The first secret is lard. Oh my goodness – am I allowed to say that word in public?
Lard – there said it again. Oh it is tasty – this is why bacon is so good. 🙂
There is absolutely nothing better to make a pie crust. For those that just got all crinkly-faced at the word lard – go for your politically correct “vegetable” shortening as a substitute. Basically what we need is a “fat” to hold the flour together so we can shape it. The difference between the fats is in the melting temperatures and how the fats behave under heat – lard just works best.
The second secret is cold. Pie crust ingredients must be cold when mixed. If the fat is “warm” the flour will absorb the fat, and then the flour will become hard when baked. This is why pastry must be cut with a pastry cutter – to keep the warmth of your hands from melting the fat. Here is a tip – chill all the ingredients including the flour and the bowl!
The third secret is speed. Do the mixing quickly so the fat doesn’t warm up and begin melting. Yet thoroughly so that the fat is mixed evenly through the flour. Overworking the dough will activate the gluten and make the pie crust hard.
Once you have the dough mixed – ball it all up, wrap it in wax paper and chill it for at least 1-hour in the fridge. Then roll out the dough (again do this quickly and don’t overwork the dough!) and place in your pie plate. Chill the pie-plate and the pie crust for 20-minutes before filling to avoid the soggies!
My final secret is use a glass pie dish. Other kinds do work – I just find that glass transfers heat more evenly during baking.
My Pie Crust (Basically from the side of the lard box!)
1/3 cup of lard
1 cup of pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 teaspoons ice water (OR 4-teaspoons ice water and 2-teaspoons white vinegar)
chilled bowl and pastry cutter.
In a chilled bowl cut lard into flour and salt with the pastry cutter until particles are the size of small peas.
Add the ice water one teaspoon at a time and mix with a fork until just combined and holds together. Do not use all the liquid if it seems to hold together. Do not overwork!
Form into a ball, wrap in wax paper and place in fridge until ready to use. (Best if used in 24 hours – but I have kept dough in fridge for a couple of days)
A dough blender; also called a pastry blender or cutter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)