oh my pie

I was watching America’s Test Kitchen awhile back with my parents and they were trying to find the best pie crust and the best blueberry pie, both of which caught our interest. I knew I’d have to try them out. I’m going to save the blueberry pie for Christmas (using blueberries from my own bushes!) but I took advantage of my pie-making-duties to test out the crust recipe.

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I made three pies Wednesday evening for Thanksgiving: pumpkin, pumpkin-cheesecake, and apple (the same trio as last year). Only the pumpkin and apple required the classic dough crust–I made a pecan crust again for the pumpkin cheesecake.

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The American Test Kitchen recipe for pie crust requires 2.5 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) of butter, and a half cup of shortening mixed together as usual. Then you add in 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of vodka.

Yup. That’s right. VODKA.

Crazy, right?!

The idea is that the extra liquid the vodka gives makes the dough easier to work with and roll out… then the alcohol evaporates when it’s baked, creating a lovely flaky crust.

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And it worked! The dough was super easy to work with and I didn’t get nearly as frustrated as I have in the past with dough not doing as it’s told.

Except with the first batch of dough. I was having issues reading the recipe and for some reason interpreted a line that read “12 T butter (1.5 sticks)” as “1.5 C butter.” Big difference.

I didn’t realize my mistake until I was making the second batch and re-reading the recipe.

Then I couldn’t stop laughing. (I promise I didn’t even use the “some for you, some for me” cooking method with the vodka.)

My mom ended up using that dough for an apple and nut thing that was quite yummy… but very rich.

Oh, and we had a shortage of butter after that. I doubt I’ll hear the end of the Butter Shortage of 2010 anytime soon.

The pies were all a big hit, especially the pumpkin-cheesecake. (I used the same recipe as last year, except that I had to substitute cream and lemon juice, plus a bit of extra cream cheese for sour cream. It turned out great!)

Apple, before:

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Apple, after:

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Pumpkin, before (a few of the dough circles stuck to the pie crust shield… and then a spatula somehow dropped onto it):

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Pumpkin, after:

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Pumpkin Cheesecake, before:

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Pumpkin Cheesecake, after:

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I hope you all had a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving!

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