Chow Bella

Andy's Vermouth Shortbread Pie Crust

Today in AndyTalk, Chef Andy Broder shares his secret to perfect pie crust.

I grew up thinking that pies were exotic and seemingly foreign -- a mysterious food created in the kitchens of gentiles (I remember nary a pie in the bakery section of the delicatessen).

We had pie once a year. At Thanksgiving my grandmother made three pies - two pumpkin and one lemon chiffon. Her crusts were store-bought, but I loved those pies. One day I decided to take a walk on the wild side; I made a pie of my own. I made a pretty good apple filling but used a store-bought crust. The crust was a rookie mistake, and I learned an important lesson with that first pie; the secret to good pie is good crust.

The one thing all pies have in common is crust. Despite the ubiquity at the bottom of every pie, a good crust is often hard to find. The problem for most people is that they do not make enough pies to become crust-proficient. The solution is a foolproof crust.

Get Andy's recipe for Vermouth Shortbread Pie Crust after the jump.

My favorite pie crust is made with sugar, vermouth, and a lot of butter. It's a kind of shortbread, which means that it melts in your mouth even if you don't know when to stop kneading. Standard crust recipes often include 3 to 5 tablespoons of cold water. A person who makes a pie or two a year should have the luxury of a recipe that doesn't require a judgment call.

The recipe for my Vermouth Piecrust (below) is as close to foolproof as a recipe can be. I have the luxury of having seen hundreds of people actually make the dough and succeed. You can actually make cookies from this dough -- form walnut-size balls, flatten them into discs, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 F until golden. Easy as pie.

With regard to the vermouth; you can substitute Marsala or Sherry. I've even used bourbon. The alcohol contributes to the tenderness of the dough. In a pinch you can use water with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, but it's not quite as good.

Jonathan Swift got it right when he said, "promises and pie-crust are made to be broken." It is with the promise of good crust that I offer the following recipe.

AndyFood Vermouth Shortbread Piecrust
Makes 2 crusts

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup Vermouth
  1. Use your fingers to combine flour, sugar, and butter into a uniform crumbly mixture.
  2. Whisk together the egg and vermouth. Add the vermouth mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough form the bowl and knead for a minute or two.
  3. Form the dough into a disc 1-inch thick, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 15 minutes before rolling out. (You can make the dough 1 day ahead; remove the dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes before rolling out).
  4. Cut the dough in half. Shape each half into a circle. On a floured surface roll into a circle 1-inch bigger than your pie pan. Transfer to the pie pan, trim the excess dough, fill, and bake according the filling instructions.

Note: if you have trouble rolling the dough you can press the crust into the pan. It won't be as pretty, but it will taste just as good.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Andy Broder