“Spirited” Recipes – Baking with Liquor

Liquor Blog

Most cooks know that the secret to a tasty meat sauce is a cup of red table wine; but, did you know that alcohol can also enhance the taste and texture of your baked goods, too? Get creative with cake batter or kick it up a notch with tipsy toppings. You can even add a blast of flavor by soaking your fruit ingredients in a cold vodka or sweet liqueur.

Tips for Spiked Sweets

Now, baking with spirits doesn’t mean you can just go and pour a bottle of whipped cream vodka into your brownie batter and expect a miracle. Alcohol affects texture, moisture and flavor. It’s mixology at a whole new level. Here are seven handy tips and tricks to keep in mind when baking with liquor.

  1. Vodka makes a great flake. Add a couple tablespoons of cold vodka to your pie crust recipe for a dough that’s easier to roll out. The vodka keeps the dough from developing too much gluten, leaving you with a light, flaky crust.
  2. Alcohol alters flavor. Bourbon packs smoky and honey flavors, easy for the palate to notice right away. Vodka is subtler, better used as a wet ingredient than for taste.
  3. Bourbon makes vanilla bloom. Bourbon is the key to a smooth, oak flavored homemade vanilla extract.
  4. Better bottle means better baking. Avoid the cheap stuff and go for the gold. The better quality alcohol, the better impact it will have on your baked goods.
  5. Cream curdling cooking? No thanks. Alcohol can curdle cream, so it’s immensely important that you use a carrier when adding booze to creamy baked goods. Soaking raisins in rum, cherries in vodka and apples in brandy will result in all flavor and no curdle.
  6. Put the rum in the coconut and whip it all up. Add dark and smoky spiced rum along with savory coconut to heavy cream as you whip up soft, white peaks.
  7. Test before serving the kiddos. Worried about alcoholic baked goods around the kids? These recipes have a high burn-off ratio, but it’s always better to double check before serving up a slice to anyone under 21. Typically, after an hour or so in the oven, more than 80 percent of the alcohol has evaporated.

Baking with alcohol can be as much fun as drinking it! Try any one of these dishes out on your friends, and you’re sure to come home with an empty cake tray and a plateful of recipe requests.

Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cake with Tequila Almond Liqueur Ganache

Bundts are time-honored crowd pleasers, and this one will have your friends and family begging for the recipe.

Irish Pub Brownies

These brownies call for a cup of stout beer and are frosted with a buttercream icing. They a great for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake – flourless and gluten-free

Heading to a potluck party and not sure of any dietary restrictions? You can be a hit with this sweet and savory flourless cake, packed with a subtle rum punch.

Perfect Pie Crust At Your Fingertips

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Let’s face it: few things are as loved and as feared as homemade pie crust.

We love it because at its best, it’s perfectly flaky, yet perfectly tender, and it reminds us of Grandma and the comforts of home. But many novice bakers have avoided mastering this kitchen repertoire staple because it has the reputation of being very difficult.

The truth is, pie crust is a little tricky, but not nearly as scary as it may seem. Let’s walk through some of the basics that will help you make a perfect pie crust from scratch.

Fats

Some people love butter, others prefer vegetable shortening, and still others swear by lard. You can use any or a combination of all of these fats. Butter doesn’t give pastry quite the flakiness that shortening does, but the flavor is much richer. Shortening generally makes the dough a little easier to handle, but you do sacrifice some flavor. Lard produces a flaky crust as well. Combinations of fats often create the best results.

Keep Ingredients Cold

Whether you opt for shortening or use Grandma’s recipe that calls for lard, one secret to flaky crust is to keep your ingredients cold. Flaky crust is created by pieces of un-melted fat rolled between layers of flour, which then melt during the baking process, leaving crispy pockets. Chill fats, water and even your flour thoroughly to maximize flakiness.

Mix Properly

Cut fats into dry ingredients before adding liquids. Using a pastry blender, a couple of forks, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, combine fats and dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form. Then add cold water a bit at a time until the dough holds together. Don’t overwork your dough. Too much kneading will make it tough.

Flour Thoroughly

Be sure to flour your work surface before rolling out the dough. The last thing you want is for your perfectly rolled pastry to stick to the counter top! Dust the surface liberally with flour, and rub flour on your rolling pin, as well. Alternately, you can roll crust between pieces of parchment paper.

Handle With Care

Don’t handle the dough any more than necessary. Heat from your hands will transfer to the pastry, causing the fats to melt and sabotaging your flaky texture. To safely transfer your dough to the pie plate, gently roll it up over the rolling pin and slide it off into place.

Chill Before Baking

Pie dough has a tendency to lose its chill once its been rolled, shaped and fitted to the pie plate. It never hurts to pop the entire plate, dough and all, into the freezer for one last chill. Thirty minutes in the freezer will allow the fats to solidify again and help keep the dough from shrinking once it goes into the oven.

‘Baking Blind’

For pies with a cream filling, you will need to pre-bake your pie shell, also known as “baking blind.” To keep the crust from shrinking in the pan, it’s helpful to line your formed shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill with ceramic pie weights or dry beans. Remove them before cooling.

Top Crust

Don’t attempt to put a top crust over warm pie filling. Your dough is essentially glued together with butter and water and will quickly fall apart if placed over hot filling. Also, some recipes call for an egg wash, which will give your crust an attractive shine. Another option is a milk wash, which is often paired with a sprinkling of sugar to create a nicely browned crust.

So break out your rolling pin, tie on that favorite apron and stride confidently into the kitchen. You’ve got this! With these helpful hints and a bit of practice, you’ll be serving up your own perfect pie crust in no time.