The Pantry Ingredient That Prevents Dry, Gray Pie Dough

When asked to imagine a perfect pie, different people will have different ideas about how it should be filled — whether with fruit, cream, nuts, or something else. But plenty of us would likely share a vision of a golden crust that shatters into flaky forkfuls. Well-known bakers like Martha Stewart and Ina Garten have plenty of tips on how to achieve pastry perfection, however, the secret to success is probably already in your pantry: apple cider vinegar.

Strange as it may seem to add something so acidic and intensely aromatic to a dessert that is meant to offer a mild, buttery base and a sweet filling, apple cider vinegar is just what you need to keep your pie dough from becoming dry and discolored. But, adding a small splash of it along with the cold water that binds together the other ingredients will have a big impact. This simple, affordable trick ensures your pie crust will have a pleasantly warm hue and tender texture.

The magic of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used in countless ways when cooking both sweet and savory dishes — or drinks — and it is even helpful when you need to clean your kitchen. You can opt to make your own version of ACV or find it at just about any grocery store. If you are wondering how and why it has a place in your pie crust, the answer is two-fold. Adding as little as a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dough helps to improve its appearance and texture.

Because vinegar affects the development of gluten, it can help keep your pie dough from being overworked, which would otherwise make it come out dry and tough. Additionally, the vinegar will prevent oxidation, which causes the dough to turn gray. In this way, a splash of apple cider vinegar is key to creating a more pliable dough that takes its color from the butter and bakes into a perfectly flaky, golden pie, ready to hold your filling of choice.

How to best add apple cider vinegar to pie crust dough

One of the great things about pie is that hand-making the crust takes just a few minutes and a few ingredients to create something so rewarding. All you need is flour, butter, salt, and water — and apple cider vinegar. Adding this last ingredient to your classic all-purpose pie crust recipe couldn't be easier. Simply gather your ingredients and begin to mix them together as you normally would, beginning with the flour, salt, and butter. Once you have the dry ingredients prepared, you can focus on the liquids.

Add ice to a glass of water, then pour in a splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir and leave it to chill for a few minutes before adding spoonfuls of this mixture to your bowl of dry ingredients. You want to add enough of the water and apple cider vinegar to bring the dough together so that you can form it into a ball. Then, place the dough in the refrigerator or freezer to chill for at least a half hour before baking.