Vodka Pie Crust by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim


Yield: Two 8 to 10-inch single-crust pies or one double-crust pie

I've been working on this recipe for years and love the results. It's been rewritten and improved every few months. It's particularly great for decorative pies or anyone new to pie making because the vodka makes it very pliable. By using both butter and shortening, it creates a silky consistency. Vodka may seem to be the star, which does help reduce the formation of gluten, but I think technique reigns supreme for success. The key is evenly distributed butter and flour, which is easy to control in a food processor if you use the pulse feature. Big butter chunks may seem ideal, but they create an unevenly textured pie.  For another simple dough I prefer to make by hand, try my Buttermilk Pie Dough.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen in advance. I prefer Vermont Creamery European butter

1/2 cup vodka

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons shortening, frozen


  1. Pour vodka into a liquid measuring cup, then add several ice cubes. Wait until vodka is chilled and remove ice after a few minutes. Vodka water mixture should reach 3/4 cup measurement. (If you prefer to use less vodka, try 1/3 cup vodka with 1/4 cup ice water.)

  2. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl; add frozen butter and shortening. Toss together quickly with your hands to coat each piece of butter and shortening with flour mixture, helps ensure an even dough. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse 2 to 3 times until the size of chick peas.

  3. Pour vodka mixture through feed tube in a steady stream while constantly pulsing until dough begins to pull together. Avoid running the machine automatically or it may overmix. Butter and shortening should be about the size of dried lentils. Pro tip: Pour all the liquid into the feed tube, it's designed to stream an even amount and will help absorb all the flour evenly if you keep pulsing.

  4. Carefully turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and remove the blade. The dough is very hydrated, so use bench flour when needed. Working on marble or granite countertop will help keep the dough cool. Knead dough until smooth, turn 5 to 6 times.

  5. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and shape the dough into a round or rectangle. I find the dough will stay cooler if it's shape after wrapping and it reduces the need for additional bench flour. If you are using a round pie dish, shape dough into a flattened disk or rectangle if you are making a galette or lattice strips; this will help eliminate wastage. Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.

  6. You can freeze the dough up to 3 months, just wrap well. If you have left over scraps I cut them into manageable pieces and wrap them in parchment paper and stack the pieces. The parchment will prevent them from sticking. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly and freeze to use for cut outs on a future pie. Or cut out decorative pieces using a pie cutter and freeze in a single layer, when frozen solid keep in air tight plastic container.


If you desire a decorative pie using cut out shapes, try purchasing pie cutters at a local specialty store, Williams Sonoma or online such as Amazon . Cookie cutters are another favorite. Generally I prefer pie cutters since they give a detailed impression mark due to their plunger design. The texture will give a rich detail to your pie.

Using pie cutters is a great way to use excess dough. Keep pastry cut outs in the freezer and bake them off as needed. Brushing with cream or an egg wash will make them golden. I suggest using them for a topping on desserts like ice cream or berries with whipped cream. I've even been known to put them with skillet eggs and arugula. 

If you want to layer a lot of cut outs on your pie such as a fallen leaf layout, roll the dough a bit thinner since they will overlap. Cut out the shapes and place in a single layer on a parchment lined quarter sheet pan or any tray that will fit in the freezer. Once frozen use the them right away or stack the shapes into an airtight container for future use. The shapes can be scattered all over a fruit pie in place of a top crust.

For a custard pie that requires blind baking, create the pie cut outs a few hours in advance or the day before and freeze them solid. This will help them resist heat to maintain their shape and placement while baking. Roll the bottom layer 1/8-inch thick, place into a pie dish and trim neatly with scissors or a sharp paring knife. The shapes can be attached to a simple crust and form a wreath by brushing the backside with heavy cream. Freeze pie crust for about 5 to 10 minutes before blind baking. Pro tip: preheat oven with Baking Steel or your favorite pizza stone. There's no need to blind bake the pie! Place your pie dish on top of a rimmed sheet pan and place on top of the Baking Steel, and your bottom crust is be crispy. Eliminating blind baking is a huge time saver. I bake all my regular and custard pies on the steel, I just left it in the oven.

* recipe updated August 2018

Farmstand Berry Skillet Cake by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim

Farmstand Berry Skillet Cake

Yield: One 8 or 10-inch skillet or two 6-inch skillets

One of my favorite cakes this Summer. A simple cast iron skillet cake loaded with seasonal fresh berries. I'm a fan of Lodge Cast Iron's cast iron skillets. I used 9-inch in these photos, but I recently made them with two 5-inch skillets that were such a cute presentation. *Special note: make a little mini skillet for taste testing! 

