Vodka Pie Crust

Posted in Dessert, Pie on March 27th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Similar to how we’ve built a respectable spice rack, Andrew and I are working on building an adult-level liquor cabinet… well a liquor under-the-sink at the moment. The cabinet will happen when we’re adult enough to own a house as well. The surprising thing is it’s how much we’ve built up just through cooking – various wines and sherry, sake, mirin, brandy, and some bourbon I have reserved for a future recipe. Even the leftover Guinness from the flavor-tripping party I plan to use to try to recreate the Beef and Guinness soup I had on St. Patrick’s Day.

For the party, Andrew made a couple pies for real food, and to try out some experimental pie crusts. The first was a strawberry rhubarb pie with an olive oil crust. The olive oil is frozen into solid before working with it.

The second was my discovery, vodka pie crust. The vodka replaces part of the water causing less gluten formation, making the dough easier to work with while still staying flaky.

I’ve made a couple chicken pot pies in the past, and maybe I’ll do it again for the sake of blogging about it in the future, but after the last time I’ve decided that if I’m going to make someone a chicken pot pie then I have to really like them. The chopping vegetables, cutting raw chicken, cooking and making two workable crusts leads to an exhausting pie-shaped meal.

Well Andrew went and showed me up with his own found recipe that used a whole chicken (which has the bonus of not having to cut up raw chicken.) The recipe also made too much for a regular sized pie pan so there was some leftover filling. So I used it the next day, with my silicone pan, to make a mini pie and try out the vodka crust for myself.

Pie crust is such a fickle thing that I’ve been afraid to experiment after finding my own simple version that works (flour, shortening, water). Being out of shortening I had to follow Andrew’s butter recipe completely which he had modified to use the vodka.


  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • ice water
  • freezer-temperature vodka

I’ve always blended my pie crusts by hand with a pastry blender but again following Andrew’s recipe, I used the food processor. I wasn’t sure if it was worth having the extra equipment to wash, until I realized that doing it by hand still leaves a dirty bowl and utensils in its place.

The food processor is definitely worth it if you have one.


  • Blend the butter and flour together first
  • Add water and vodka, a tablespoon of each at a time

It took two tablespoons of each for me. The strange thing is it won’t look ready until you touch it and find it sticks together.

The picture above turned into this.

Rolling it out is where the difference really showed. It was somewhat stretchy, instead of tearing on a whim, which made it especially easier to stuff into my not-exactly-pie-shaped silicone pan.


went into this.

Then while that was in the oven I had to do the true test of pie crust – my tradition of rolling out the leftovers and baking with cinnamon and sugar. Vodka pie crust is a winner, both to work with and to eat, but it does change the taste slightly even though it’s said that the alcohol bakes out. So for passing on the tradition, I’ll probably have to stick with the old recipe when we someday have our own kids involved.

Happy Pi Day

Posted in Dessert, Eggs, Pasta, Pie on March 14th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

For any non-math-geeks, March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14 = Pi! A day to be celebrated by eating pie and other foods that come in the shape of round.

Andrew and I host a yearly Pi Day pie party, but being on a Monday and during his finals week we planned this year’s to be small and low-key. So for a mini-party I decided to make mini pies. My lesson this weekend, between the cupcakes and the pies and quiches, is that making things smaller isn’t necessarily easier than making them normal sized. More trouble than it’s worth, you might even say.

First, I used the silicone bakeware my mom sent as a gift to try out small raspberry pies, since I happened to have a large bag of raspberries in the freezer already.

Of course the recipe is given for a full-sized pie so I had to guess and cut it to 3/4, thinking that would fill two. I used:


  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

I upped the tapioca slightly since the three-quartering came out to an awkward almost two tablespoons and I read that people tended to add more to keep the pie from getting runny to begin with.

These are actually meant to giant muffin pans so stuffing a pie crust in there wasn’t easy. Pie pans are shaped like pie pans for a reason I guess.


  • Mix together the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt until raspberries are well covered.
  • Pour into 9 or 10-inch pastry shell. Dot with butter, top with crust.

Turns out that 3/4 of a recipe fills exactly one cup, so I mixed up another batch exactly the same.

I totally forgot about the butter until it was too late, and realized later that lattice crusts are for cherry pies not raspberry. Well it saved me from rolling out another crust because I could just use the scraps left over.

  • Bake in a preheated 425 degrees F oven for 15 minutes, then at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

The worst part was not being able to taste-test ahead of time, although the lattice crust let me sneak a knife in and taste the filling.

Not pretty, but yes it tasted better than it looks.

Next I attempted to make some mini-quiches using these adorable little tart pans I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond a while back, right after Andrew and I went to Pie in Fremont and were obsessing over the idea of making mini pies ourselves. I used the pans themselves to cut out the crust circles so the crust didn’t go all the way up, but i didn’t think that would matter for something so small.

I used my original quiche recipe for the base (3 eggs, milk, margarine and flour) and planned to add different ingredients to each set of two. After making the first two, the traditional broccoli and cheese, I noticed a problem…

My pans had pop-out bottoms and were leaking.

I added aluminum foil under the crusts, and was even able to salvage the filling from the first two, but they were determined to leak foil or not. I threw it all in the oven and hoped for the best.

It’s like flat quiche with a side of omelet… Left to right that is smoked salmon with onion and parsley, bleu cheese and asparagus, and broccoli and cheese. I had high hopes for making single-serving sized freezable qiuches for work lunches but I’ll have to find a better pan. Maybe that one above with the raspberry pies will do!

Finally I planned to recreate Pie’s macaroni and cheese pie. I originally intended to use the other two cups in the silicone set but I didn’t know how to get the already-cooked pies out without making a mess. So I gave up on the mini theme and brought out the regular pie pan.

I basically used the baked macaroni and cheese recipe I wrote about recently, and baked it in a pie crust. I poured the pasta into the empty pie pan first to get an estimate (around half a box), used one egg and a large handful of cheese from each bag. Then I topped with Panko which also served as a “top crust”.

Again we had to wait to try the finished product.

Now for the best part of making pie… I had all kinds of leftover crust bits to make my favorite part of pie… more crust! Tradition as a kid was always to roll out the leftovers, top with cinnamon and sugar, and bake on a cookie sheet.

The other great part is you no longer have to worry about making it look pretty or stick together, as long as you can get it on the sheet. Andrew didn’t grow up with this tradition but he doesn’t seem to have a problem helping himself either.

Mmmm… pie (crust)