Secret to the Best Piecrust? Just Add Vodka

4 years ago

Mama’s a sucker for canned cherry pie-filling.

Not all canned pie fillings, mind you, just cherry pie filling. Maybe it brings back memories. Or, perhaps, sometimes I just crave that sugar-smack tacky mouth feel that you get with canned pie filling.

Calories? Yes. Comfort? You betcha.

Could also be that Sistie has been watching Twin Peaks on Hulu and, if you’ve ever watched the two-season series, you know cherry pie figures into the plot. Sort of.

A recipe I found in Cook’s Illustrated in 2010 inspired the vodka crust. Why vodka? Because gluten forms easily in water and gluten makes the crust tough. Vodka contains 60 percent water and 40 percent ethanol. By replacing some of the water with vodka, liquid can be added without making the crust tough. The alcohol (and flavor) burns off in the oven.

Cherries won’t be in season until summer, but this will take care of any sweetie-pie craving you may have. Cheers!

Image: Courtesy of Mama's High Strung

Cherry Pie with Vodka Crust

prep: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour resting in refrigerator
bake: 35 to 40 minutes

you’ll need…
2½ cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch slices
½ cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
¼ cup vodka, cold
¼ cup cold water
Two 21-ounce cans Cherry Pie Filling
1 egg, beaten

let’s get to it…
Mix half the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor for 2 seconds. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 to 15 times or until dough looks like cottage cheese and there is no loose flour; scrape bowl. Add remaining flour and pulse 5 or 6 times.
Remove dough from food processor and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle vodka and water over dough and fold until dough sticks together and all liquid is absorbed. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten into two 4-inch disks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
After dough has rested, move oven rack to the lowest position and place a baking sheet on the rack. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Dust rolling pin and work surface with flour. Remove one dough disk from refrigerator. Roll dough in a circle to a uniform thickness (about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick), about 1 inch larger than an upside-down 9-inch pie plate. Place rolled-out dough into pie plate and press gently into form of plate. Trim excess, leaving about ½-inch overhang. Pour canned pie filling into pie shell; set aside.
Dust rolling pin and work surface again with flour. Roll dough in a circle to a uniform thickness (about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick), about 1 inch larger than an upside down 9-inch pie plate. Place second rolled-out dough on top of cherries. Trim excess, leaving about ½-inch overhang. Press edges together.
Brush beaten egg on top of crust. Cut several 1-inch slits into the top using a sharp knife.
Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown. If crust appears to brown too quickly, cover with a piece of foil. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour.   



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