There are many variations of the traditional recipe for apple pies. People will tweak the ingredients to match their preferences.
For that reason, it can be a little tricky to know if a component is necessary or not. So, why use apple cider vinegar in pie crust?
If that’s what’s on your mind, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s take a look at what the ingredient adds to the recipe. We’ll also dive into some of the substitutes you can try out.
Why Do We Use Apple Cider Vinegar in Pie Crusts?
There are many ways to achieve the perfect apple pie. The key is to make a flaky crust, with a gooey, sugary filling.
The main ingredients in the dough are flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The eggs and butter act like a binding agent to keep the dough together.
However, the consistency of the mixture will be a little dry. For a touch of added moisture, we can sprinkle in a little apple cider vinegar.
This will help balance out the recipe and stabilize the pastry. In addition, the vinegar will change the thickness of the filling and make it much easier to pour out.
That ensures the sticky mixture makes its way into every nook and cranny of the dessert.
Not only will apple cider vinegar improve the texture of the pie, but it’ll also enhance the flavor.
Apple Cider Vinegar Components
To help you understand why we add vinegar to pie crusts, we can look at its components.
Apple cider vinegar is about 94% water. Other than that, the only major component is acetic acid.
This is what gives the ingredient its tangy flavor and pungent odor.
Acetic acid will affect the dough in a couple of different ways.
For starters, the low pH will help with leavening. It’ll make it possible for the crust to rise slightly as it bakes.
Other than that, it’ll interfere with the texture of the dough. To help you understand this, we have to take a look at gluten.
It’s the name of the proteins present in wheat and other grains. When you hydrate flour and knead it, you develop gluten bonds.
This will make for a stretchy dough that can be a little chewy.
When it comes to pie, a soft crust won’t be able to contain the runny filling. So, we need a way to stop the proteins from developing.
The easiest way to do that is to add an acid. It’ll soften the gluten and make for a fluffy, flaky dough.
Apple Cider Vinegar Flavor Profile
As you can guess by the name, we use apples to make this vinegar. We ferment the fruit with a bit of sugar to create the tangy ingredient.
Because of that, it should come as no surprise that the vinegar tastes faintly of apples. That makes it the ideal addition to a traditional apple pie.
On top of that, the sharp bite of the vinegar will help balance the sweetness of the dish. It’ll cut through some of the fat and sugar and leave a bright aftertaste.
It won’t dramatically change what the recipe tastes like. Instead, it’ll add extra dimensions to your sweet treat.
This is a simple way to turn your homemade apple pie into a culinary masterpiece.
What Are Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes?
While apple cider vinegar can elevate an apple pie, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people can find the ingredient to be a bit overpowering or overwhelming.
Luckily, there are quite a few substitutes you can try out. However, before you start tweaking the recipe, you’ll need to consider a few factors.
For starters, the replacement component needs to be acidic. That way, the recipe stays balanced.
Other than that, the substitute should be a liquid. This is in an effort to maintain the ratio between wet and dry ingredients.
Doing so is the only way to ensure the crust is sturdy enough to hold the filling. With all these factors in mind, here are a few examples of apple cider vinegar replacements.
- Lemon juice
- White vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Malt vinegar
The choice you make here will depend on your preferences.
For instance, lemon juice will perfectly complement the flavors of the dessert, but it can be a bit tart.
Other than that, balsamic vinegar is significantly sweeter than apple cider. So, you may need to add an extra dash of salt or reduce the sugar in the recipe.
Why use apple cider vinegar in pie crusts? There are quite a few reasons we add the ingredient to the dough.
First off, the acid will add a nice tangy flavor to the dish. This will balance out the sweet nature of the pie.
Other than that, vinegar can help stabilize the crust. It does that by stopping gluten from developing.
Luckily, if you’re not a fan of apple cider vinegar, there are a few substitutes you can use. These include lemon juice, white vinegar, and even balsamic vinegar.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.