The phrase “easy as pie” is a bit ironic since pie is actually a fairly tricky baked good to get right, especially the crust. It’s extremely easy to mess up your pie dough, either by kneading it too much or not enough. While under-kneaded dough can be fixed pretty easily, you’re out of luck if you overwork your pie dough, right?
Thankfully this doesn’t have to be the case, as there’s a surprisingly simple fix to overworked pie dough– add some acidity.
Pie dough that’s over-kneaded becomes a tough crust when baked, nothing like the light, flaky texture you want for your pie crust. Adding some acidity will break down, lighten, and soften too-tough dough, and even add some extra flavor to the crust to boot.
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You don’t need to add too much of the acidic ingredient to soft your overworked dough– a single splash is all you should need. Any sort of citrus juice, vinegar, or even wine will do the trick.
Since the acidic ingredient will add a bit of extra flavor to your dough, you can be strategic about which ingredient will pair best with the pie itself. A splash of lime or lemon juice will probably compliment a lemon meringue pie extremely well, for instance.
Adding some acidity can be a useful preventative measure before you knead the dough too. This is especially useful if you plan to make your pie dough a few days before actually baking it, as the acidity will help prevent it from oxidizing.