Thursday, November 17

BAKING WITH VODKA

I'm preparing for Thanksgiving. That means pie and family. And that means baking and stiff drinks.

First, the stiff drink.

Poinsettia Cocktail
I first had this drink at Station 22 on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. Delicious and festive.

1/4 c. Vodka
1/4 c. Champagne/Prosecco
1/2 c. Cranberry juice
Lime wedge

(one serving)

photo courtesy of halfassedkitchen.com

And, now, the main event. The pie crust. As I've alluded to, it includes, among expected ingredients, vodka. Something to do with evaporation and flaky layers. I encourage you to read the recipe and comments on the Serious Eats site. If you don't, one or two times you will think things have gone terribly wrong. But with encouragement from the comments (and those who have gone before you), you can press on. It's originally from the folks at Cook's Illustrated, so you can rest assured that the recipe has been tested and retested (and then tested again).

photo courtesy of Serious Eats

Cook's Illustrated Fool-Proof Pie Dough

make one 9-inch double pie crust

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup cold vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.