Nothing is easier than preparing a delicious, homemade buttery and flaky pie crust to prepare delicious savory or sweet desserts. All that is needed is chilled flour and butter, a little salt and some very cold water for hydration. Let's get started!
Cube the butter and return to the refrigerator or freezer to chill while the flour and salt are measured out. Keeping all ingredients chilled is imperative to create a light and flaky crust.
Pour the flour into a large capacity bowl. In hot months even the flour must be set in the freezer in order to get it as cold as possible.
Add the salt to the flour, mixing everything thoroughly.
Take about 1/3 of the chilled, cubed butter and add it to the flour. With your fingers, press the cubes of butter into the flour.
Once mostly incorporated, grab a handful of flour at a time, and mix with the butter by rubbing everything between both hands, as shown in the video. This will ensure that every bit of the flour is coated with the fat of the butter.
From here on, the trick will be to keep an eye on the consistency of the flour and fat. Using a pastry cutter, cut the rest of the butter into the dry ingredients. The result should be a crumbly consistency with pea-size bits of butter still visible.
Add part of the chilled water and all of the Vodka to the flour. Immediately toss the flour with your hands, as if tossing a salad. Continue adding the water using the same method until the flour is moist. A small amount of Vodka gives more liquid without affecting the gluten in the flour. The amount of hydration needed in a pie crust will change from batch to batch. Too much hydration will result into a sticky dough, one that is chewy and tough. For this reason it is important NOT to pour all the liquid in at once. One good way to find out if the dough is ready, is to simply press some of the still loose mixture together with your fingers. If it holds and sticks together, it is ready. If there is still loose, powdery flour add just a little more water.
Transfer the shaggy dough to a clean work surface. The secret to a light and flaky crust is to allow pea size bits of butter to remain in the dough giving it a marbled appearance. Quickly bring all ingredients together with a rubber spatula or a bench scraper, thus avoiding using the warmth of your hands.
Once the dough has been brought together, use your hands to shape it into a cylinder.
Divide the dough into equal portions and cover each with plastic wrap. When covered, with the help of both hands gently form the dough into a disk by pressing not only the top, but also pressing the sides to give them a smooth edge, as shown in the video.
If planning to roll out the dough the same day, place it into the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. **If not using the same day, the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or frozen.
When ready to roll out, remove the dough from the refrigerator, lightly dust the work surface with flour, and quickly roll it out. If the dough was previously frozen take it out the night before and place into the refrigerator to thaw. Happy baking!
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