My mom made good pies and her crusts were most always made with shortening, not butter, although a few times, I knew she used lard. When I was first married, I used only shortening; the recipe from The Betty Crocker cookbook, but then I took a pastry course at the CIA and learned it was butter that made the best pate brisee. Of course, you had to be careful not to overwork the dough and form gluten! I developed my own recipe that I've used so many times before on my blog, incorporating vinegar, large egg, and baking powder to give a Never-Fail Pie Dough that even with over working, it's still flakey. However, the use of vodka stilled "called my name" and after making up pie dough today, I will never go back to anything else!
Fail-Proof Pie Crust
12 T ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c (8T) vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
Place the butter and shortening on separate plates and chill in the freezer at least 30 minutes. Also, in a 1-cup measure, add cold water and ice cubes and allow to chill.
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (divided)
2 T granulated sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup chilled water
1/4 cup chilled vodka
In a food processor, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar and salt and pulse a couple of times to incorporate. Take the butter and shortening out of the freezer and scatter on top of the dry ingredients. Pulse until no uneven clumps exist. Add 1 cup flour and pulse 4 to 6 times.
Do not add the liquid to the food processor, but rather transfer this mixture to a large bowl. Pour the water and vodka over the surface and use a rubber spatula to stir until the dough sticks together.
Lots of fruits and berries will be coming our way over the new few months of Spring/Summer; give this dough a try and see how wonderful it is. Enjoy!