I decided to try a new pie crust recipe. This new recipe calls for vodka, so I knew it would be marvelous.
Full of enthusiasm to try something new, I headed out to our orchard to get some apples. The tree was literally hanging with ripe fruit, and being the food hoarder that I am, it bothered me to see apples that were starting to fall to the ground below. The timing of apple picking and new pie crust recipe was perfect.
My husband and son came out to help with the picking, or at least I thought they were there to give me a hand. After picking for approximately 10 minutes, I could hear my ‘help’ deteriorating into conversations that sounded like this…. “Hey Dad do you think I can hit you in the head from here?”…. “OK move back farther that was too easy”…. “Oh jeez, do you think I broke the window?” … “Mom, there’s a big spider on your shoulder” … “Just kidding, relax mom, I’m kidding.”
In spite of the wonderful help available, we were able to pick approximately ten thousand pounds of apples from one tree in 20 minutes. Maybe ten thousand pounds isn’t accurate, but it was a lot of apples. It might have been twenty thousand pounds.
So begins the annual fall preserving season. I really enjoy preserving food that we grow ourselves. There’s nothing quite like pulling an apple pie out of the oven in January, made with fruit from your own trees. Especially an apple pie with vodka crust!
The theory behind adding vodka to your pie pastry is that when you use vodka in place of some of the water, the vodka will evaporate in the oven during baking, leaving your pastry light and flaky. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to this theory, but it sounded like something worth trying.
Here’s the recipe for vodka pastry:
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 lb lard (I use the Tenderflake brand)
1 tbsp vinegar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup vodka
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut in the lard with either a butter knife or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse oatmeal.
In a measuring cup, combine the vinegar and egg. Mix together well, then add 1/3 cup of vodka. Try very hard not to drink the vodka….or at least set aside 1/3 cup before you start baking. It’s sad when you are in the middle of a recipe and suddenly you realize there’s an ingredient missing. It seems even sadder after you’ve been drinking vodka.
Mix together the egg, vinegar, vodka mixture and add 1/3 cup of cold water. Gradually stir the liquid ingredients into the flour/lard mixture. It’s not necessary to add all of the liquid to the dough. If it is clinging together well after only some of the liquid has been added, don’t add any more. If it seems a bit dry after adding all of the liquid, add a little more vodka…or water…but adding vodka seems better.
Form the dough into six small balls, wrap and refrigerate them until you are ready to use them. If they are wrapped well, you can also freeze them until you have time to bake later.
There was no need to refrigerate our dough; it was made directly into apple pies. I measured 5 cups of sliced apples, and added 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour and ½ tsp of cinnamon to the bowl of apple slices. Pour this apple mixture into a prepared vodka crust pastry, and cover with another. Seal the pastry by pressing it around the edge with a fork and cut some vent holes in the top of the pie.
Bake at 350F on the bottom rack in your oven for approximately 45 minutes and you will have a beautiful apple pie with vodka crust.
My helpers were back when the pie came out of the oven. They were gracious enough to taste test, and quickly reported that the crust was very flaky with no vodka taste whatsoever. I’m not sure if it is any flakier than other pie crusts have been, but it was a fun experiment to try.
You might be wondering why this crust is considered environmentally friendly. I refer to it being environmentally friendly because it uses less water. In our efforts to conserve our most basic environmental resource, it feels good knowing that we are doing our part. So what we have learned today is that vodka is a good replacement for water. I wouldn’t recommend replacing water with vodka when preparing cereal for a baby, but I might try it in my porridge tomorrow morning. Who knew it would be so versatile!
Happy baking my friends!!
“A pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze” – Auntie Zena