Highly suggest serving this with ice cream or whipped cream. I just wrote a recipe for Cinnamon Cashew Cream that I bet would be a great addition too. 


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 to 2 lemons, zested

2 cups mixed berries (strawberries, red and white currants, blackberries)

Edible flowers for garnish

Fresh mint for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder and sea salt.

  2. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar together. Gradually increase speed to high; beat until pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add egg, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Mix until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.

  3. While mixer is still on low add half of flour mixture, beat until almost incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add remaining flour mixture and repeat. Transfer cake batter to cast iron skillet(s). Batter will be thick, spread evenly using an offset spatula.

  4. If strawberries are large, cut them in half lengthwise. I prefer the tiny sweet strawberries available in the Summer. Remove currants from the stems. Mix berries with blackberries in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle half of the berry mixture all over the cake batter. Press berries lightly into the batter. For visual presentation arrange a few clusters of currants on the stem.

  5. Bake for 1 hour for large skillet or until cake is golden brown and puffy. 30 minutes for smaller skillets. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Cool skillet on wire rack. Garnish with balance of berries, edible flowers and fresh mint leaves. Serve cake while warm or at room temperature.

  6. Suggest serve with ice cream, fresh whipped cream or cinnamon cashew cream.


Cream Puffs with Raspberry Coulis by Judy Kim

by Judy Kim


Yield: Approximately 36 puffs

Cream puffs remind me of my childhood. My mom used to make these for her dinner parties and I used to love helping her make them. They seemed so fancy to me, but now I realize how they are pretty easy to make and can be made in advance. When I make cream puffs, I tend to make a double batch and just freeze whatever I don't use as a time saver for the next time. Just reheat and they will be crisp and fresh, perfect for last minute parties. My preference is to fill them with pastry cream, but you can fill them with whipped cream or ice cream to make profiteroles if you don't have time to make the pastry cream. When you make profiteroles, don't forget a drizzle of chocolate.



½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs and 1 egg for the glaze


1 cup milk

3 large egg yolks

1 large egg

¼ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


2 pints fresh raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice



  1. In heavy medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water, salt and butter to a boil. Remove from heat. Add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together, approximately 1 minute. Return pan back to heat and continue stirring over low heat for 1 minute. Mixture should be shiny and bottom of pan should be lightly coated.

  2. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix at low speed to allow the mixture to cool slightly. At medium speed, add eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue mixing until dough is smooth and shiny.

  3. Fit large pastry bag with either 1-inch round tip or 1M star tip if you want more texture. Keep pastry bag folded backwards and add mixture to the bag till two-thirds full. Twist top of bag to remove air.

  4. Heat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On each sheet, pipe approximately 1 1/2 - inch mounds. Suggest to apply constant pressure with one hand and use other hand to guide the tip. Gently squeeze the dough in a straight up motion. Keep dough 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Alternatively you can use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to create the mounds. Brush the dough with a egg mixture of beaten egg with 1 tablespoon water. You can also use your fingers by dipping in egg mixture just enough to pat down and smooth the tip of the dough. This will prevent burning.

  5. Bake 20-25 minutes till golden brown. Cool on rack. Serve immediately or they can be put in the refrigerator or freezer for future use. Just reheat at 375°F for 2 minutes, reheat for 5 minutes if frozen.

Suggestion: Even if outside looks golden brown, cut one cream puff oven to ensure center is cooked through. If it is slightly wet and sticky, put cream puffs back in the oven or they will not stay crisp later. 


  1. In a medium heavy saucepan, scald the milk. Remove from heat.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks, egg, sugar and salt. Beat in the cornstarch until completely incorporated.

  3. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot milk, whisking to prevent eggs from scrambling. Return mixture to the sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until mixture comes to a boil and reduce heat, simmer until thickened. Pastry cream should coat the back of a spoon. Stir in butter and vanilla.

  4. Strain the mixture in a fine-mesh strainer into a medium glass or metal bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming on top. Let cool completely and chill until cold. 


  1. Heat all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer on low and stir frequently until thickened, approximately 5 minutes.

  2. Using fine mesh strainer, strain raspberries using a rubber spatula to remove seeds. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2-3 days.


  1. Split the puffs in half, horizontally.

  2. Fill puffs with vanilla pastry cream using a pastry bag fitted with a 1M star tip. Or fill with a small spoon.

  3. Pick mint leaves off stem and stack leaves on top of each other. Chiffonade or slice into thin strips.

  4. Drizzle with raspberry coulis. And top with fresh raspberries and mint.