Vodka Pie Crust. What’s The Benefit Besides the Obvious?

Although I’m still cautiously venturing through the land of BOOZY PIE RECIPES on my way to excellence, I have from time to time come across pie crust recipes that featured Vodka as a prominent ingredient. Like everyone else, the first thing that came to mind was, NICE! Another place, besides the fruity filling, where I can ‘infuse’ my dessert with a bit of alcohol. The more the merrier right? But be that as it may, there is another, just as important benefit to having Vodka Pie Crust.

Several years ago Cook’s Illustrated Magazine had come up with their ‘Foolproof Pie Dough‘ that featured Vodka in the recipe. At the time, I imagine it was probably a relatively new or rarely used ingredient in pie crust, but since then, you now see Vodka in variety recipes.

The recipe called for only a quarter cup of cold Vodka (and actually, if you didn’t have any Vodka on hand, the recipe did state that you could use any 80 proof alcohol), so it wasn’t much, especially if you thought it would maybe add a little ‘feel good’ to the deliciousness of the pie dish. But surprisingly, the reason Vodka was included in the recipe was a more ‘healthier’ a benefit.

Vodka Pie Crust Benefits

From Cook’s Illustrated – Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave us an easy-to-roll crust recipe with less gluten and no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.

In essence, more gluten bad, less gluten good, and Vodka is the key to this equation. Why is gluten bad for you? That is a wholly separate topic and one that is better explained on Paleo Leap’s 11 Ways Gluten and Wheat Can Damage Your Health. But for the meantime, and for the sake of argument, let’s just say, if there was any way to continue to devour good pie AND make it a bit more healthier than usual, most of us would probably take that route.

So apparently, Vodka CAN make your pie crust healthier than usual and that’s a good thing. So if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot, I know I will be. And if you don’t mind leaving in the comments your results or opinion on this, please do so – I would highly appreciate it!

To learn more about the negative effects of gluten, click here

4 Facts About Orange Cream Pie That’ll Keep You Up At Night

Remember when we were kids, frolicking in the Summer heat with friends, and we’d come inside after a long, sweaty game of tag? The air in the house almost uncomfortably chilly from the air conditioning. Remember how the first place you’d ‘raid’ was the kitchen, rummaging about the cupboard and refrigerator for anything sweet and even better, COLD! Remember, spotting that unmistakable box of ORANGE CREAMSICLES tucked in the freezer, yanking one out and biting into it? Crackling through the icy, orange-flavored shell and into that wonderfully, smooth vanilla cream center? You think THAT gives you great memories, let me give you 4 more!

creamsicle-box

This past weekend I made good on my promise to my daughter, that I’d make the frozen orange cream pie recipe that she’d been pining for over the last several months. After much whining, I finally decided to give in.

shortbread cookie crust prep

The recipe I used for the orange cream pie, I found over at A Mom’s Take. The recipe, by Janel at ‘A Mom’s Take’ was as simple and relatively quick as they came, so naturally it was my first choice!

shortbread cookie crust

Of course, when the time came to ‘pitch in’ and help, as I have required my daughter to do, each and every time she has requested a specific pie dish, she was no where to be found. That is, of course, until I started mixing together the vital ingredients for the orange cream filling!

[See the Frozen Orange Cream Pie recipe here at – A Mom’s Take]

cookie pie crust

She couldn’t wait to taste the filling! But then again, neither could I. I mean, we’re talking about re-creating one of the greatest, most prevalent, childhood memories ever known, in the form of a PIE?! Even I, The great and powerful PIE ADDICT was skeptical!

orange cream pie filling

But all that worry went down to the tummy as soon as I spooned a helping down the pie hole! I’m not going to get in to how it tasted, but trust me when I say this, it didn’t disappoint and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would taste like after having sat in the freezer for 24 hours.

orange-cream-pie05

The recipe made enough for a couple 9″ pie dishes but I opted for just one since this was still relatively new ground I was breaking here. I spooned the mix into one shortbread cookie crusted dish (note: the recipe called for a graham cracker crust, but as some of you may well know, I almost always substitute graham cracker crust for shortbread cookie crust), and tossed it into the freezer for its lengthy 24 hour hibernation.

Orange Cream Pie Recipe

I guess I don’t need to tell you how it came out or how it looked, but I will tell you how it tasted! It was like an orange creamsicle poured over a cookie crust, and yes, it tasted just as good as that just sounded! It was wonderful and maybe even more amazing than your typical orange creamsicle because it had not only vanilla ice cream in it but cool whip as well. Absolutely blew away my worries and low expectations.

So after having had the delightful opportunity to taste this wonderful dessert, let me now tell you 6 facts about orange cream pie that may just keep you up at night!

orange-cream-pie01

1. It’ll awaken the most dormant of happy childhood memories. I mentioned it before and I’ll say it again, creamsicles are one the staples of the American childhood and this orange cream pie recipe brings those memories front and center with every frosty flavorful bite.

