Still baking the days away? Me too. But I got a message from a friend of mine this morning, saying that her pies weren't what she expected. When I asked what she meant, she recounted in frustration how she worked her arms to exhaustion by kneading the dough, arranged it so carefully into beautiful shapes, and but into a fresh pie only to be greeted with tough crust. Not crunchy, but tough, as though the dough was stale. But, she told me, with a lot of exclamation marks, she was using brand new ingredients, so how could the pie be stale already?
Luckily, this isn't a side effect of COVID-19 supply chains. The ingredients were indeed still good, but my friend committed two of the easiest sins in pie baking: overkneading and forgetting to chill. When she was working the dough into what would become her pie crust, she believed that the butter needed to be worked fully into the dough. In actuality, you want pea-sized crumbs of butter throughout your dough, so that it will melt and create a pocket in the crust, resulting in the flakiness we all want. Additionally, she forgot to chill both her ingredients and the finished dough. Warm dough is easier to work, but it will become easy to overwork, firming the crust too much and giving it a chewy consistency. It's best to chill the butter and all of your dough ingredients, and work them gradually, using ice water as you go to help keep it cool. When you finish forming the disk, chill it in the fridge for an hour or so: if you don't, the dough will be too tough.
Baking a pie from scratch is a long process. Don't get in a hurry, and keep it cool!