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Jan 15, 2009 10:18 AM

Vodka pie dough - possible permutations?

I have not made the Cooks Illustrated vodka pie dough but am intrigued after seein it on ATK.
The concept is that vodka is 50% alcohol, which cooks off during baking. Using 2 oz. ice water and 2 oz. vodka creates a wetter dough which is easy to work with, but bakes up more tender than a 4 oz. water pie dough.

So I got to about using flavored spirits for fruit pie doughs? Amaretto, which is 24-28% alcohol, leaps to mind as a flavor that would pair well with, well, pear. Also peach, plum, and apple. Its volume would decrease less, but if the water were omitted entirely, and replaced with 4 oz. of amaretto chilled in the freezer, it should evaporate down to the same 3oz net as a vodka pie dough. Has anyone seen such a recipe, or baked something similar?

Other thoughts: Kahlua or creme de menthe dough for a chocolate tart, praline liqueur for pecan pie.....

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  1. Alton Brown used applejack for apple pie.

    1. Why not try and let us know. It shouldn't make that much of a difference since it's only such a small amount of liquid anyway. I've used the vodka trick for three different pies and the crusts have been the flakiest ever.

      1. The important thing here is the ratio of ethenol to other things. Low ethenol liquors may add flavor but add little value when it comes to preventing the formation of gluten.

        1. I can tell you that I recently made pie and used white rum in place of vodka. (I don't keep vodka in the house). The dough had a definite rum flavor (difficult to keep from eating!) but the flavor wasn't discernible in the baked crust. I think the amount of liquor used in the recipe is small enough that any flavor boost you get would be minimal.

          1. My pastry-chef mother was giving my friend a pie crust lesson this week--demonstrating exactly how to cut in the fat, the difference between butter and lard crusts, between mealy and flaky crusts and their different purposes, etc. I told her about the CI vodka crust, and her ears perked (she was a microbiologist for her first career, a science teacher for her second, so the idea immediately appealed to her). We gave it a try using vanilla vodka and compared it to the traditional recipes.

            The dough tasted great, better than standard pie dough. Almost yeasty, in fact. The dough was much easier to work with. Great extensibility without elasticity. And the taste and texture of the baked product is fabulous. I couldn't really detect the vanilla from the vanilla vodka once the pie was baked, though. Like Amuse_Bouches,I think when the vanilla vodka baked out it didn't leave much behind.