Pie Crust Q&A

Everything you ever wanted to know about pie crust—and more.

What’s vodka doing in the dough?

Most pie crust recipes are stingy with water. Although scant water makes the dough hard to roll, it prevents too much gluten from forming, which would make the crust tough. We replace some of the water with vodka. Because vodka is 40 percent ethanol, a liquid that cannot form gluten, the dough stays supple, tender, and easy to roll.

Will my pie taste boozy?

No, the alcohol evaporates in the oven. This crust does not taste like alcohol, nor will it impair your judgment.

Why add the flour in two parts?

When you add butter to flour, some of the flour gets coated with the fat and some doesn’t. The right ratio of these two is crucial for flaky pie crust. By incorporating the flour in two additions, we ensure a consistent ratio.

What if the dough tears?

Even the most experienced bakers tear pie dough on occasion. To patch it, take a scrap of dough, moisten the side to be sealed with a little water, and press the dough into place. Disaster averted.

What’s with the big holes?

Fruit pies with high-moisture fillings—like our Blueberry Pie—often call for a lattice top crust so the steam from the hot filling can escape; otherwise, the top crust gets soggy. To get the benefit of a lattice crust without the tedious work of cutting and weaving dough strips, we roll out the top crust and cut vent holes with a small biscuit cutter. A small juice glass works, too.

Why bake the pie on a hot sheet?

The preheated baking sheet helps the bottom crust crisp and brown, so you won’t be eating soggy pie. Also, it catches any drips.

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