2. It’s tough to resist scooping a spoonful. The orange cream pie is one of those pies that has you wanting to take a bite out of it every time you walk through the kitchen. I swear, it’s like some sort of subliminal whisper that beckons you to interrupt whatever it is you’re doing to open the freezer door. Weird.

3. You become possessive. You find yourself worried someone else has taken a piece or a ‘spoonful’ in your absence, while you were at work or ‘trying’ to sleep. You find yourself , sneaking into the kitchen at ungodly hours just to peek at it, and make sure all is well!

6. It’s probably not the most healthy of desserts, but then again, WHAT GOOD DESSERT IS? Hey, I’m not going to deny this probably ups your calorie intake substantially for the day, but every now and then you have to indulge! right? No? Well whatever, I say INDULGE! Live a little!

orange-cream-pie03

Don’t know what else to tell you, but as a PIE ADDICT I fully support your decision to TRY and ignore this post, though we both know RESISTANCE IS UTTERLY FUTILE!

For the full recipe and preparation steps, again, head over to Janel’s A Mom’s Take

The Ultimate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

HOW COULD OF I BEEN SO FOOLISH?! I recently spoke about Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and the vegetable Rhubarb, in particular, as I contemplated baking my very first strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. After having just DEVOURED a slice of a still warm, and very tart and juicy strawberry rhubarb pie dish, I am dumbfounded by my never having tried this most popular of dishes!

For the past week I have been telegraphing my intentions at ‘maybe’ baking a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, on Twitter and Facebook and all week I have been receiving feedback from friends that Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is one of the best pie recipes, like EVER!

Curiosity took me from ‘being on the fence’ to ‘through Hell or high water’ this pie was going to get made! So where to begin?
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

What Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe Did I use?

I had been reviewing strawberry rhubarb pie recipes all week in anticipation of making one and couldn’t quite make up my mind between the few that I found likable. My daughter, normally my pie baking sidekick was absolutely zero help since she was vehemently against me undertaking this latest venture…

  1. Cooking strawberries is wrong. ‘Who in the world ‘cooks’ strawberries Dad’ she stammered. ‘That’s disgusting’
  2. Puting a vegetable (rhubarb) in pie is totally disgusting!
  3. You were supposed to make me an orange cream pie?!So you’re messing up anyways!

Daughters…. what do you do with them, right?

But I did come across a couple relatively simple recipes that caught my eye. Only issue I had with them is that each had something from the other that I wanted in MY OWN STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE.

rhubarb pie recipe

I basically started on Oprah’s page (can’t go wrong with Oprah right?), found a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe by Cindy Crawford (yep, the former model…I know right?!), which initially caught my attention because she used cinnamon and nutmeg in her recipe. What turned me off was the use of flour in the mix, which if you know me, know I wasn’t very fond of that as a ‘juice thickening’ ingredient. About the same time, I came across a rhubarb pie recipe on Serious Eats that called for cornstarch in place of flour to thicken the juices. That I liked!

So with recipe(s) now in hand I drove forward…

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe Preparation

Please note that at the outset of this, I had serious reservations about rhubarb. I had NEVER tasted it, NEVER cooked it and certainly had NEVER, before today, eaten it, so everything about it made me a little uneasy. Hence, when the recipes called for ‘chopping’ the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces, I was like – NOPE! Too big! and instead I diced up my 3 cups or so of the tart veggie up pretty small.

From here on out, I followed the Serious Eats pie recipe, only borrowing the cinnamon/nutmeg idea from Cindy Crawford’s and chucking the rest.

My pie crust was made the night before (here is the recipe for that), so once the strawberry/rhubarb filling was ready to go, I dumped it into my 9-inch, glass pie dish, broke off a few pieces of butter, then covered it all up with my pie pastry topping. After giving it a washing of milk, sprinkling again with cinnamon and nutmeg and cutting slits in the top, I put into the oven for 45min (turning every 15min and placing foil around the edges to keep the crust from burning).

And, The Verdict?

In the days leading up to BAKE DAY, as I mentioned, I had spoken to a number of folks regarding strawberry rhubarb pie, and 9 out of 10 folks stated that it was indeed their favorite pie dish. The anticipation was KILLING ME, after I had taken the pie out of the oven and let it sit at rest for 30-40min.

First off, it was juicy! I had drained the excess juice from the strawberry/rhubarb/sugar mixture before placing in the pie dish, but still, despite the 5 tablespoons of corn starch, the juice was still fairly thin. Granted it may thicken up tomorrow, since pies typically are fairly juicy right out of the oven.

strawberry pie

The first thing I looked for when I cut into the pie, was the rhubarb. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the fear of seeing vegetables mixed in with my fruit pie, who knows. But I WAS looking for it. Surprisingly, the rhubarb had cooked into the strawberry filling pretty good, so I could barely see it.

