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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Extra crispy pie crust - with booze!

Boozey blackberry hand pie...not an omelet, despite appearances.

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I don't know about you, but I am forever perfecting my pie crust. It's my own quest for the Holy Grail. I love pie better than most desserts...heck, most FOODS out there. And the crust is my favorite part. I've tried many, many recipes, tips, tricks, and gadgets in search of a perfectly flakey, buttery crust that's crumbly, but not dry, and crispy on the bottom. I HATE soggy bottom crust. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

I got a food processor for Christmas, which changed my life. Seriously, I don't know why I ever doubted the utility of a food processor. It is NOT "basically a blender" as I naively believed before. I think I bust it out at least weekly. I've found a couple trusted, tried-and-true recipes (courtesy of Martha Stewart) that never let me down: my favorites are Our Favorite Pie Crust and Patee Brisee.

A couple weeks ago, I was browsing blogs, as I often do, and while reading Lifehacker's latest, I stumbled upon a previously-unknown secret to making extra crispy, flakey pie crust: replace the water in your favorite recipe with vodka! I just love those guys at Lifehacker. Is there anything they can't do??

This was a very exciting find. This is essentially scientific evidence that booze really does make baking better. Could this be the antidote to soggy bottom crust? My science-minded coworker Peggy confirmed that her daughter uses this trick every time she bakes a pie. Well, if it's endorsed by both Lifehacker and Peggy, then it must be good. Determined to try this trick myself, I dragged Bella out to pick some blackberries, which grow wild by a nearby creek.
That's Bella.
It's so late in the season that the blackberries are on their way out, but like I said, I was determined!! We didn't find quite enough to fill a full size, double crust pie like I wanted to, so I decided to make hand pies. Here's how Martha makes them. I amended our harvest with a little homemade jam and some tapioca pearls (tapioca pearls are my mom's secret weapon in thickening pie filling!), which I simmered with some lemon juice and triple sec, because, why not? I used Martha's "Our Favorite Pie Crust" recipe.

I got a little overly excited and over-filled my hand pies, which overflowed...hence my lack of step by step photos. Clearly, you shouldn't do exactly what I did, because my pies exploded! The one pictured above was one of few survivors. In my next batch I will rein in the excitement, but let me tell you, there WILL be another batch and it will happen soon! My pies probably wouldn't win a beauty pageant (it was a work night...what can I say?), but they were SO GOOD. The crust certainly was crispy - top and bottom! I found that I needed just a bit more vodka (about a teaspoon or two more) than the amount of water called for in the recipe. Also, work fast: the vodka evaporates...yes, that is the point of using it, but keep that in mind. I brushed the unbaked, assembled pies with half and half, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar to finish.

My next endeavor will be another variant on boozey, perfectly crumbly, flakey, and crispy pie crust: brandied apple pie. There is brandy IN THE CRUST! I have beautiful apples from the tree in my backyard, waiting patiently...

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  1. Great! I've been ~waiting~ for this test...Looks yummy and a great sucess. Can't wait to try the next attempt! ;-)

  2. What a great idea! I've heard of vinegar in crust, but Vodka is right up my alley. And, you can probably tell by my blog name, but I LOVE CRUST too. :)

  3. Dorothy, we love your blog too! I've saved a few of your recipes to try. I'd heard of the vinegar trick too, but I never tried it because I was afraid of my pie coming out of the oven smelling like...feet. The vodka left no taste or smell behind, only crispy, flakey crust! :) I can't wait to see how the brandy experiment turns out...

  4. Just sampled my FIRST blackberry hand pie with this crispy crust that J made...YUMMMMMMMMMMMOOOO! These are a perfect combination of sweet and tart in the filling and the crust is light and delicious. I'll need to try this very, very soon!!


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