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Oct 9, 2013 07:43 AM

Egg in pie crust or not?

Some use butter/shortening and cold water with flour, and others just use egg instead of cold water. And I haven't tried the vodka technique because I prefer to drink it.

Any preference? Is one better for a certain application? I'm used to the standard with water but have been studying pate brisee, sucre and sablee which almost always use egg.

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  1. I prefer the short bread crust, holds up better. Depends on the type of pie I suppose.

    Vodka approach is new to me.

    1. My mother's old recipe for pie crust involved an egg yolk, but once I found the vodka recipe from Cook's Illustrated, I never looked back. BTW, the vodka actually isn't essential, nor is it the secret to making that crust turn out so well. The trick is in the first step, which requires you to blend half the flour COMPLETELY into the fat, until all the flour is completely coated and the mixture resembles Play-dough. It seems totally unintuitive and wrong, but this is actually what helps the crust form just the right amount of gluten so that it has structure AND flakiness. If you do that step correctly, you can use all water for your liquid and the crust comes out just as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: biondanonima

        I did watch a YouTube cook make a "pate brisee express" which involved melting the butter then adding the flour into the pot all at once. Reminded me much of pate a choux. She spoke in french so I'm not sure what explanation she gave, if any, but I'm guessing this has something to do with what you mention. I think I'll give that technique a try, with half of the flour amount.

      2. I use an egg in the crust I make for my Pizza Rustica, which is a savory pie. I feel that the egg crust is sturdier, and more suited to a savory pie, but that's just me. Here's a picture of the Pizza Rustica with the crust using an egg.

        3 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          Wow, that is a beautiful pie. Just beautiful...

          1. re: janniecooks

            +1. Just googled a vegetarian version of pizza rustica and LOL at the picture!


            Probably still tastes good, though ;)

            1. re: youareabunny

              Lol. That'll teach you not to mess with a good thing!

        2. It would depend on the kind of pie, but all of mine to date have been either short and flaky (or tried to be!) or biscuit. I do like the looks of roxlet's pizza rustica, though, and the idea of using something like a pate à choux. If I were doing that last, though, I'd probably just make puffs and fill them …

          It's the first chilly wet day here (SoCal) in about six months, so it sure is fun talking about this stuff!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            Here is the pate a choux version I was referring too. I forgot that she uses baking powder as well.


            I'm from SoCal as well but spend half my time in France lately. It rained here too ;). I love this season, baking season!

            1. re: youareabunny

              The video stalled out on my ancient iMac, but I'll need Mrs. O to translate for me anyway. That does look very good, just the thing for a custard and fruit filling. It would be killer for mincemeat too, much better than the usual flour/fat crust … and now I'm thinking of a mincemeat/custard combo. Sort of nesselrode-ish. Thank you!

              1. re: youareabunny

                The method in that video produces a brilliant sweet tart crust! What's shown is pretty much identical to Alice Medrich's recipe (which you can see here:, and after having made it a couple of times, I doubt I'll want to use another pate sucree recipe again. It's just so simple, with the melted butter and pressing it in the pan, and it's got a wonderful tender/crumbly texture. It is less sturdy than the versions that include egg yolk and cream as liquid, however, so I've found it must be treated gingerly when depanning and moving.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Wonderful to read your recommendation. I was skeptical at first but now I definitely need to try it.

            2. I use the recipe my mother taught me nearly 40 years ago, so it's shortening for me!!