. When you roll it out, you should see uneven spots of fat (the butter/shortening).

† Roll dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Roll from the center out in a clock-like fashion. Or roll between pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap to make transferring it to the pie pan easier.

† Once the bottom crust is rolled out, place it in the pan and give the dough a second chill while you roll out the top crust.

Gannett News Service



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