Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pie Crust

I realized shortly after arriving at Mom's place that I have never learned to make pie crust! Mom is an incredible pie maker and has filled my life with fantastic pies made from a variety of fantastic fillings like apple (always Dad's favorite with a slab of old cheddar cheese), berry (throughout my growing years my August 1st birthday was always celebrated with swimming, boating, water skiing, beach combing, exploring AND a big fish chowder feed on a deserted Fundy Isle, and finished off with a giant blueberry/raspberry pie with candles), mincemeat (often using the deer meat that the men would bring home after the fall hunt), rhubarb (that seemed to grow wild everywhere in my youth) and of course pumpkin (always always always served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners). As I took to my own kitchen in Calgary, this hole in my culinary education wasn't too evident as I could always pick up a totally fine frozen crust at the local grocery. Here in the jungle, however, we live in an "if you want it, make it yourself" world, so I thought that this time with Mom would be a perfect time to learn to make pie crust. (I should add here that none of my subsequent batches of pastry have turned out looking as good as this first one, and I am convinced it is because of that great rolling mat!)

Mom's first instruction was to go out and buy a pound of Canadian "no name pure lard" (not pictured here). I figured it was the secret ingredient, and it wasn't until I was all ready to start making the pie that I learned that the recipe that she recommends is printed on the inside of the lard package.

Easy Pie Pastry

Taken From Canadian "no name pure lard" package

5 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 lb. chilled Lard cut into large chunks
1 egg
1 Tbsp.White Vinegar


In large bowl, combine flour and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger pea-sized pieces.

In glass measuring cup, and using fork, beat egg with vinegar. Add enough cold water to make 1 cup. Mix well. Drizzle into flour mixture a bit at a time, mixing in with a fork, until dough looks evenly moistened and holds together when gently pressed between fingers. You may not need to use all of the liquid.

Divide dough into 6 equal balls, Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and pat into 4-inch discs. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using. For best results, chill 2 hours before using.

Preparing dough in advance: Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in Refrigerator.

Makes 6 single crust or 3 double crust 9-inch pies.

Tips for tender pastry:
" Add only enough liquid so dough just holds together when gently pressed. Too much water makes pastry tough.
" Do not over-handle dough or knead it. Over-handling develops gluten, which makes pastry tough.
" Allow dough to rest after making.

Rolling Tips:
" To prevent sticking, lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Use a floured pastry cloth, if you prefer. Or, roll dough between two sheets of waxed paper.
" Roll dough from center of disc out. Roll to about 1 ½ inches larger than pie plate.
" Patch any tears by lightly moistening edges of tear with wet finger and pressing on a thin piece of dough to cover gap.
" If dough sticks while rolling because it is too soft, cover and chill 15 - 30 minutes before proceeding.

How to transfer to pie plate:
" Loosely roll dough circle onto floured rolling pin and unroll onto pie plate. Or lightly fold dough circle in half. Place fold over center of pie plate and unfold.
" If rolling between two sheets of waxed paper, remove top sheet of paper, invert dough onto pie plate and remove paper.
" Ease dough into pie plate without stretching dough to prevent shrinkage during baking.

" For single crust pie, with kitchen scissors or sharp knife, trip dough to ½ inch overhang beyond edges of pie plate. Fold crust under for double thickness edge. Press with tines of fork or pinch between thumb and finger for decorative edge.
" For double curst pie, trip bottom crust before filling pie. Trip top crust so it hangs over edge of pie plate ½ inch. Fold edge of top crust under bottom crust. Press to seal as for single crust pie. Brush top crust with beaten egg or cream for golden crust. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired, for a sweet pie.

" For single crust pie, fill and bake as directed in recipe used.
" For double crust pie, slash or prick top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake as directed in recipe used.
" Cover crust loosely with foil if browning too quickly.
" Empty crust: Prick empty single shell evenly with tines of fork. Line crust with foil. Fill with raw rice, dried beans or pie weights. Bake in center of oven preheated to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.) for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights; bake another 5 - 10 minutes or until crust is golden.

** This recipe can be pasted into BigOven without retyping. **
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