From the slice of pie, now on my plate, I scooped up a mouthful and shoveled it in.

The crust was flaky and slightly crisped, but still soft and flavorful. The filling had a sharp, sweetened strawberry taste initially, which shortly turned into a slight tart after taste. Tart like a sweet tart. I had never had a pie dish quite like it, with both sweet and sour exploding throughout my mouth. It was different, but surprisingly good, and I found myself scarfing down the entire piece in no time at all. The tartness lingered, even after finishing, a testament to how tart rhubarb really is.

All in all, the strawberry rhubarb pie was a resounding success, and definitely a recipe I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting in the very near future.

What’s So Special About Rhubarb Strawberry Pie?

Boise is HOT! I mean yes, it is a HOT and AWESOME place to live and raise a family, but this past week has also been extremely HOT temperature-wise, with most days hovering in the low 100s. I know right?! So what’s the plan for this weekend? Besides taking my baking-sidekick daughter to see MINIONS, the weekend is relatively wide open, which for me means, IT’S BAKING TIME BABY!

Mom’s Latest Baking Project

My lovely mother, residing in Texas, if it were up to her would have me try out this ‘interesting’ apple pie recipe she recently stumbled on, called APPLE CHARLOTTE – featured on the FoodNetwork, and Trish’s Southern Cooking Show.
apple charlotte pie
I say ‘interesting’ because the crust, is made from ‘THIN SLICED WHITE BREAD.’ Yea, I know!

But Mom says the Apple Charlotte pie turned out surprisingly great and she has been swearing up and down all week that I HAVE to make and try (After all, if it hadn’t been for Mom I would’ve never embarked on my Pie Baking Adventures! So if she says its GOOD…it’s probably pretty GOOD!). She wants me to make it my weekend baking project as well. In fact, I think, she has maybe even gone out and purchased me a ‘Charlotte Mold’ online (the dish used in the recipe), but I’m not sure. I’ll let you know!

Unfortunately however, I have had my mind set on another, particularly interesting, yet VERY POPULAR pie dish, for the last couple weeks that will most likely occupy my schedule this weekend…

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Pie, however you want to say it, this particular dish has had me twisted up in curiosity for sometime now. And why? Mainly because I have NEVER had Rhubarb, and up until now, have never even seen let alone tasted Rhubarb, yet this plant is EXTREMELY popular.

WHAT IS RHUBARB?

Rhubarb is a VEGETABLE (yes, this is probably one of the PRIMARY reasons I have not even remotely considered using this in ANY of my sweet and succulent pie dishes!) with long, reddish, leafy stalks, similar to celery that have a strong tart taste. The plant’s leaf stalks have traditionally been cooked with sugar and used in a variety of pie and dessert recipes. [source: Wikipedia – Rhubarb]

Is Rhubarb Healthy for you?

Rhubarb is technically classified as a vegetable, so naturally the first thing that comes to mind is, is Rhubarb healthy for you? It would certainly add a little (just a little…) assurance that eating pie is GOOD FOR YOU! No? Whatever…hehehehe….

Apparently the Rhubarb root is high in fiber and was popular in ancient Chinese medicine for soothing stomach ailments and relieving constipation. But rhubarb also makes an effective poultice for relieving fevers and swelling. So it definitely has some important medicinal applications. Eat PIE relieve PAIN. I like it already!

What else…
Every serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value in vitamin K, which supports healthy bone growth and can limit neuronal damage in the brain, even to the point of Alzheimer’s prevention. It contains infection-fighter vitamin C, the second most prominent vitamin, along with vitamin A, another powerful natural antioxidant for good skin and mucous membranes, good vision, and possible protection against lung and mouth cancers (the red stalks provide more than the green ones), with healthy additions of folate, riboflavin, niacin, B-vitamins, and pantothenic acid. Good mineral sources include 32% of the daily value in manganese per serving, along with iron, potassium, and phosphorus.

While many believe milk is the best calcium source, one cup of cooked rhubarb contains just as much, and it’s actually much better for you. In fact, rhubarb is on the short list with salmon and spinach for the highest amounts of calcium it provides. [source: Food Facts]

So essentially, with a Rhubarb-infused pie, you don’t need to eat any vegetable anymore! My pie will be all you need! Yes!

What’s So Special About Rhubarb Strawberry Pie?

Naturally, after having been immersed, body and soul into pie baking over the last 6 months or so, there has been no avoiding discussions and praises ‘belched’ out across the digital landscape on the absolute deliciousness of Rhubarb Strawberry Pie. I mean, people SWEAR by it, with many of my friends proclaiming it easily their most favorite of pie dishes. WTH?! What have I been missing here?
rhubarb strawberry pie
So this weekend – Rhubarb and I will get acquainted, and I can’t wait to share it with you, because that would mean I would’ve already had the opportunity to eat pie and everyone knows I LOVE to eat pie!

Come back next week for my report!