Many of us will be overindulging in a variety of pies this Christmas. But did you know that alcohol is actually good for your pie? In a video by UCLA biophysicist Amy Rowat reveals the scientific secret to making good pie. The UCLA suggest adding vodka to your pastry, among other things, in order to achieve the perfect crust.
In an article by The Washington Post they add:
When it’s time to add water to the dough, make sure it’s cold (for the same reason as above) but also consider replacing some of it (about half) with vodka.
When water is added to wheat flour, the proteins inside the flour connect to form networks of gluten. That’s great for dense baked goods like bagels, but you want to limit that interaction in a flaky dessert.
For starters, pick the right flour — one without too much protein. Pastry flour will make your crust crumble, but cake flour will be way too dense. Go with all-purpose flour.
Then pick the right booze. Vodka is a classic choice, but you can actually pick any high-proof liquor you please. The proteins in flour don’t bond in alcohol, so it’s a liquid that moistens the dough without toughening it.
Don’t worry about serving your boozy pie to young or abstaining holiday guests: The heat of the oven will burn off most of the alcohol.
Vodka won’t change the flavor of your pie crust one bit. But you can get adventurous and try out more flavorful alcohol to find one that will compliment your pie recipe. (Bourbon pecan, anyone?)
The science behind using alcohol is explained in the video above. In summary the UCLA say:
…alcohol creates a more tender, flaky crust than can be easily achieved with water alone. This happens because alcohol and water have very different effects on the formation of springy gluten networks in pie dough.
If you fancy trying your hand at creating an alcohol based pie crust the UCLA have a Foolpoof Vodka Pie Crust recipe at: http://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/boozy-apple-pie/