This recipe makes 4 dough rounds (enough for two double-crust pies or 4 single-crust). Cut it in half if you prefer. If you don’t have coarse salt, use ¾ teaspoon table salt. To cut up the sticks of butter into 32 pieces, cut each stick in quarters lengthwise, then make 8 crosswise cuts. Don’t worry about being exact about this – the point is just to get small enough pieces that they mix in quickly. If you don’t have vodka, don’t worry — just use more ice water.  And if you have a kitchen scale, use it!

  • 1 pound, 6 ounces (5 cups) all-purpose flour (preferably bleached, and preferably a Southern flour, such as White Lily or Martha White)
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) granulated sugar (reduce to 3 tablespoons for savory pies)
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) butter, each stick cut into 32 pieces, frozen or very cold
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons iced water

Put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle on low speed for 30 seconds. Add butter and mix on a low or medium speed until the butter is in small pieces: the mixture should feel crumbly, with pea-size pieces of butter. Add the vodka and 5 tablespoons of water and mix on low speed until dough just begins to hold together. If it’s very dry, add another tablespoon of water.

Turn dough onto a work surface and gently press together into a ball, sprinkling with another tablespoon of water if needed. With a knife or bench knife, divide dough into quarters. Pat each quarter into a thick disk, and gently roll each disk on its edge to smooth it. (To freeze the dough at this point, wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and freeze in freezer bags with all the air pressed out. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with recipe.)

Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour , and begin to roll out a disk into an 11-inch circle. As you roll, push from the center of the dough out, easing pressure on the rolling pin just before getting to the edge of the dough. Give the dough a one-third turn (not a quarter-turn, or you end up with a square), dusting underneath with more flour if needed, and repeat until you’ve reached 11 inches. (To freeze the dough rounds at this point, stack them on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan, separated by pieces of parchment, freeze until solid, then wrap each airtight in plastic wrap and foil, or plastic wrap and a freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature; if thawing on the counter, keep a close eye so it doesn’t get too warm – it should be barely pliable.)

Gently fold the dough in quarters to transfer to a pie plate, unfold, and gently tuck it into the sides of the plate. Don’t stretch or push it, or the dough will shrink when it bakes. Cut the overhanging dough so you have about an inch of excess all around, fold the excess under so it rests on the lip of the pie plate, and crimp. Chill while you prepare the filling. (To freeze the dough at this point, freeze it until firm, then securely wrap the plate.)

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