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Jan 17, 2009 03:07 PM

Making a tender pie crust

I'm not a baker and pie crust is something I tried from scratch only once and it was terrible. But I just saw this on America's Test Kitchen and thought I'd pass it along.

Use vodka instead of water. Water accelerates the formation of gluten which can make the dough tough and difficult to work with. Gluten does not form with ethanol and vodka is 40% ethanol. So you can use more liquid to make the dough more pliable, the alcohol will dissipate in the oven and the crust will remain tender and flaky.

I'm not attempting to advocate the use of alcohol in baking pies - just passing along some info to be used as seen to be appropriate.

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  1. i tried this recipe and it is pretty amazing.

    anyone who is intimidated by pie dough should try it, because this dough is so easy to work with. seriously, it's like play do. it really has to be completely cold to roll, however. when blind-baking these crusts, i find they take a bit longer.

    they don't replace all of the water with vodka. here's a link to the recipe:

    when i used this recipe i used some vanilla vodka i had lying around, it was a nice flavor element. no alcohol taste whatsoever.

    1. Thanks for that suggestion. I'll check it out next time I'm doing a pie.

      I like this approach with egg + vinegar. It also makes an incredibly flakey and easy to manipulate pastry and you don't have the concern of alcohol if that makes someone uncomfortable. Not crazy about using Crisco but the results are so good I make an exception.,1937,...

      2 Replies
      1. re: rainey

        The vodka trick is really good. If someone is worried about 1/4 cup of vodka (that is fully evaporated anyway) in a whole pie crust, they're morons, so I wouldn't even serve them pie in my house--you get 86 for things like that here. You get just as much alcohol from that cake as you do in a non-alcoholic beer--undetectible amounts.

        1. re: hankstramm

          Love the vodka pie crust. Tried it at Thanksgiving. Dough was a pleasure to work with, can't taste the alcohol in the crust which was tender and flakey.

      2. Thanks for the post. Even though I've had solved the problem of the clumping vital gluten flour with use of alcohol in the past, I never would have thought to make the connection to making pie crust! It was when I wanted to make some "vegetarian intestine" using the vital gluten flour. My first attempt had the gluten flour seize up immediately upon contact with water. My 2nd attempt I used some very good sake replacing most of the water, and it was a lot easier to shape and form, and tasted better, too.

        I probably won't be getting more vital gluten flour once i use this batch up, but I sure will be making pie crust many more times! Thanks!

        1. If you register for free at and then scroll down this season's recipes to the one for Blueberry Pie, it contains the recipe and instructions for making the vodka crust.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            pigtails has a link to it, up top.

            Two tablespoons of vodka makes a difference? I guess I have to try it out.

            1. re: dolores

              Dolores, from what I understood, the extra 2 tablespoons were literally "extra" liquid - over and above the amount of liquid that would "normally" be used. A wetter dough allows for easier manipulation and rolling and since the alcohol (liquid) evaporates, the tenderness or flakiness of the final crust isn't affected.

              And just a word for anyone who looked at the recipe. The grated apple was used for the pectin content ( a natural thickener ) which eliminated overuse of tapioca or other thickening starch with could affect the taste of the pie. Just be sure to wringe the apple with a tea towel to remove any excess liquid. They also said that the tarter the apple, the greater the pectin content.

              This was a quite interesting episode - and I don't even bake pies!