To me, the quality of a good pie depends on so many things. The filling can’t be too thick or too thin, it can’t be too sweet or too tart, and the crust has to be sturdy enough to support the pie, yet light, flaky, and buttery at the same time.
I searched through several cookbooks and looking for the recipe I felt could become my go-to perfect pie crust. I settled on Martha Stewart’s perfect pate brisee but incorporated a trick I learned from “America’s Test Kitchen”–I replaced one tablespoon of the ice water with vodka. According to the geniuses at ATK, when the alcohol cooks out, it makes for an even flakier pie dough. If you don’t keep vodka on hand, feel free to use white vinegar. It’ll have the same fantastic effect. I have to say, Martha and ATK sure know what they’re talking about. The dough was perfect!
I use this recipe as the crust in all my pies. Many of you do, too. That truly delights me. If you’re looking for a place to start or a new recipe to try, I highly recommend a strawberry balsamic pie, bumbleberry pie, salted caramel apple pie, or pear pie with maple and ginger.
A surprising ingredient, vodka, makes this flaky, flavorful all-butter perfect pie crust the only one you’ll ever need.
Perfect Pie Crust
adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. granulated sugar (I like to use vanilla sugar)
1 c. (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 TBSP chilled vodka (or white vinegar, if you don’t keep vodka on hand)
1/4 to 1/2 c. ice water, less 1 TBSP
1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process for a few seconds to combine.
2. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about ten seconds.
3. Add the vodka then the water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube with the machine running, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide into two equal pieces and place on two separate sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten into disks, then wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before using. Dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped and in a sealed zip top bag, up to three months.
yield: crusts for two 8 to 10-inch single-crust pies pies or one 8 to 10-inch double crust pie