The secret to this crust recipe being foolproof is the use of vodka, and Cook’s Illustrated can give you all scientific know-how but basically the vodka prevents gluten from forming in the crust, which makes it turn out tough. Water makes gluten form, but you need water to make crust, so essentially you need something that’s wet without being water and vodka is the ticket – it’s only 60% water and the 40% alcohol evaporates away during baking, leaving perfect crust every time.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) COLD unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1/2 cup COLD vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup COLD vodka (any sensible person keeps vodka in the freezer anyway)
- 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 homogenous 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 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 into 4-inch disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.