There was one reason I learned to cook when I was very young: I wanted to eat more pie. After nearly 40 years of rolling out the dough, there’s not much new in pie-making that can impress. Still, even with a solid recipe and technique much can go wrong – doughs that are too tough, doughs that are too short and that the crack trying to get them in the pan, doughs that are sabotaged by substandard butter, shortening or lard, doughs that are just plain moody.
In all this time, the only “trick” I’ve liked and used regularly is stretching your cold water with vodka. Too much water can make the dough easier to handle, but extremely tough to eat. The vodka increases the pliability which actually tenderizing the gluten a bit before cooking away. That trick may be familiar as coming from Cooks Illustrated magazine or from one of the many books where they’ve republished the recipn. It turns out the guy who was working at Cooks and developed that recipe is J. Kenji López-Alt. He has since moved on from the magazine to become a senior editor at the SeriousEats website.
This is the week when folks make the recipes that come out only once a year. If you’re an infrequent pie maker, López-Alt has the pie crust for you. A caveat: it uses my least favorite kitchen machine, the hard-to-clean food processor, but if you cover the bowl with saran wrap before pulsing, the clean-up will be much easier. Also one thing he doesn’t mention: if your machine came with a plastic blade, possibly for kneading bread, use that.
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