LOOKING for: Pie crust made with butter

duchampNovember 27, 2011

I had a fantastic apple pie at Thanksgiving and the crust was made with butter, not lard. I forgot to ask for the recipe... darnit, it was SO good - TENDER and not tasteless.

If anyone has a recipe for a tried & true butter crust that will be tender, please share. Oh, and, please also provide any tips you may have, as I have never made a pie crust from scratch! Thank you :)

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Stick of butter...very cold
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the butter into small cubes....the easiest way is to make 2 knife cuts down the length of the cold stick and cut into dice.
I mix the butter and flour in the food processor but you can do it by hand if you wish, then dump into a bowl.
Toss the flour and butter mix with a shot of vodka...1 1/2 oz ( Yes! Vodka!!)
Then add another shot of ice water....tossing not stirring the dough....and add a little more water if you need it to hang together.
Make into a flat ball, chill and roll out.
The vodka evaporated quickly in a hot oven providing more flaky layers.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 11:44AM
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If you don't care to have vodka in the house you can use an egg instead.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:13AM
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No....egg makes a "cakey" crust....for a really flavorful and flaky crust...vodka is the ticket....but rather than adding an egg, use water if for some reason you object to having vodka around.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Use apple cider vinegar in place of the water or Vodka for a flakier crust.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Linda, I just came across your pie crust recipe made with vodka and I'm intrigued. Pie crust is one thing I've never mastered. Maybe this is the secret I've been looking for. Can't wait to try it.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 5:14PM
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I just realized this was a year old thread.

Anyhow, if anyone ever reads it again - pie crust isn't all that hard to make. Just remember that what you're doing is shortening the flour, in other words you're rubbing grease onto the flour grains and that prevents the gluten from linking up too easily and making a chewy, rubbery crust. You want to develop gluten in bread, you don't want it in crust.

What would you use besides butter?

Maybe duck fat or even lard. Don't use margarines or commercial shortenings - they ruin the dough and leave a horrible coating on your mouth and to their credit, the good folks at the NYC Dept of Health banned them in baked goods.

Butter has different amounts of water / butterfat ratios. That water isn't going to work on your crust like the water you add to the dough, but it will have an effect on the final product.

When you cut the butter in, make sure you leave some larger pieces - pea size for example. It shouldn't be all uniform, which can happen if you use a food processor and run it too long. Pulse it.

I always add the water by hand. Add a bit then pinch it together with your fingers. Toss those bits aside and add some more to the dry stuff. It's hard to give precise measurements because you have to go by feel, but figure one part butter to 3 parts flour and slightly less than one part water. And a bit of salt. So in measuring cups, that's like a stick of butter, 1 1/2 cups flour, and somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cups of flour.

And obviously you can vary those proportions - a little more flour, a little less flour, and your need for water will change accordingly.

So add the water by hand and just gently work it with a fork and / or your fingers to make the clumps of dough stick together. Then gather them into a ball and smear the mass across the counter with the heal of your hand. You don't want to knead the dough like bread, but just smear it once or twice. The French call this fraisage and the purpose is to distribute the water and fat. Then gather into a ball and let it rest.

Don't roll it right away. Leave it for an hour or more - you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to handle once it rests.

The globs of butter you've distributed thru the dough when you rolled it out will melt, the water will create steam, and that will fill the vacuum created by the butter, blowing the crust apart into flakes. If your butter has a higher water content than some, you'll get a harder crust than if it's got a higher fat content - that's because the moisture will be incorporated throughout the crust with the butter. But even with the widely available commercial butters, you'll get a delicious crust.

Duck or goose fat make a beautiful crust as well, as does good lard. The texture will differ however, as the water content is different from butter. Also, if you're using rendered duck fat, you may want to eliminate the salt from the dough if the duck has been salted. But taste and adjust accordingly.

Any liquid will work, but water is the basic one. Milk contains some fat and solids. Cider, which I use sometimes, contains sugars, which affect the taste - not always for the worse. Vinegar and/or lemon juice also affect the flavor. Cold stock, which is kind of cool to use if you're using duck fat or lard, will have it's own seasonings and may have additional salt.

Make sure the liquid is cold - you don't want to melt the fat at all, or make it too warm. It's tricky to use duck fat because it melts so quickly, so you have to work extra fast.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 5:36PM
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