The basic ingredients in a pie crust are butter, flour, salt and water. I typically add in a little bit of sugar, even if I’m making a savory pie, because it helps the crust to brown more. One ingredient that you can add to a pie crust that is a little more unusual is vinegar. Vinegar helps tenderize pie dough because it slightly inhibits gluten development, leading to a crust that is flakier and easier to work with. The great thing about vinegar is that you really only need a little bit of it to help your dough, so you won’t know what that “secret ingredient” after baking!
This Flaky Vinegar Pie Crust is a reliable recipe for producing a tender pie crust. It uses just a small amount of vinegar compared to the amount of water in the dough, but it is just enough to make a difference in the finished crust. You can make this crust by hand or in the food processor, and both methods with give you good results. Since the dough is more tender, it will need less rest after rolling and shaping it to your pie plate. You will still need to rest the dough before baking it to allow it to relax a little, but it tends to spring back less and hold its shape better than other pie doughs.
You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in this recipe. I prefer to use apple cider vinegar because it has a very subtle flavor. White vinegar has a much stronger scent and you may be able to smell it in the dough as you are working with it. You won’t be able to smell or taste either vinegar in the finished crust, but I still opt for apple cider vinegar when I have the option.
Flaky Vinegar Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, cold and cut into several large pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
6-10 tbsp ice water
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add pieces of cold butter and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Rub butter in with your fingertips until it is broken down into pieces about the size of and almond. Some pieces of butter may be slightly larger, some may be slightly smaller. This can also be done by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor.
In a small bowl, combine vinegar and ice water. While stirring your dough with a fork, gradually add in the water until the dough comes together into a slightly shaggy mass. If the dough becomes too sticky, add in an extra tablespoonful of flour.
Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and press firmly until the dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before rolling.
Makes enough for 1 double crust pie or two 9-inch crusts