Test Kitchen Notes
Let's face it: There's a bit of effort involved making an entire pie from scratch at home, but the end result is well worth it, and you'll be so proud of the end result. Sometimes it can be difficult to get that crust juuuuust right though, with perfect flakiness and the signature golden brown color, and that's why we turn to this recipe again and again whenever the time comes. Be it for Thanksgiving, a pie-lover's birthday, or you're just aching to take on a baking project, using this recipe from Cook's Illustrated will surely never let you down—and that's saying a lot for a homemade pie crust!
We tested a bunch of different pie crusts, and our tester came to a couple different conclusions about this recipe: "What makes it different: Instead of adding 4 tablespoons of water, you'll use 2 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of vodka. The vodka inhibits gluten formation—making for a tender, more malleable dough—and it evaporates in the oven, which means it leaves no boozy taste behind. And the technique, not just the ingredient list, is convention-bucking: In a food processor, you'll blend the butter completely into a portion of the flour; then you'll break those curds up with some additional flour and use a spatula to press in the liquid.
"I think it's likely that this dough will provide flaky results to nervous beginners—it seems less volatile than an all-butter dough, be it made by hand or in a machine." —The Editors
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- Makes 1 pie crust
1 1/4 cups
unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for the surface
(¾ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- In a food processor, process ¾ cup of the flour, the sugar, and salt until combined, about 2 (1-second) pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process for about 10 seconds, until a homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the processor blade. Add ½ cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix and press down until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten the dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
- Place a rack in the lower third of the oven, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425°F.
- On a generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface, roll the dough to 12-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin and unroll into a pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with your other hand. Leave the overhanging dough in place. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until the dough is firm.
- Trim the overhang to ½ inch beyond the lip of the pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself; the folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm.
- Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, rotate the plate, and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the crust is golden brown and crisp.