The secret here, as with so many good things, is booze. Vodka is subbed for half of the water and the alcohol completely evaporates in the oven. You won’t taste it at all but the evaporation creates thin, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth layers.
You can mix this up to match whichever filling you choose. Vodka is the default choice because it leaves no trace of flavor once the alcohol cooks off. I’ve used bourbon instead of vodka and sprinkled brown sugar on top for both peach pie and apple pie, because those flavors go so well together. Just make sure the alcohol is sufficiently high-proof so that it will evaporate during baking.
I like to make a double batch around the holidays and freeze it in disks. It takes less than fifteen minutes to roll out, fill, and top a pie with made-ahead dough. You can slide the pie in the oven just as you’re sitting down to dinner and it’ll be ready for dessert an hour later!
Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust
- 2½ cups flour
- 1 t. salt
- 2 T. sugar
- 12 T. butter cold & sliced
- ½ cup shortening cold & sliced
- ¼ cup vodka cold
- ¼ cup water cold
- rolling flour
- egg white
- Combine 1½ cups flour, salt, and sugar.
- Add butter and shortening and cream until broken into small clumps.
- Add remaining 1 cup flour and combine until just incorporated.
- Sprinkle vodka and water over dough and fold together. It’s perfectly okay if there are lumps of butter, just don’t overprocess.
- Divide into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into disks. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Sprinkle rolling surface with flour and roll first disk out. Line your pie plate, making sure there’s a little overhang all around.
- Fill as desired.
- Roll the remaining disk out into a rectangle and cut into ten 1” strips. Lay five strips evenly spaced over the filling in the same direction, then lattice the other five perpendicularly.
- Cut overhanging dough off and pinch edges together all the way around.
- Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Set the pie plate on top of a baking sheet in case the filling bubbles over.
- Bake at 400° for 30 minutes on the lowest rack. Reduce heat to 350° and bake an additional 30 minutes.