Not Your Grandmother’s Pie Crust

Not Your Grandmother’s Pie Crust

I made a pie this week- which is a great big accomplishment for me! Actually it was two mini pies and it seemed a lot easier than messing around with one big pie, not sure why… Anyway, I used a pie crust recipe that I had tried a couple of years ago with success, so I thought why not try it again, why mess with success?   Pie makes me nervous.  It actually makes me insecure about my baking abilities because I never have been able to make a good pie (outside of pumpkin) that I would serve to my family. They have always been my willing guinea pigs and I hate to disappoint them!   Something is ALWAYS wrong with my pies (except pumpkin)-soggy crust, filling not cooked enough, runny filling, crust is burnt, blah blah blah  you get the picture.  Well these mini pies turned out pretty good, filling and all! And they weren’t pumpkin!
The crust actually has vodka in it and makes it tasty!  The crust will seem a little soggy when working with it but don’t worry, just flour your work surface and rolling pin.  If I can make it work, so can you!  Trust me, and perhaps you should pour yourself a shot while rolling out crust, just a thought.
If the filling recipe here seems a little intense, it is.  So my shortcut was to use dried cranberries and I just cooked that with the apples-no big deal and I like the taste of dried cranberries anyway! You cannot always find fresh/frozen cranberries around here.   I also season to taste and I added a splash of nutmeg to the filling.  Why not?-I like the way it tastes with apples.
So if pie makes you nervous too,  just keep the bottle of vodka nearby and things will run smoothly! :)
Let me know how it works out for you.
Pictures and Recipe follows
butter, shortening and flour mixture in food processor
after pulsing butter and shortening into flour mixture

adding the chilled vodka.

apples with the cranberries cooking down

Chill the dough thoroughly prior to rolling out – it must be cold cold cold!  I have two of the cutest little mini antique pie tins that I used.  Not only are these little pies  single serving size they are small enough that it makes the dough easier to handle for me!  Less chance of ripping and tearing when transferring to the tin. 

Make sure you spice it up the way you want it spiced u.  You could even add raisins…if you like them.  Or maybe even mix some pears into the filling with the apples…hmmmmmm 

crusts in mini pie tins

looking pretty good!Since I had so much dough leftover I cut out two rounds and plopped one on the top of each pie.

 Yeah, I ate one- the whole thing! It was a MINI pie, remember!
Recipe that follows is courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

Vodka Pie Crust

2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus additional of work surface

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch slices

8 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces

¼ cup cold vodka

¼ cup cold water

 Process 1 ½ cups of flour with the salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.  Add butter and shortening and process until dough forms and just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds, it will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no dry flour at this point.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and redistribute around the processor blade.  Add remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up.  Empty mixture into a medium mixing bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.  With rubber scraper use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together.  Dough should be slightly tacky at this point.  Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4 inch disk.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days before rolling.

Apple Cranberry Pie Filling

2 cups of frozen or fresh cranberries

¼ cup oranges juice

1 cup granulated Sugar plus 1 Tbsp for top of pie

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

¼ cup water

3 ½ pounds of sweet apples (6-7 medium) peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch thick slices

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten lightly

Bring cranberries, orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ tsp salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, pressing cranberries against side of pot with spoon, until cranberries have completely broken down and juices have thickened to jam like consistency.  (wooden spoon scraped across bottom should leave clear trail which doesn’t fill in), 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in water and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile, toss apples with remaining ½ cup sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ tsp salt in large bowl until combined.  Transfer apples to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat stirring frequently, until apples are tender when poked with a fork but still hold their shape 15-25 minutes.  Set large colander over now-empty bowl transfer apples to colander.  Shake colander to drain off as much liquid as possible; return apples to Dutch oven.  Whisk 1/3 cup apple liquid and cornstarch in small bowl; discard remaining liquid.  Return Dutch oven to medium heat and stir in apple juice mixture.  Cook, stirring requently, until apples are slightly translucent and juices are thick and syrupy about 2 minutes.  Spread apples in a rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temperature about 30 minutes (really? I didn’t do this)

Truthfully- I mixed everything together using dried cranberries

While fillings cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie plate, leaving at least 1 inch overhang on each side.  Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand.  Leave dough that overhangs plate in place, refrigerate until dough is firm about 30 minutes.

Transfer cooled cranberry mixture to dough lined pie plate, and spread into even layer.  Transfer apple mixture on top of cranberries mounding slightly in center, push down any sharp apple edges.

For a top crust:

Roll second disk of dough on generously floured work surface to 12 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.   Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1 inch overhang on each side.

Using kitchen shears, cut evenly through both layers of overhanging dough, leaving ½ inch overhang.  Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate.  Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal.  Brush top of edges of pie with egg white and sprinkle with tablespoon sugar.  Using sharp paring knife, cut for 1 ½ inch slits in top of dough in cross pattern of pattern of your heart’s desire.

Place pie on pre heated baking sheet and bake until top is light golden brown 20-25 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees, rotate pie, and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown 25-30 minutes.  Transfer pie to wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours.


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