I've been making pie for a long time, in fact there was a time in my life that I was making pie every single day as part of my full time job, and I've seen a lot of recipes. Some good, some bad, but for the last 5 years I have stuck to a tried and true veganised version of my grandma's crust recipe. Heavy on the fat (solidified coconut oil or veg shortening - both do the trick but one is obviously healthier than the other, and sometimes I add vegan sour cream [Tofutti sour supreme is good!] to the mix too...) flour, salt and ice cold water. And its a beautiful, simple, flaky pie crust with the perfect texture, flavor and color - the whole shebang.
But, recently, I was doing some weekend reading about pie crust, and saw an article about adding vodka to your pie dough. I figured it was worth trying - so I subbed out 1/4 cup of water for 1/4 cup of vodka and the results were pretty great.
Here's what you'll need for the crust:
1 1/4 cup of solid unrefined, pure coconut oil
2 cup flour (self rising)
1 tsp salt
1/8 cup vodka (chilled) - the quality or brand doesn't matter.
1/8 cup ice cold water
The use of vodka inhibits the development of gluten in the dough ( alcohol molecules interact with gluten proteins and restrict the formation of those springy networks found in glutenous foods - so by adding vodka, you are able to add more liquid but not add more gluten, and that results in a flaky crust...) and since vodka has such a high alcohol content, it mostly evaporates during baking and leaves behind the fats in coconut oil and that is what makes the pie crust so good.
Add flour, coconut oil and salt to a food processor, and pulse until your dough is crumbly. Add vodka and 1/16 cup of ice water, pulse for just a few seconds. Dump out on a clean, floured surface and fold the dough until combined. if your dough feels stiff (it shouldn't, but I've been doing this long enough to know that weather, temp of your house, the mood of the universe all play a factor into making confections so just be flexible,) fold in the rest of the water. Your dough will be sticky, so wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Since I have a freezer full of blackberries right now (we have an endless supply growing out in the wild here!) almost everything I've been baking includes blackberries, and I am 100% ok with that. I filled up my 10 inch cast iron skillet with blackberries, a generous cup of sugar (organic, certified vegan) and since I ran out of arrowroot, I used cornstarch. I stirred in 1/4 cup of cornstarch in to the very hot blackberry sugar mixture (give or take, I tend to add a little at a time until the consistency is right.)
Split your pie dough into two equal pieces. Roll out 1/2 of your chilled crust into a pie dish (I use clay, because it bakes evenly) and add your cooled pie filling. roll out the second half and using a small round cookie cutter (or the lid to something, about 1 inch across) make 6 circles in a crescent shape. Don't toss the circle cut-outs. Move your rolled out top to the top of the pie, carefully, so you don't rip the fragile connections between the circles (I did, but easily fixed the tears with a little almond milk brush and some patch pieces of dough...)
Using the cookie cutter or lid, cut out crescent shapes matching the phases of the moon - one slim crescent, one half moon, and one almost full moon, and one very full moon. You can use a toothpick or fork to make indents in the moon, to represent craters. I also used a toothpick to poke holes in the top crust to represent stars, but next time may make them a little more pronounced. Brush the top of your pie with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Check to see if it is a golden brown, and if it's still looking a little light, add another 5 minutes to the bake time. Enjoy with whipped coconut cream! I have a few more ideas for baking with alcohol, but I am pretty pleased with this little alteration to a pie crust that I love so much!