No Fail Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into wedges
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
Sift flour, salt, and sugar together in a large glass bowl.
Now the Cook’s Illustrated recipe tells you to use a food processor, but I don’t have room in my kitchen for appliances like that, and besides, I like using my handy bladed dough blender. If you don’t, skip right over to the Cooks Illustrated recipe, and pop back when you get to the “fridge” step.
In the large bowl, cut in cold butter, a little at a time to the dry ingredients, turning the bowl and scraping up the sides to evenly combine. Continue adding in cold butter and shortening until
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until all the flour’s been scooped up and dough beings to resemble peas in size and shape.
In a small cup, combine water and vodka.
Using a rubber spatula, press, fold, turn, and otherwise knead dough, sprinkling with vodka mixture to moisten. Continue adding liquid and spatula-kneading until dough comes together, it should be tacky but not wet. I only used about half my liquid, so don’t feel bad if your dough is the right consistency and you’ve got leftover vodka-water.
Divide the dough into two pieces and use plastic wrap to flatten and store each. Refrigerate 45 minutes to two days.
Filling the Pies
This dough’s so versatile that you can more or less fill them with whatever ingredients you like. I was in the mood for bacon, so I made up a few savory pies featuring spinach, cheese, slow roasted onions and tomatoes, and pig meat.
While the dough rested in the fridge I slow-roasted some bacon and onions and tomatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Making the Pies
My dough was pretty evenly divided, so I simply took each disc of dough and split into fourths, tearing first down the center, then through the center of each half. Viola, eight good size pies.
If you want to measure more precise, I’m sure you could easily get 10 pies out of the dough, but pull off 12 and you’re looking at are some mighty teeny pies.
As someone who’s grown to fear pie crust, this recipe was a total soul reviver. I didn’t tear a single crust and I was able to roll thinner dough than I’ve ever done before. Proud moment. I nearly wept.
The trick? There’s a TON of butter/fat in the recipe, and if you use plastic wrap on top and bottom, the dough slides right off (and it’s easier clean up counter top covered in a dusting of flour).
My rule of thumb is when rolling and stuffing, don’t fill the pie more than what you’d fill into the palm of your hand, otherwise when you go to fold the top over it won’t fit!
Baking the Pies
Egg Wash (for savory pies)
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
If you’re doing a sweet pie, use a plain egg wash and sprinkle the pies with sugar.
Lightly brush egg wash over sealed pies – this helps seal the pies and adds a pretty gloss and subtle flavor.
Bake pies for 20 minutes or until the pie edges begin to lightly brown.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and allow pies to cool on the pan at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Now you’re supposed to let the pies sit for a bit to get used to life outside the oven, but they lasted maybe a few minutes before the family tore into them. More or less goes without saying the pies turned out phenomenal.
I wouldn’t recommend reheating them, as the crust is likely to get soggy, but also think they tasted good cold the next day for lunch.