I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Lard is the very best shortening to use in making pie crust. I learned this from my mother, grandmother, and in her turn, great-grandmother Edith Grout, who cooked wonderful farm house meals for her farm raised family in NY state. Both my grandmother and grandfather Grout grew up on farms in NY and I am grateful for the traditions of cooking that I can pass on my children. I have had the pie baking gene passed on to me, and my unusually cold hands actually facilitate making a delicious and flaky crust. I knew they had to come in handy for something. It also helps that my taste preference runs to pies, though I enjoy a wonderful cake now and then. The skill of baking a cake like my mother-in-law can is something I hope to practice and perfect through the years to come. For right now, though, I’ll stick to baking mostly pies.
The Essential Pie Crust
This makes 1-crust pie. Double for a 2-crust pie.
1 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. lard
1-2 TBS. ice water
- Sift together the flour and salt.
- Cut in lard with a pastry blender until well blended, and crumbly. Once I’m sure it is all mixed I will scoop up a handful and squeeze it lightly. When I open my hand most of the dough should stay together, the lard being the binder, and some should crumble off the top.
- Add the ice water 1 TBS. at a time, mixing after each, and rolling into a dough with your hands. You should not use too much water or flour or your crust will turn out like a cracker. If it seems slightly slimy from the water that you need to get rid of all the cracks, just add a little sprinkling of flour to your dough balls.
- When rolling out the dough we use 2 sheets of wax paper, and sprinkle the bottom paper with flour before adding the dough, and putting the 2nd sheet on top. I have found that I cannot roll out pie crust on the counter top because if it is going to be a nice, flaky crust it will stick to the counter. Make sure that you gently peel the wax paper off of each side before flipping it into your 9″ or 10″ pie dish. (My favorite pie dish is my Fiestaware© pie plate.) You dough should overflow the sides. If it doesn’t quite do that then you can cut off the extra and press it onto the spots that are lacking.
- If your recipe calls for a pre-baked pie shell bake the dough in your pie plate, after perforating the inside with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming, in a 425° oven for 8 minutes approximately. The dough should still be a light color when baked, but still look completely cooked. Sometimes it takes a few extra minutes to bake. Just keep a close watch on your crust.