When it comes to pie crust, I’m the first to reach for that trusty store-bought Pillsbury.
But when Bon Appetit tells you to go homemade, and to put vodka in the dough, you listen. You listen hard. And then you get the most impossibly tender, flaky, perfect pie crust of your LIFE. In addition to the recipe itself, I’m giving you a few additional directives …
Tips for a perfect homemade pie crust:
- Vodka is necessary because, well, SCIENCE. The liquid helps keep the dough pliable and workable without over-developing the gluten. It cooks off in the oven, leaving a flaky, layered crust.
- Cut the butter into small pieces, about 1/2 inch or even a little smaller.
- And speaking of butter, use the good stuff. Kerrygold is my go-to.
- Don’t use a food processor. I’ve used recipes that call for using a food processor to incorporate the chilled butter and flour, while pouring in small amounts of liquid to form the dough. From my experience, this over processes the dough and yields denser, far less delicious results. BA’s method instructs to use your hands to massage the flour into the chunks of butter.
- Don’t skip the step of separating out some of the dryer, shaggier dough, then adding more liquid to the remaining dough (steps 2 and 3 below). This ensures that, when you combine the two, you’ll maintain some big chunky pieces of butter, which makes for … you guessed it … a flakier crust.
And some more general pie tips:
- BA recipe calls for halving the strawberries, but I quartered them because I like a more jammy filling (vs. bigger chunks of fruit).
- After the pie is done cooking you MUST let it cook for several hours. I know, I know. I actually ended up breaking off a small piece of crust and dipping it into the filling that was oozing from one my top-crust flour cut outs … #sorrynotsorry. BUT, waiting to cut the pie allows it to set, which not only results in better presentation, but also better flavor and consistency.
The BEST strawberry rhubarb pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit recipe.Total Time 2 hours
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1 egg for brushing on crust
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 5 tbsp flour
Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces and chill for 5-10 minutes in freezer. Mix, in a large bowl, with dry dough ingredients to coat the butter. Quickly massage mixture with your hands to flatten pieces of butter into the flour. You should have a mix of flat, shaggy bits of butter, and some large fatter pieces.
Add about half of the liquid ingredients and incorporate into dough with your hands. You'll have a shaggy, dry dough. Remove about half of the dough and put on a floured work surface.
Slowly add more of the liquid mixture until the remaining half of the dough in the bowl is more moist and pliable. Quickly combine with the dryer dough on work surface and press down to flatten; fold over and press down again; divide the dough in half and form into 2 equally sized disks (an inch or so thick). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or longer.
After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 425°. Let the dough sit out for 5 minutes. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll dough out, one disk at a time, to about 1/8 inch thick. Press the first rolled out dough into your pie dish and trim the edges.
Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl and pour into the pie crust. Use the other rolled out dough to cover the top of the pie. BA's recipe calls for scoring the top pie crust, but I recommend something a little more Pinterest-worthy 😉 I used these little cake decorating tools to cut shapes out of the top pie crust before laying it on top of the pie.
Beat the egg and brush it onto the top pie crust. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375°. Keep an eye on the pie--if the crust seems to be cooking to quickly, lower the temp another 25 degrees. Cook for 75-90 minutes total.